What You Didn't See At The 2020 Emmy Awards

Ah, the Emmys! Like other recent award shows, the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards had their own take on the COVID-19 pandemic-era awards show. Held Sept. 20, 2020 on ABC and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the Emmys may have been the most technologically impressive award show of 2020 yet, but also, the strangest? Broadcast fully live (and livestreamed) and socially distanced — hazmat tuxedos and all — it was a three-hour, mostly successful, possible glimpse into the future of major award shows. 

Every year, the prestigious ceremony — one might even call it "television's biggest night" — honors the best and brightest creators, performers, and craftspeople the small screen has to offer. It's typically held at a ritzy Los Angeles, Calif. venue (the Microsoft Theater since 2008) with a buttoned-up red carpet and some meme-worthy moments to follow. It's where Phoebe Waller-Bridge went viral for iconically smoking a cigarette after winning an "armful of Emmys" in 2019, and where former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (no, not Melissa McCarthy's Sean Spicer) controversially mocked...himself in 2017. For better or worse, there are usually a few headline-making moments during the show. 

This year's Emmys may not have been as salacious as it was joyous. From Schitt's Creek winning seemingly everything to Zendaya becoming the youngest person to win best actress in a drama for Euphoria, the show was logistically impressive, and yet there was still plenty of drama behind the scenes. Here's what you didn't see at the 2020 Emmy Awards.

Jimmy Kimmel hosted from an empty arena

A tux-donning Jimmy Kimmel charmingly hosted the 2020 Emmy Awards live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but if you thought the roaring, star-studded audience looked (and sounded) a little too familiar, then, good detective work. According to Vox, Kimmel was essentially alone on stage for the entire show, broadcasting from the "mostly empty" arena.

Kimmel delivered his monologue to "old footage of dressed-up celebrities applauding," along with cardboard cutouts, and a select few real-life guests, including Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston, reported TV Line. It made for a vibe that felt a little canned but fun. Additionally, guests presented from the sidelines throughout the show. It was definitely risky, and apparently, took a lot of planning. "We have no idea what's going to happen — and that's part of the fun," said Guy Carrington, who executive-produced the telecast, per the New York Post. "It's given me a few sleepless nights, but people will be talking about it the next day." 

The idea was to somehow make the virtual show still feel fancy. "The [telecast] should still feel like it has some gravitas, since it's the biggest night of the year for the TV industry," Carrington said. "We don't want the ceremony to feel like a video conference." 

The fake audience move was a little strange, but in general, mission accomplished! It did still felt like the Emmys.

The Emmy Awards livestream was a 'logistical nightmare'

If Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 2020 Emmy Awards from an empty arena, where were the nominees? 

All across the globe and livestreamed in from more than 100 individual feeds, of course! "The weirdest Emmys ever," included nominees standing by live from "New York to Los Angeles, from London to Tel Aviv" reported Vox, which meant we went inside their homes, their backyards, and more. The show sent "130 cameras to 20 cities and 10 countries" so the winners could set up shop and react in real time, reported CNBC. Nominees were sent "a ring light, a laptop, a boom mic, and a camera," with producers reportedly monitoring every feed at once from the Staples Center. "If there's 135 feeds coming in it's kind of like watching 140 sports matches all at one time. You have so many things coming in and things maybe not coming in. It's a logistical nightmare," said producer Reginald Hudlin, per the AV Club. "Staples was the only facility that could handle all those signals coming in and out." 

But livestream we did! And that means we got to see Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Alex Borstein hilariously drinking in bed with a dog and David Letterman delivering talk show one-liners from what looked like his farm. "David Letterman was/is the best. That's it. That's the tweet," one Twitter user wrote

Presenters were sent custom-made hazmat suits

If you thought the laugh tracks and the cardboard audience was strange ... bring in the hazmat suits. According to Variety, the Emmys announced just days before the show that some of its presenters "may be visiting some of the winners live" to hand out awards while wearing couture personal protective equipment. The measure was taken to "ensure the health and safety of all of our winners and the presenter by following all of the health and safety protocols — with a twist," an Emmys rep told Entertainment Weekly. 

According to People, the stylish suits (well, stylish as far as hazmat suits go) were designed by Katja Cahill, a costume designer who's worked at the Oscars and Grammy Awards, and by Executive Producer Guy Carrington. And because it wouldn't be an awards show if we weren't critiquing outfits, those suits were both praised and roasted by viewers. "Please tell me those emmy interns are being paid for wearing the hazmat bowtie suits," one Twitter user wrote. "They really have mfs in hazmat suits standing outside these celebs homes holding an [expletive] emmy that they have to watch walking away if they dont win," pondered another. Yep, they really did, as broadcast by Emmy-loser Ramy Youssef.

Indeed, the logistics weren't clear — and we didn't see much of the suits during the show (maybe for the best). Then again, during a show where Randall Park took the stage alongside an alpaca, would we have even been phased if Stay Puft Marshmallow Man delivered the trophies?

Zendaya stunned us; Jennifer Aniston confused us

Without an in-person red carpet and a dress code advertised as "come as you are," there were definitely some fashion hits and misses at the 2020 Emmy Awards. Take Zendaya, who became the youngest person to win the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama. Before that win, she had already won us over with her pre-show look. "And so it begins..." the star captioned her first look of the night – a plunging black and violet John Rogers gown and Louboutin heels, per Fox News. The dramatic pre-show outfit was deemed "the quarantine reprieve we needed" by InStyle

Meanwhile, Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross took our breath away and hasn't given it back-ish, showcasing a head-turning, glittering gold Alexandre Vauthier couture gown on Instagram.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Aniston hyped up the show with a very different take on the pre-show look. "Emmys prep... in my other mask" the Morning Show actress captioned an Instagram post in lounge-wear and a beauty mask. "Congratulations to the nominees and all of the amazing performances we've seen this year." Welp, they did say come as you are, and with presenters walking around in black tie hazmat suits, clearly anything goes.  

Both pre-show hosts tested positive for COVID-19

Things were tough on the 2020 Emmys pre-show front. Actor Vivica A. Fox and TV personality Giuliana Rancic were set to host the E! Live from the Red Carpet pre-show, but according to People, both stars tested positive for COVID-19 leading up to the event. 

"We have to send our best wishes to Vivica A. Fox, who up until a few days ago was going to be here with us tonight," replacement host Brad Goreski said. Fox issued a statement that said, "I am terribly sorry I cannot be with my E! family tonight! Unfortunately, I have tested positive for the coronavirus. So, in an abundance of caution I am isolating myself at home. During these unprecedented times, it's more important than ever that we follow all safety and health rules and guidelines to protect ourselves and each other." 

Rancic also released a statement following her diagnosis. "Hey, everyone. As I go into my 20th year on the E! red carpet I have to say I do not take missing an award show lightly, but unfortunately this year is just so different," she said in a video, per Deadline. "As part of E! and NBCUniversal's very strict testing guidelines, especially before an event like this, I did find out that I tested positive for COVID-19." 

All said, the 72nd Emmy Awards truly captured the essence of 2020.