Good news, everyone! Hollywood’s television-industrial complex has officially solved its diversity problem. How do we know? Because the Emmys just told us so — in song, no less.
The 70th Emmy Awards opened with an appropriately diverse ensemble of A-list stars paying tribute to the ceremony’s newfound diversity. Saturday Night Live cast members, and Emmy nominees, Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson were the first to take the stage, noting that this year’s crop of nominees is the most diverse in the awards’ seven-decade history. “I’m going to go ahead and say it,” declared Thompson — who, for the record, is the first African-American SNL cast member to be nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series since Eddie Murphy way back in 1983 — “We solved it.”
And Thompson and McKinnon cited plenty of … well, OK, some — evidence to back up their claim. For instance, they sang out to Killing Eve star Sandra Oh, the first Asian-American woman to be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. “Thank you, but it’s an honor just to be Asian,” the actress replied without missing a beat.
The same couldn’t be said of The Good Place’s Kristen Bell and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘s Tituss Burgess, who fumbled the tune a little bit as they joined McKinnon and Thompson onstage, followed by Sterling K. Brown. “Hey, look at us,” sang the Emmy-winning This Is Us favorite. “This room is so diverse, from Democrats to liberal Democrats — let’s sing another verse!”
Leave it to Ricky Martin to kill the wave of self-congratulation. The actor and singer emerged from the wings to point out that the diversity problem hasn’t been solved, because “this song is way too white.”
McKinnon did her part to preserve the tune’s diversity by welcoming the multiracial “One of Each” dancers and heroically preventing Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Andy Samberg from crashing the party. Descending from the rafters, Samberg plaintively sang, “Is there any room in this song for a straight white guy like me?” and was promptly asked to exit stage left — a tacit acknowledgment of how straight white guys are the last demographic in need of representation. Well-meaning as the sketch was, we’re ultimately going to have to agree with RuPaul, who provided the funniest one-liner for the largely awkward opening number: “You call me up for one line in a stupid skit? Y’all ain’t right.”
(RuPaul proved prophetic: 90 minutes into the ceremony, Regina King was the lone nominee of color to score a statuette, winning for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her role in Netflix’s Seven Seconds.)
Diversity was one of the chief topics on the minds of the night’s hosts, SNL head writers and “Weekend Update” co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che. Unfortunately, their patter largely fell flatter than the dancing in the preceding song-and-dance routine.
“They did 15 seasons of ER without one Filipino nurse,” Che remarked, and when the crowd didn’t respond with uproarious laughter, he added, “Have you been to a hospital?” Jost had slightly more success with his follow-up gag: “There’s even more diversity coming to TV. There’s a Latino Magnum P.I. and a black Samantha in a reboot of Bewitched. It’s going to get balanced out by an all-white reboot of Atlanta called 15 Miles Outside of Atlanta.”
Jost and Che did explore more diverse topics beyond diversity — with equally mixed results.
Take the ongoing #MeToo campaign, which Jost referenced when he cracked, “Netflix, of course, has the most nominations tonight. And if you’re a network executive, that’s the scariest thing you can possibly hear, except “Sir, Ronan Farrow is on line one.”
Che, meanwhile, offered up his own description of last year’s top Emmy winner, The Handmaid’s Tale. “[It] takes place in an imaginary future where an entire group of people are violently forced to work and make babies against their will. It’s what black people call history. It’s Roots for white women, that’s what it is; it’s Roots with bonnets.”
Speaking of Roots, the duo dared to drop another R-word. As in Roseanne Barr, whose eponymous sitcom likely would have been a major Emmy contender if the star hadn’t had a spectacular Twitter meltdown earlier this year, leading to the show’s cancellation and resurrection as the Barr-less The Connors. Or, as Jost put it, “Roseanne was canceled by herself, but picked up by white nationalists.” Added Che: “I heard Roseanne is moving to Israel. How messed up is your life when you have to go to the Middle East just to get peace of mind?”
Although they got their digs in at Roseanne, one word that Che and Jost notably didn’t drop during their monologue was the M-word … as in Moonves. That’s one problem that Hollywood apparently hasn’t solved.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: