In the pandemic era, the Emmy Awards are not the first major event that can't be a traditional shindig, but they're perhaps the most high-profile awards show so far to attempt quite this kind of socially distanced, mask-wearing, virtual ceremony. Host Jimmy Kimmel and everyone producing the broadcast had a pretty tough hill to climb in making it watchable.
And surprisingly enough, it was. It wasn't just watchable; it was ... pretty good.
The opening bit featured Kimmel apparently doing a typical Emmy monologue, but of course it was just a monologue that they mixed with old audience footage. While it probably went on too long (what doesn't?), it was a pretty effective way of easing people into this strange format, like going into a cold pool a few inches at a time. I wouldn't have come up with it as an idea, and it didn't seem like an especially good idea as it became clear what they were doing. But it looked better by the time they'd taken it through to Kimmel saying that, of course, they were not all together, there was not an audience, and they'd be mostly showing people in remote locations.
They did have a sort of skeleton crew on hand with Kimmel, with a few presenters there in person with him, including Jennifer Aniston, Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross. The nominees in each major category were read, and then the nominees would be shown on camera at home, waiting to hear the results. The winners got to make speeches on video, just like the presentations you get to make at work.
But there was something kind of ... sweet about it. In some cases, with shows that had many nominations, casts and crews had gathered together, [mostly] wearing masks and in some cases (Watchmen was one) making sure you knew they'd been tested. The result, while it wasn't normal (what is?), achieved an intimacy and a genuinely unpredictable quality that is exactly what's missing in nearly every awards show.