Maybe what Rush Limbaugh meant when he said queer women are taking over rural farms is that queer women are taking over television, because that’s a prophecy that actually came true last night at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards. It was already revolutionary that Her Story got a nod for Outstanding Short Form, and that 21 people of color were nominated in acting categories, and that seven entire women were nominated for directing. But things got even more exciting when Kate McKinnon snagged her first trophy, and Sarah Paulson got hers too (with Marcia Clark sitting right beside her). Jill Soloway, who came out earlier this year, also scored a huge victory.
Let it not be said that TV has arrived — or that it didn’t smash our hearts to bits this year — but watching the world celebrate these women was a spark of hope. Other queer and feminist things happened too; this is a list of some of them.
Kate McKinnon Thanks Ellen and Hillary
What a year for Kate McKinnon!
Kate McKinnon! I'm so happy for you. You deserve it and so much more. And not just because you thanked me. #Emmys
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) September 19, 2016
Congratulations on your Emmy, Kate! Big fan of yours, too. pic.twitter.com/w00QO1GwyH
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 19, 2016
Sarah Paulson Engraves Marcia Clark’s Name on Her Heart
There are a million think pieces to be written about what it means for feminism that Marcia Clark stood beside Sarah Paulson and watched both of their names be engraved on her fresh Emmy Award. Or what it means that in her acceptance speech Paulson apologized to Clark on behalf of the entire country: “The responsibility of playing a real person is an enormous one. You want to get it right not for you but for them. I, along with the rest of the world, had been superficial in my judgment, and I’m glad that I’m able to stand here in front of everyone today and say, I’m sorry.” But this isn’t that think piece. It’s a celebration of Paulson’s very first(!) Emmy and also of the moment on the red carpet when she told Holland Taylor she loves her, and Holland Taylor responded in kind. She also said it in her speech, just to make sure Holland heard.
If I'm watching…?? If I'm WATCHING???
YES, I'm watching–!!!
good LORD! …
I LOVE you!!! pic.twitter.com/63341mz81C
— Holland Taylor (@HollandTaylor) September 18, 2016
Jill Soloway Vows to Topple the Patriarchy
Jill Soloway didn’t just win; she won for directing, the most exclusive boys club category in all awards shows.
Her speech was self-aware and remarkable. “Directing is a privilege, and it creates privilege. When you take women and people of color, queer people and trans people, and you put them at the center of the story, when they become subjects instead of objects, you change the world… we need to stop violence against transgender women and topple the patriarchy.”
Diversity Is More Than a Buzzword
— Makho Ndlovu (@makhondlovu) September 19, 2016
There was a lot of talk about diversity last night, from white men. Jimmy Kimmel, Kit Harrington, and Andy Samberg all clowned on Hollywood’s overwhelming whiteness, and while that same old joke gets tiresome (stop laughing and start hiring not white men!), there’s evidence that the buzzword is causing incremental change. A record number of people of color were nominated for acting this year. Regina King pulled down a second consecutive, supremely deserved win for Best Supporting Actress. Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang won for Best Comedy Writing for Master of None (a show that includes a Black queer woman played by a Black queer woman). Key & Peele won Best Variety Sketch Series. And Rami Malek from Mr. Robot won Best Actor in a Drama. It’s only the beginning.
Give Trans Women a Shot
— AJ+ (@ajplus) September 19, 2016
Jeffrey Tambor won again for Transparent. Last year he thanked the trans community for their patience and grace. This year he used his speech to speak directly to the folks who make TV: “Please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions. Give them their story…I would be happy if I were the last cisgender male to play a transgender female.” His speech, of course, comes on the heels of Matt Bomer’s new film, in which he plays a trans sex worker, and Michelle Rodriquez’s new film, in which she plays a trans woman who has forced gender reassignment surgery (or something? I honestly cannot wrap my head around what the deal is with that movie). The camera panned to Laverne Cox who cheered Tambor’s statement from the audience; in fact, she’d already shared the same sentiment with the audience earlier in the night. And Jen Richards weighed in on Twitter.
I start tearing up. Roommate says, "You're making a difference." Then I really cried. WE are making a difference. Our voices do have power.
— Jen Richards (@SmartAssJen) September 19, 2016
At Last, An Emmy For Maslany
— Tatiana Maslany (@tatianamaslany) September 19, 2016
No one really thought Tatiana Maslany was going to win an Emmy. Not that she didn’t deserve an Emmy (or a wheelbarrow full of Emmys), but there was a lot working against her. She plays six hundred characters flawlessly, of course, but she does so on a sci-fi show that is filmed in Canada and airs on a niche channel. Mostly, though, the six hundred characters she plays are all women and one trans man who interact with other women (who are also all played by her, don’t you forget it) and awards shows have repeatedly proven that even the best stories don’t stand a chance of being honored if they disregard and dismiss dudes. But Tatiana did win! The internet will call it a victory for nerds, which is true, but more than that, it is a victory for women-dominated storytelling. Tatiana knows; she ended her speech with: “I feel so lucky to be on a show that puts women at the center. Thank you so much to the Academy. Thank you.”