The 2017 Emmy Awards was an amazing night for women—both in front of and behind the camera. Not only were a slew of female-fronted and created TV shows nominated, they actually won. Several times over. Hulu’s searing drama series The Handmaid’s Tale and HBO’s Big Little Lies especially emerged as the powerhouses of the evening, each taking home eight awards.
But it’s not just the amount of awards won that made tonight’s Emmys so special. The show broke some major new ground, too. Julia Louis-Dreyfus made Emmys history by becoming the first performer to win six Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series awards for the same character (Selina Meyer in Veep). Lena Waithe, who plays a queer woman of color on Master of None, is now the first Black woman in history to win the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. Also incredible: Reed Morano is the first woman in 22 years to win for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for The Handmaid’s Tale.
Tonight was also trailblazing for the types of female-fronted content honored. Every series responsible for tonight’s resurgence of girl power—from Handmaid‘s to Big Little Lies to Veep—features nuanced characters and narratives about women’s experiences that haven’t been fully explored. Domestic abuse, sexism in Hollywood, the patriarchy, misogyny—all of these very real issues received proper representation. We’re finally seeing women on TV with full complexity and humanity.
It’s a welcome change from the two-dimensional wives and girlfriends of TV past. As the world progresses, Hollywood is finally starting to realize women and men want to watch stories about real people—their struggles, their triumphs, their fears. For female-fronted shows, the best way to do this is by putting women at the helm of projects. As Reese Witherspoon said during her acceptance speech for Outstanding Limited Series (Big Little Lies), it’s time to let women be the heroes of their own stories.
Tonight’s sweep should also open up Hollywood’s eyes to how lucrative female-oriented TV shows and films can be. The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lieswere two of the most-talked about new shows this year. This buzz turned into viewers, which has now turned into multiple Emmy wins. And money! If Hollywood doesn’t take this as a sign that women’s entertainment is mainstream—and not niche—then there’s a major problem.
The Handmaid’s Tale is coming back for a second season, and there’s talk of a Big Little Lies season two (fingers crossed), but hopefully these aren’t the only female-fronted shows we’re talking about next year. There are so many more stories to explore, and tonight’s Emmys prove people very much want to come along for those rides. Cheers to that.
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