As someone who grew up a little too close to LA and has an affinity for all things artsy, I’ve always been a pretty big fan of awards shows. For the last five years or so, I’ve been pretty diligent about watching all of the shows that take place in this great (and terrible) city of Los Angeles. I’ve watched Modern Family win for Outstanding Comedy Series at the Emmy’s four times in a row, I’ve watched Tina Fey and Amy Poehler make a joke about Emma Stone’s cute but creepy big eyes (I relate to this joke on a deep level), and I’ve seen countless controversies over basically everything that happens at the Academy Awards.
What I never really paid a whole lot of attention to was the Tony Awards. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a big fan of theater. For some reason though, I’ve never just sat through the entirety of the Tonys; I usually just catch the highlights the next day. This year though, I watched the whole thing with some friends and participated fully (I baked a pie in honor of Waitress and everything).
It was amazing. The Tony Awards are by far the best awards show out there. Let me tell you why.
1) There are LIVE PERFORMANCES.
I knew this, obviously, since I usually catch the highlights. But like, you guys. This entire awards show is basically just getting to see the best parts of every amazing show on Broadway for free. Like, Hamilton performed three times (which was great but also possibly a little excessive), and I got to see it all FOR FREE from the comfort of my own home while eating pizza. Doesn’t get much better than that.
2) The diversity is rad.
What I think I love about the theater community most is that it seems to be a bunch of kids who probably didn’t fit in anywhere growing up and have now found this place where they make sense. There are people from all walks of life, from all over the world, who look all sorts of ways. They all made it here, to do this thing they love with other people who love it just as much. Also, I just want to take a second to point out that the awards for Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, Best Featured Actress, and Best Featured Actor of a Musical all went to people of color. And we all know that would never happen in Hollywood.
3) These people care about each other.
Of course, this is a competition and everyone is hoping to win. But unlike the Oscars where you get to see actors’ practiced “gracious loser” faces or see them exchange confused looks or turn to whisper what we can only assume to be jealous judgments to their friends, the Tonys have none of that. As their peers’ names were called out, there were looks of genuine excitement, gracious cheering, or at the very least, looks of “well, we all knew that was going to happen” (basically anytime someone from Hamilton won). These people are a community, and their support of one another is deeply encouraging, especially after the incidents of yesterday morning. They come together in a spirit of acceptance and generosity and do their damnedest to share that with everyone else.
And isn’t that pretty magical? Shouldn’t we be seeing more of this in awards shows? These people have worked so hard their entire lives for this award that they undoubtedly deserve yet they turn the focus off of themselves and onto the bigger picture. They spread a message of love and acceptance that we need more of in this world.
Like Lin-Manuel Miranda said in his acceptance speech, “love is love is love is love is love.” That simple message sums up the entirety of what the Tony Awards embody.