As presenters of best writing in a comedy series, Will Arnett dragged a seemingly passed-out Kimmel onto the stage, with Arnett quipping to the crowd that this is the “13th time in a row that he’s lost and he just got into the skinny margaritas back there.” When Brunson took the stage to accept the prize for her ABC series Abbott Elementary, which was her first-ever Emmy, Kimmel remained onstage.
Arnett tried to push Kimmel out of the way to make room for the winner, with Brunson telling him, “Jimmy, wake up. I won.” Kimmel gave her a thumbs-up but continued to lie down on the stage throughout the speech, and it wasn’t until after Brunson was done that Arnett dragged him back off. For her part, Brunson appeared to be a good sport about the bit, adding the late-night host’s name to the end of her list of thank-you’s.
Brunson addressed the moment backstage, saying it “didn’t bother me that much” but that she wasn’t sure how Internet users might feel. She explained that Kimmel was the host who provided her first major late-night appearance and had previously told her he considers Abbott Elementary to be one of TV’s great comedies.
“I think in that moment, I was just really happy that it was Jimmy up there,” she told reporters. “I kind of consider him one of the comedy godfathers; I’m a huge fan of Will Arnett, so I was wrapped up in the moment. I don’t know — tomorrow maybe I’ll be mad at him. I’m gonna be on his show on Wednesday, so I might punch him in the face. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”
Clearly, not all of the ceremony’s viewers appreciated Kimmel’s presence while Brunson gave her heartfelt speech, with a number of social media users noting that it didn’t appear to be a respectful decision to remain on the stage during her big moment.
“Jimmy Kimmel not moving to get out of Quinta Brunson’s way is a (shitty, selfish, bullshit) choice,” tweeted Andy Dehnart, who is secretary of the Television Critics Association.
Author and activist Ernest Owens tweeted, “Can’t lie, I’m still annoyed that Jimmy Kimmel’s annoying ass was on the ground trying to take attention away from Quinta Brunson’s historic victory.”
Other journalists weighed in as well. New York magazine’s E. Alex Jung posted, “kimmel better get his ass out of the way for quinta.” Additionally, HuffPost editor Philip Lewis wrote, “Jimmy Kimmel should have left the stage during Quinta’s speech. Highly disrespectful.”
Podcast host Sam Sanders tweeted, “Kimmel playing dead on the ground right next to a black woman accepting her rightful place in the future of tv is such a stinging metaphor.”
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Kimmel’s team for comment. Footage of Kimmel getting dragged offstage, which was not shown on TV, is below.