Ellen DeGeneres is officially the peopliest person, the “awardiest awardee,” in People’s Choice Awards history, after the daytime host swept the three awards she was nominated for at the 2017 edition, taking her tally to a staggering 20 wins.
As stars and fans packed the Microsoft Theater L.A. Live for the 2017 People’s Choice Awards, hosted by Joel McHale, DeGeneres and her record-breaking moment were the center of attention, trumping the upcoming presidential inauguration. And while Trump jokes and jabs were kept to a minimum, the award winners took time to speak for the power of women in Hollywood, and to express their hope that their films and TV shows might bring a little joy into the current global climate.
However, with the good of DeGeneres’ victory and Blake Lively’s “girl power” speech, there was also the bad of jokes falling flat, and the ugly of the teleprompter breaking down in the middle of Kristen Bell’s introduction of the favorite humanitarian award, which this year went to Tyler Perry.
So without further ado, here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2017 People’s Choice Awards:
GOOD: Diversity in Hollywood is still a hot topic and Wednesday night, several female winners, including Jennifer Lopez and Blake Lively, took the chance to stress the need for “strong female characters” like the ones they play in “Shades of Blue” and “The Shallows,” respectively. “You voted for girl power,” Lively said while accepting her favorite dramatic movie actress award. “We’re sending a message to Hollywood that we want to hear stories about women,” the actress added.
BAD: What many people may not realize watching the awards at home is that throughout the People’s Choice Awards performance, the front five rows of the theater resemble a celebrity revolving door. Stars are whisked in and out of the theater and strategically ushered into their seats like pawns on a chessboard, their bums barely touching their chairs in time for the end of the commercial break. Meanwhile, also during the breaks, the stars who are already there are semi-mobbed by excited fans while at the same time engaging in celebrity speed dating: they gather together in clusters, exchange gushing compliments and selfies, before returning to their seats. It would all be very sweet if it wasn’t for how rushed and superficial the whole experience feels.
UGLY: Around halfway through the performance, McHale made a joke referencing the teleprompter break down and other gaffes at the Golden Globes, assuring everyone that no such mistakes would occur tonight, before dropping a People’s Choice trophy. The joke got a little too real later, when the teleprompter broke down near the end of Bell’s introduction for the favorite humanitarian award, which went to Perry. The actress was at first flustered: “and the teleprompter has gone out,” she said with a surprised, forced smile on her face.
GOOD: After a montage of Perry’s work and philanthropy had flashed across the big screens, Bell made a quick apology for not memorizing her introductory speech.”I feel like just a moment ago I pulled the curtain and showed some vulnerability. I was in fact using a teleprompter and I’m embarrassed that I didn’t memorize it but, to my credit there were way too many things to memorize, the good deeds of Tyler Perry,” Bell said. “I hope you’ll cut me some slack,” she added, and the audience did, giving her an encouraging round of applause before Perry began his speech.
GOOD: While the teleprompter issue momentarily derailed the show, Perry’s moving and powerful speech brought things back on track. “What I’ve found and been so important to me right now, is that as I look at the state of the world and the state of our country and everything that’s going on, it is so important that we know no matter how dark it gets we all have to be lights for each other,” Perry said. In the face of “darkness, negativity, death, destruction, terrorism, murder, hate, racism,” Perry encouraged the audience not to allow these things to consume us and to “bring some balance and shed some light”….powerful stuff!
BAD: McHale is unlikely to score the Oscars hosting gig any time soon. “The Great Indoors” actor came off as likeable enough and started off with a mildly amusing couple of gags in his opening monologue. However, thereafter, many of his jokes fell flat, and his exchanges with Tom Hanks and Ken Jeong were just plain awkward. After an amusing opening eight-baby stroller bit, McHale came out with one of the only election-related jokes of the night, which was greeted with near silence: “The one night of the year when Hollywood reacts positively to what the middle of the country thinks.” At the very end of the ceremony, McHale rushed through a quick thank you and pointed upwards as confetti exploded across the stage — he looked like he wanted to get out of there and frankly, so did most of the audience.
UGLY: With 64 winners in as many categories presented in only two hours, it’s understandable that a handful of the People’s Choice Awards are handed out during the commercial break and announced straight afterwards. However, it’s a shame that those winners, who tonight included powerhouse shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and up-and-coming stars like Lilly Singh and Cameron Dallas, didn’t get a chance to have their voices heard. Even the award for favorite movie, surely one of the largest, was buried among a slew of other awards.
GOOD: To end on a good note, the entire section of the awards dedicated to honoring DeGeneres was arguably the highlight the entire show. The audience even gave her a standing ovation before Justin Timberlake had even announced who he was honoring in his presentation. DeGeneres’ speech was characteristically quirky and off the wall, and the 20 smartly dressed men holding her awards, while not a subtle gesture as Timberlake pointed out, made DeGeneres’ achievement and astounding popularity really sink home.