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The Most Theatrical Moments of the 2020 Emmy Awards

September 23, 2020 by Abby Bien
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If you look really hard: theater is all around us. And if you look to the 2020 Emmy Awards — there’s a lot to unpack. We’ve compiled the most theatrical moments of television’s biggest night and believe us, they all deserve a standing ovation.

Jimmy Kimmel hosted on The Phantom of the Opera and Dear Evan Hansen stages*

No audience? No problem. While obviously the fake cardboard cutouts and celebrity Zoom call (@HelenaBonhamCarter making her dog wave) was necessary for this year’s ceremony (#wearamask) — the whole thing gave us huge “I’m sitting in the Balcony during ‘Masquerade/Why so Silent'” and/or “Evan Hansen is going viral while I drink out of a wine sippy cup” vibes.

*Kimmel was not literally on the Broadway stages. It just felt like it.

It’s All About Enunciation

Can you use the word theater in a sentence? Sure, no problem.

Theater is the way Catherine O’Hara says “ungrateful doddypoll.”

Was that supposed to happen?

It’s a classic move in live performance: thing breaks, person falls, hidden door is revealed, Emmy Award catches on fire. In your head you know that it was most likely planned, they spent a long time practicing the practiced mistake, this was a part of the ~choreography~. And yet you’re left wondering: Was Jennifer Aniston really supposed to go at that trash can with a fire extinguisher that many times?

This is a performance piece

What does it mean! There’s no way you can convince me this is not a video from an upcoming Daniel Fish and Ivo van Hove collaboration.

Welcome to every single play on Broadway

Like many productions we know and love, if this bit was a Broadway show, every single person onstage would be above the title. And by the time (spoiler alert) Jason Bateman shows up in the second act, you’d be feeling very cool about the entire situation and start to convince yourself that he can see you in your seat and that soon you will fall in love.

Where did that sound come from?

It’s the offstage “Mommy” for us. Mysterious, thrilling, comforting yet uncomfortable. Uzo Aduba is a true thespian.

We love a mid-show standing ovation

You only get a reaction like this — in the middle of the show, no less — if your performance is the best of the best. Zendaya’s friends and family reacting to her win are me reacting to Bernadette Peters walking down a staircase.

Did you hear there’s an animal in this show?

It’s always a risk: live animals in live performances. But when it works it works. And when it’s Randall Park walking an alpaca on a leash, it the-goat-in-Once-On-This-Island works.

When one celebrity plays another celebrity

This is like when Bryan Cranston played Lyndon B. Johnson on Broadway except it’s 2020 and Tiger King (remember Tiger King) is a real thing that exists on this planet and on our television screens. Also — and this may be the quarantine talking — would you see a Tiger King musical on Broadway: yes or yes?

Excuse me sir why are you talking?

Jimmy Kimmel is a heckler. And Kerry Washington is Patti LuPone, a legend. (Watch until the end.)