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Emmys go to Lizzo—upsetting Drag Race—and to a Survivor, Amazing Race player

Emmys go to Lizzo—upsetting Drag Race—and to a Survivor, Amazing Race player
Lizzo accepts the Emmy for competition reality show during the 74th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 12, 2022 (Photo by Chris Haston/NBC)

Amazon Prime Video’s Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls won the Emmy for outstanding reality competition at the 74th annual Prime-time Emmys, upsetting RuPaul’s Drag Race, which has won in the category four consecutive times.

Also during the telecast, a former player on multiple reality TV competitions won two Emmys, and gave a shout-out to Survivor.

Lizzo accepted the award with an impassioned speech that was an absolute highlight of a night that delivered some incredible highs—Sheryl Lee Ralph’s magnificent acceptance for her Emmy will probably never be eclipsed in the history of Emmy speeches—and some terrible bits and banter (more on that in a moment).

Lizzo with her Emmy for Lizzo's Watch Out For The Big Grrrls at the 74th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards
Lizzo with her Emmy for Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls at the 74th Annual Prime-time Emmy Awards (Photo by Chris Haston/NBC)

Lizzo first shouted out to her Big Grrls, who were relegated to a balcony and couldn’t get to the stage even after she called for them to join her multiple times. Lizzo said:

I’m very emotional. The trophy is nice, but my emotion is for these people who are on this stage with me. The stories that they shared—they’re not that unique, they just don’t get the platform. Telling stories—let’s just tell more stories.

When I was a little girl, all I wanted to see was me in the media. Someone fat like me, Black like me, beautiful like me. If I could go back and tell little Lizzo something, I’d be like, You gonna see that person, but bitch, it’s gonna have to be you.

Where my Big Grrls? Are they here? Come! Come! One year ago, these women were filming this television show that would change their life forever. They’re Emmy-award winning superstars who are going on a world tour. Make some noise for my Big Grrls!

RuPaul and Michelle Visage at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sept. 12, 2022
RuPaul and Michelle Visage at the 74th Prime-time Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sept. 12, 2022. (Photo by Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)

The competition Emmy has now been presented 20 times, starting in 2003, but it’s gone to just five shows, because the Television Academy’s voters tend to keep voting for the same show year after year, despite its quality in that particular year.

Here’s the current win tally:

  • Amazing Race: 10
  • The Voice: 4
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race: 4
  • Top Chef: 1
  • Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls: 1

I thought it was a safe bet that Drag Race would repeat again, especially after RuPaul won his seventh consecutive Emmy for reality TV host last weekend.

So I was delighted for this upset. Lizzo’s show is really terrific, and I absolutely recommend it, though the cynical side of me wonders how many voters saw the show versus saw her name on the ballot.

Survivor gets a shout-out, reality TV gets shit

Former Survivor and Amazing Race player Mike White accepts the Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie award for "The White Lotus" during the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards
Former Survivor and Amazing Race player Mike White accepts the Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie award for “The White Lotus” during the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards (Photo by Chris Haston/NBC)

The reality competition award was presented by Markella Kavenagh and Ismael Cruz Córdova, who star in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: the Rings of Power.

They were given scripted banter that shat all over the only reality TV category presented as part of the prime-time Emmys telecast. (All the other reality TV awards were presented last weekend.)

Markella asked, “How cool is it that we get to give away an Emmy for these people competing against each other?” Ismael replied that he was “a little bit conflicted” because “I don’t think TV shows should compete against each other. You know, it’s about art; it’s not a competition.”

And then, before announcing the nominees, he said, with the most emotionless and bored intonation possible, “Now you know how passionate I am about this.”

Well, guess how passionate I am about your shitty show? But I digress.

In much better news, The Amazing Race and Survivor star Mike White won three Emmys, the first two individual awards for directing and writing his HBO show The White Lotus, which also won for limited series.

During his first speech, he thanked his parents and became emotional when he said “my Dad, who’s struggling right now.” Mel White competed with Mike twice on The Amazing Race.

When he accepted the second award, for writing, Mike White said,

“I was on Survivor. And on Survivor, the way to stay in the game is you lower your threat level, and it’s like, now I feel like I’ve raised my threat level. I just want to stay in the game. Awards are great. I love writing, I love doing what I do. Don’t come for me, don’t vote me off the island, please!”

How about Mike White presents the reality TV award next year? Because he actually appreciates the genre, unlike so many people in the industry.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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