Television

Jennifer Coolidge Tricked the Emmys at Its Own Absurd Game

The awards-speech countdown clock needs to be played off stage.

Jennifer Coolidge accepts Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for "The White Lotus" onstage during the 74th Primetime Emmys at Microsoft Theater on September 12, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Jennifer Coolidge at Monday’s Emmys. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

After Ted Lasso won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series on Monday night, the show’s cast and production team rose and assembled behind star and creator Jason Sudeikis on the awards show stage. But no sooner than Sudeikis launched into his speech—“OK, here we go!”—he began to sputter. “Wait, we just got here!” he protested, pointing down with one hand to the spot where, it’s true, they had just arrived. “All right, we’re down to 30 seconds,” he continued, throwing up his hand in resignation. As he spoke, his co-star and co-creator Brendan Hunt, standing beside him, began mouthing a countdown.

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It was just one of many moments during the ceremony when the show’s particularly merciless acceptance-speech timer, meant to be an off-camera presence visible to winners but not the audience, received an explicit shoutout. It was there during Julia Garner’s acceptance speech for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, just after she finished thanking her co-stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linney: “I have eight seconds left!” she chirped suddenly. There it was again during one of Jesse Armstrong’s speeches: “And that’s me!” he said, hearing the play-off music coming for him. By my count, it got way more airplay than Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos’ name did during the whole show—when Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-hyuk thanked Sarandos, he couldn’t help but throw in a teasing “I mentioned your name, OK?”

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The threat of getting interrupted by a conductor trying to shoo you off stage has been hanging over awards show winners for a long time now. But this Emmys ceremony seemed even worse than most in practice, if not reality. How is it that no show has figured out a seamless, inoffensive way to do it? From the mentions of the clock during this show, you’d think it was the first televised ceremony ever to show speakers a clock, or that it had lopped 15 seconds off the usual 45, throwing winners’ plans into chaos. These Emmys were supposed to be an improvement on the thank-you speech front: The show allowed nominees to submit lists of names of people they wanted to thank so that they would appear in a chyron on screen—though not everyone participated. Whatever the case, the time limit seemed more present than ever, and if the goal was to make the show run more smoothly, having several major winners panic about their remaining time out loud had the exact opposite effect.

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There was one winner, however, who found a way to beat the clock. When Jennifer Coolidge accepted her Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, she thanked a few people, then went on a loopy digression about her dress not fitting well after a lavender bath. As she should! Coolidge earned that Emmy precisely because of her penchant for loopy digressions. But it did take up some time, so when she finally got around to further thank you’s, the orchestra attempted to boot her offstage. She kept right on speaking over it. Then the song got louder and faster. “Wait, hold on! One thing. Wait, hold on …” she said, with such commitment that it sounded like a bit. Then, as if on cue, she started dancing along to the music. It was the most elegant solution to being played off stage possibly in the entire history of awards shows.

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