For the second year in a row, the main narrative out of the Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony was that the Television Academy was embracing diversity. Wins for Donald Glover (Atlanta), Sterling K. Brown (This is Us), Riz Ahmed (The Night Of), Aziz Ansari, and Lena Waithe (Master of None) offered a vision of the television industry as inclusive, championing as it did creators and performers of color. But, just like last year, Latinos were nowhere to be found when it came to the big categories. But hey, at least we got to see Gina Rodriguez charm the crowd as a presenter and got to see newly-minted Emmy winner Alexis Bledel take the stage to present an award. In fact, the Gilmore Girls actress, who’s of Mexican and Argentine descent, won at last’s week Creative Arts ceremony for her portrayal of Ofglen in Best Drama Series winner The Handmaid’s Tale. That made her the first Latina to take the Guest Actress award since Rita Moreno herself, who won the award back in 1978!
That Moreno, whose work in Netflix’s One Day at a Time was snubbed this year, remains a reference point to this day when it comes to Emmy love for Latino performers – just goes to show how far we have yet to go. Last night’s ceremony, where as host Stephen Colbert joked, the industry was able to cheer about its embrace of diversity (who knew you could clap and pat yourself on the back at the same time?), you couldn’t help but feel that Latinos remained mere footnotes.
In fact, while last night’s ceremony was all about HBO’s hit miniseries Big Little Lies, Netflix’s Black Mirror: San Junipero, and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale – not to mention Saturday Night Live, a show that clearly rode its post-election season to its first Emmy win as Best Variety Sketch Series since 1993 – you had to go back to last week’s Creative Arts Emmys to find any other Latino winners. Celebrated as part of the crews of many of your favorite shows, winners like Carmen Cuba (who cast Stranger Things) and Risa Garcia (who worked on the costumes for Big Little Lies) point to slow if necessary gains behind the camera in an industry that remains quite homogenous despite a few high-profile wins where Colbert can still punctuate a joke about Sheriff Joe Arpaio hosting next year’s Latin Grammys with “Muy caliente.”