As the Emmys reminded us in their opening number, television hasn’t always done the best job of representing American diversity onscreen. In its turn, the Television Academy has done a pretty bad job of recognizing the achievements of actors of color, even in iconic roles. So in an effort to slightly straighten the scales of television justice, Michael Che hosted the Reparation Emmys right in the middle of the Regular Emmys, giving long-overdue trophies to unjustly overlooked actors like Jaleel “Steve Urkel” White:
None of the Reparation Emmy winners had ever won an Emmy before, and only Marla Gibbs even got a nomination, picking up five Outstanding Supporting Actress nominations in a row between 1981 and 1985 for her role on The Jeffersons without winning. Meanwhile, Bill Cosby, whose Emmy trophies Che was ostensibly Robin-Hooding, was never nominated for The Cosby Show: Cosby won Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series three years in a row from 1966–1968 for his work on I Spy, then won Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special in 1969 for The Bill Cosby Special. In 1970, he picked up his last Emmy nomination for his role on The Bill Cosby Show, but didn’t win. Congratulations to the surprisingly prescient Emmy voters of the 1980s for not recognizing Cosby’s work, and congratulations to the winners of the Reparation Emmys for their victories. We hope they got to keep the trophies.