Emmys 2015: Nine signs Hollywood is finally taking its sexism and racism problem seriously

The Two Amys at the Emmys.

The Two Amys at the Emmys. Photo: Kevin Winter

If the last few years have taught your average Tinseltown-watcher anything, it's that there's been a growing groundswell of dissent among the world's most beautiful masses: to wit, that representation both on and behind the screen has been nothing short of abysmal for too long, and that women in the industry are often seen as little more than glamorous clotheshorses.

And while the Emmys - at least in terms of nominees and presenters - haven't been as lily white as the Oscars for a while, television's night of nights has had plenty of disappointments when it comes time to dishing out the paperweights. (And the less said about 'Mani Cam' and 'Clutch Cam', the better.)

This year, however, it was hard to shake the feeling that the tide might be shifting in favour of a Hollywood that isn't relentlessly regressive. From the red carpet to the acceptance speeches and the press room, there was a hopeful mood in the air.

So, without further ado, here are a handful of reasons this year's Emmy Awards were a step in the right direction.



Viola Davis makes history

When Viola Davis' name was announced in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category, she entered the history books as the first black woman to win in that category. She began her speech with a heartbreaking Harriet Tubman quote, before noting that "the only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there."

Just watch the whole thing, for god's sake:



Let's take a moment for Regina King, who won - in her first nomination - for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. I've been stewing over the egregious lack of awards season gold for her incredible performance in Jerry Maguire since last century, so my reaction was pretty much the same as everyone else's: 


The red carpet didn't completely suck

Well, it sucked on account of the 38-degree heat (though, if you'll forgive me a moment of Farenheit-ism, saying "100 in the shade" just sounds more terrifying, in my opinion), but after a year or so of #AskHerMore, it appeared that - for the most part - red carpet correspondents seem to be getting at least a bit of a clue when it comes to asking female stars decent questions.

At the crest of this wave was Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, who passed on questions from Twitter users to a parade of willing stars:


Andy Samberg made the best Donald Trump joke of the year

In his (mercifully funny and fast-paced) Emmys opening monologue, host Andy Samberg expertly skewered reality TV idiot-turned-Republican Presidential hopeful, Donald Trump. "Donald Trump, of course, is running for President, to the delight of uncles everywhere," Samberg quipped, adding that, "I've gotta say: sure, Donald Trump seems racist..." before moving right along.

In the sage words of Rainier Wolfcastle:


'The Amys' cut the 'Worst Dressed' coverage off at the pass

Up to present the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (which would go to Allison Janney for Mom), the Amys Poehler and Schumer made a quick but cutting point about the main reason the media gets so pumped at Emmys time each year:


Sometimes the good guys win

Mad Men's Jon Hamm finally took home a paperweight for his work as the now dearly departed Don Draper, and expressed his and everybody else's relief the best way possible:

Don't forget what Hamm had to say about his alter ego's chauvinistic ways: "That was a fact of life then. But it wouldn't be tolerated today, and that's quite right in my book… People look back on those days through a thick veil of nostalgia, but life was hard if you were anything other than a rich, powerful, white male."


Uzo Aduba wins again!

Though she won last year's Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for the same role, when Uzo Aduba picked up Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her Orange Is The New Black work this year, show creator Jenji Kohan was in attendance. Aduba began by weeping, "I really just want to say thank you a thousand times", before doing just that (give or take a few thank yous) and sending the audience - both in the auditorium and worldwide - diving for their tissues.


Jill Soloway continues her campaign against "male protagonism"

After taking home the gong for Outstanding Direction in a Comedy Series, Transparent's Jill Soloway told the press room that - on the topic of representation in TV and film being apparently too difficult for some directors, writers and producers - "people need to make an attempt to find identify and nurture people of colour, women, trans people, queer people, and include them in the creative process." She told Access Hollywood that her win is "about female protagonism; it's about getting more women in the directing spot."


Jeffrey Tambor's sensitive speech

Perhaps cognisant of the ongoing and valid criticism of Hollywood's habit of casting cis actors in trans roles (usually using the same old "best actor for the part" line), Jeffrey Tambor dedicated his Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series win for Transparent to the trans community.

"I'd like to dedicate my performance and this award to the transgender community," he said. "Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your stories. Thank you for our inspiration. Thank you for letting us be part of the change."