Can an awards ceremony survive without an emcee? It’s a question that led to much hand-wringing leading up to the 2019 Oscars — which Kevin Hart was fired from after his homophobic tweets resurfaced — but which was resoundingly answered with a yes by the end of the smoothly-run evening. The 2019 Oscars inadvertently started a trend of having a host-less ceremony, and now the next major awards show is following suit: the 2019 Emmys will not have a host, either.
The Television Academy and Fox, this year’s network for the Emmy’s, came upon this decision together, and with much less drama than the Oscars did. In speaking to Variety, the producers say this decision was made so that the focus can be on the actual nominees and winners, rather than on an emcee’s comedy routines — which, depending on the comedian, can sometimes even detract from the night, like Seth MacFarlane’s ill-conceived "We Saw Your Boobs" song did during the 2013 Oscars.
“We had a discussion very early about getting into the awards as quickly as possible. You have a host, and it can be a bit hit or miss," producer Guy Carrington explained to Variety. "It’s a lot of time before you give out the first award, and the awards are what we’re there for. We’re there to celebrate the content and the people who make it. We made a conscious effort to focus on that.”
By cutting the opening monologue and the various other bits that the host devises, the awards ceremony is able to save about 20 minutes — quite a bit of time for a ceremony that’s notorious for running over it’s allotted slot. This is especially important for the Emmy’s, which has 27 categories to run through, the largest of all the major televised awards ceremonies.
The Emmy’s telecast will be divided into five parts, separated out by TV genres: comedy, drama, limited series, unscripted, and variety. Without a host, it’s now up to the presenters themselves to bring meaning and levity to the evening. “We want the first presenters to come out and talk about the significance of those particular genres of television in the past season,” producer Don Mischer said to Variety.
If the 2019 Oscars proved anything, it’s that a host isn’t needed to make an awards ceremony memorable — Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry’s hilariously elaborate costumes, for example, stole the night without the need for any emcee intervention. If anything, the lack of a host will encourage the actors themselves to get more creative in their presentations and speeches, something Mischer and Carrington said award’s ceremonies have been asking celebs to do for years.
Since the Emmy’s rotates each year between the major networks, it’s possible Fox simply couldn’t find an emcee like former Emmy’s hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, or any Saturday Night Live alum because Fox doesn’t have a similar late-night program currently running. But frankly it’s probably a good thing right now the Emmy’s shied away from putting a late night comedian front and center.
Last year’s Emmy’s opening number featured hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che handing off the mic to fellow SNL stars Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson to sing a song about "solving diversity," which many viewers found to be done in poor taste. Just this week, SNL got in trouble yet again for hiring racist comedian Shane Gillis in an attempt to appeal to conservative viewers, something that’s likely still on many viewer’s minds. Not having a comedian host means the Emmy’s can just dodge any comparisons or references entirely.
As long as this year’s Emmy’s doesn’t trot out Sean Spicer again, the decision to forego a host for the awards ceremony will likely lead to a more fluid and well-run show, with more time for the presenters to find their groove. Ultimately, a host-less ceremony keeps focus on where it should be: on the nominated casts and creatives who make the TV shows we love.
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