The pandemic-era Emmy Awards presented the winners’ acceptance speeches virtually, live from their homes. But bringing the public into people’s private spaces — even if they do belong to beloved celebrities — isn’t always a winning strategy.
“Over these last six months, the fact that we’ve all had to virtually open our homes up to people has been interesting,” Bobby Berk, design expert of Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” told The Times. “I understand how hard that can be for people — myself included. Especially in this industry, your home is the last place left in the world that’s really just for you.”
Berk‘s definition of a successful backdrop is not about specific decor decisions, “which are so personal and subjective,” so much as the effort to make one’s home presentable, whatever the style: “I’m always shocked when I get on a Zoom call and the person hasn’t really thought about what’s behind them — the unmade bed, the fast food containers on the nightstand, the plant that looks like it’s coming out of their head. Like, ‘I know you can see yourself on the screen. Do you think that’s a good look?’”
Berk evaluated the Emmy winners’ interiors for The Times during Sunday night’s telecast, applauding those with orderly decor and inspired design. As for the others, “Let’s just say they won two things tonight: an Emmy and a free consultation from me. I think that’s a nice, neutral way to tell them: Hey, you need help.”
The “Schitt’s Creek” crew
The “Schitt’s Creek” cast and creatives swept the comedy categories by winning the first seven awards of the night — Catherine O’Hara (lead actress), Eugene Levy (lead actor), Dan Levy (writing, supporting actor and directing, the latter with Andrew Cividino) and Annie Murphy (supporting actress), along with the award for best comedy series. They all delivered their acceptance speeches from a Toronto restaurant space, with tables socially distanced amid floral bouquets and heat lamps.
“‘Schitts Creek’ is the only show that needed to rent out an entire ballroom just to hold all of their well-deserved Emmys — CONGRATS!!!” said Berk. “And Dan is definitely the belle of this ballroom tonight!”
The “Watchmen” star expressed her thanks for the lead actress in a limited series award in an orange chair, positioned in front of various frames, a glass-encased candle and wooden window blinds.
Berk stayed focused on the tee King wore under her vibrant pink blazer. “How am I supposed to give my real opinion about this Comfort Inn in Scottsdale when she’s sharing her moment with Breonna Taylor?” he said of her shirt. “We Stan Regina King ... Regina QUEEN!!!”
Upon learning he’d won the Emmy for his performance(s) in “I Know This Much Is True,” Ruffalo momentarily sat in disbelief with his wife, Sunrise Coigney, on a tufted white sofa. Said Berk, “I approve of this cute little setup. The fresh flowers were the perfect touch.”
The writers of “Watchmen”
Damon Lindelof, Cord Jefferson and the rest of the “Watchmen” writers accepted the award for best limited series by standing together in a living room, outfitted with a few plants, patriotic art pieces and printed pillows atop textured chairs. It was a striking tableau to Berk: “I feel like this could be a re-creation of an important historic home in a museum.”
The director of the limited series “Unorthodox” sat surrounded by loved ones amid ornate wooden panels and a patterned rug. It was enough to give Berk “Clue” vibes. He joked, “Maria Schrader did it in the drawing room with the candlestick!”
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
The standout supporting actor of “Watchmen” accepted his Emmy award while seated on a gray couch. According to Berk, it would’ve been a flawless moment with a perfect backdrop — except for that back corner behind him. “Come on, straighten those curtains! I don’t demand much!”
The supporting actress of “Mrs. America” shared her thanks in front of colorful shelves filled with picture frames, books and candles. It’s a pleasing sight for the eyes and the mind, said Berk: “I need a list of her book collection, please!”
The “Succession” star was practically framed by the brocade curtains hanging behind him. Berk considered it the most appropriate backdrop: “Just like ‘Succession,’ this room is dark and dramatic.”
The “Euphoria” star — who made history with her win — was surrounded by loved ones, seated in a living room with plenty of large plants and a poster tribute to the Supremes. “I love that she is surrounded by friends and family,” Berk said. “And a small forest!”
The “Succession” creator proved that he is anything but afraid of a bold pattern. It fits the situation, said Berk: “Print on print on print on print, like [“Succession’s] Emmy on Emmy on Emmy on Emmy.”
The “Succession” director delivered a moving speech from what appears to be a hotel room, with a purple orchid positioned among the gray furnishings. Berk’s thoughts? “Dramatic lighting — that is all.”
The “Morning Show” actor gave thanks from a living room with guitars and framed photos and a plant in view. However, this wasn’t a winning combination for Berk, who commented with a friendly wink that “the background is blurred just enough.”
The “Ozark” actress was seated in front of a window for her big moment, but Berk wondered if a bouquet was somewhat in the way. “Always make sure you don’t have plants popping out of your head in the background,” he said, but only passively. “Who cares, though! Congratulations on Emmy number 2!”