The 2020 Emmys Are the Biggest Award Show of the Pandemic So Far. Here’s How to Watch Them.

The 2020 Emmys Are the Biggest Award Show of the Pandemic So Far. Here’s How to Watch Them.
The biggest night in television is nearly here, but like almost every other night of 2020, it won’t look much like what we remember. Instead of the usual live production, the Emmys are going virtual. That means it will be light on the big, theatrical numbers, and there will be no red carpet pre-show. And while the Emmys aren’t the first award show of the COVID-19 era, they are definitely the most major so far—and producers are determined to make the event more polished than a Zoom call with trophies. Here’s everything you need to know about what the Emmys will be like this year, who the biggest contenders are, and how to watch the big show.

What’s the format of the show?

Despite all the other changes this year, at least one thing about the Emmys will be familiar: for the third time, Jimmy Kimmel is hosting the event. He’ll be emceeing from Los Angeles’s Staples Center, presiding over an arena empty of everyone but of crew members and a few celebrities. Though there won’t be any red carpet proceedings in the run-up to the show, stars may still turn out some memorable looks from the comfort of their homes.

If you’re still vaguely traumatized by the awkward lo-fi variety shows of the early days of the pandemic, Emmys producers are apparently working to make the show seem something like the glossy production viewers are used to. Winners won’t be making their acceptance speeches via their webcams, as the show has provided nominees with pro-quality lights, cameras, and mics. Though segments have been pre-recorded, one of the event’s producers told Deadline that the show will be 90 percent live.

Kimmel isn’t feeling too optimistic about the show, which he’s producing in addition to hosting, however. “I know everyone will get crazy when I say this, but this will probably be the lowest-rated Emmys of all time,” he told Deadline this week. But he’s not given away much of what the virtual proceedings will actually hold. When asked by The Hollywood Reporter how an overlong acceptance speech can be cut off during a virtual performance, he joked that he’ll “have a guy outside their house who’s going to just turn off the main circuit breaker.

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Who are expected to be the big winners?

At the Television Critics Association Awards, which were held earlier this week and which can serve as a potential Emmys predictor, Watchmen, Succession, and Schitt’s Creek were among the big winners, taking home prizes for Outstanding Movie, Miniseries, Or Special, Outstanding Achievement In Drama and Outstanding Achievement in Comedy. The less buzzed-about Morning Show could also snag some wins, particularly for Jennifer Anniston and Billy Crudup, who are nominated for Best Actress in a Drama Series and Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

How can you watch the show?

The show will air on Sunday, September 20th, at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC. The show won’t be available for free viewing online, but you can watch if you’re a subscriber to Hulu Live TV, AT&T Now, or YouTube TV.


Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.

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