Emmys 2021: The 3 Best (and the 3 Worst) Moments From TV’s Big Night

The 2021 Emmy Awards went off without a hitch last night, with some of today’s biggest stars gathering to hopefully receive television’s most prestigious award. After a year mostly stuck inside due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Hollywood gathered to celebrate the television shows which got us through 2020.

Here are some of the best and worst moments from the 73rd annual Emmy Awards.

John Oliver at the 2021 Emmy Awards holding two Emmys.
John Oliver | Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Best: Cedric the Entertainer and the audience singing along to Biz Markie’s ‘Just a Friend’

Cedric the Entertainer made sure to honor not just the shows that were nominated for Emmys but television as a whole. The host sang a parody of Biz Markie’s ‘Just a Friend,’ incorporating audience members like Rita Wilson and Lil Dicky into the performance. Plus, with Biz Markie’s death in July 2021, it was a lovely tribute to one of the ’80s most memorable rappers.

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Worst: The ‘Schitt’s Creek’ cast’s bit

Don’t get us wrong, we love the cast of Schitt’s Creek. The bit they did last night at the Emmys, though? Not so much.

Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy, and Annie Murphy got on stage to present the award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, they looked confused. They told the crowd the teleprompter wasn’t working in their usual deadpan manner, and the audience didn’t know if they were joking or not. Eventually, the elder Levy got to the punchline and admitted he’d asked the comedy writers to “lift’ their dialogue a bit. 

The joke ran for too long, and people honestly weren’t sure it was a joke at all. It was awkward and uncomfortable, and we would be happy not knowing it existed.

Best: RuPaul’s historic Emmy win

RuPaul’s Drag Race won the award for Outstanding Competition Program and firmly placed RuPaul himself in history. He’s now the most decorated Black artist with 11 Emmy wins. He didn’t focus on the historical win, though. Instead, he simply thanked the Academy, Viacom, and CBS, along with all of the “gorgeous people here tonight.”

Worst: A lot of the show’s humor fell flat

It’s always awkward when comedian’s jokes don’t land. Unfortunately, that was the case for Cedric the Entertainer last night. His attempts to ramble on with his The Neighborhood costars weren’t funny, and the ladies’ jokes about their outfits being more appropriate for this year’s Met Gala didn’t stick. There was also an odd bit where Cedric was in front of a green screen, trying to catch a football from Tom Brady. Yeah, we didn’t get it either.

Best: Norm Macdonald’s tributes

Norm Macdonald died on Sept. 14, 2021, and a few of last night’s stars paid tribute to the late comedian. Macdonald’s sarcastic and dry sense of humor wasn’t for everyone, but he made his mark on the comedy landscape. He hosted Saturday Night Live’s ‘Weekend Update’ for several years, and the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels, gave the star his due when he accepted the win for Outstanding Variety Series, Sketch Show. 

John Oliver also mentioned Macdonald in his acceptance speech for Outstanding Variety Series, Talk Show. The host of Last Week Tonight said that “there was no one funnier in late-night comedy than Norm Macdonald.”

RELATED: Lorne Michaels of ‘SNL’ Is the Most-Nominated Person in Emmy History

Worst: Scott Frank did not care about the play-off music… at all

Scott Frank won the award for his directing of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, and the man did not care one bit about the fact that these shows are supposed to stick to a specific run time. Frank’s speech went through the play-off music three times, and it was not a good look. When anyone gets played off, it makes the audience and viewers uncomfortable. Still, when they have to sit through three separate attempts to get someone off the stage, that awkward feeling increases ten-fold.

It’s no shock that last night’s Emmy Awards were better than last year’s. Unsurprisingly, in-person events leave less room for those awkward moments when people forget to take their computers off mute. We’re just glad to have somewhat of a resemblance to normalcy back in our lives.