Jimmy Kimmel faced backlash after some viewers took issue with a controversial stunt that he pulled during Quinta Brunson’s Emmy Awards acceptance speech on Monday night.
Kimmel, 54, and Will Arnett, 52, who were the presenters for the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series award, began their segment with a bit in which the actor dragged Kimmel on stage by his ankles as he joked that the TV host had passed out after having “gotten into the skinny margaritas” backstage following his loss in his own category.
When Brunson, 32, walked onstage to accept her award after Arnett announced her as the winner, she had to step over Kimmel’s body to get to the microphone as he pretended to be comatose while laying on the floor.
“Jimmy, wake up, I won…Jimmy?” Brunson said as she bent over him while he remained committed to the act, though he did give her a thumb’s up
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Kimmel continued to lie at Brunson’s feet during the entirety of her acceptance speech as she thanked her cast, crew and family before being played off the stage.
The “Jimmy Kimmel Live” host’s antics sparked controversy online with social media users slamming Kimmel for stealing the spotlight during Brunson’s big moment.
However, the star, writer and creator of the hit ABC series responded gracefully when a reporter asked her about the incident during her post-awards press conference.
“I know Jimmy Kimmel, and I felt like the bit didn’t bother me that much,” she said.
“I don’t know what the Internet thinks,” she added. “I don’t know, I know him. And honestly, Jimmy gave me my first big late-night spot.” She went on to say that Kimmel was “one of the first people” to watch “Abbott Elementary”.
“He Instagram-messaged me that he saw this comedy and thought it was one of the greatest comedies of all-time and he was so excited that it was going to be on ABC,” Brunson said.
“So I think in that moment, I was just really happy that it was Jimmy up there. 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,” she continued.
“I’m going to be on his show on Wednesday, so I might punch him in the face,” she joked. “I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.”
A number of online users were not quite as accepting of the bit as they took to social media to blast Kimmel for being “rude”, “disrespectful” and a “sore loser”.
Some critics accused “The Man Show” creator of having “white male privilege” after the stunt.
One Twitter user wrote, “Can someone tell the human personification of white male privilege that is @jimmykimmel that he is not entitled to take up *all* the space — especially when that space belongs to @quintabrunson who had to literally navigate around him to accept her historic Emmy. Un. be. lievable.”
“If #QuintaBrunson stepping over #JimmyKimmel who literally laid in her spotlight on the day she won an Emmy isn’t a metaphor for what it means to be a WOC [woman of color] in a white man’s world I don’t know what is,” another fumed.
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However, some users asserted that the planned skit would have taken place regardless of who won the award.
“Abbott Elementary” took home a total of three Emmy Awards. In addition to Outstanding Writing, the sitcom won for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series and Sheryl Lee Ralph earned a nod for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
Brunson became the third Black writer and second Black female writer to win for Outstanding Writing. The show’s second season will premiere on Sept. 21 on ABC.
Kimmel’s show was nominated for Outstanding Talk Series but lost to “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.” The former “Win Ben Stein’s Money” host has been nominated for 18 Emmys and has won twice.
The 74th Annual Emmy Awards were held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sept. 12. Following the ceremony, Brunson and Kimmel appeared to poke fun at the controversy.
In a photo taken of the two at the Governor’s Ball, Brunson flashed a triumphant smile as she held her Emmy Award over Kimmel’s face.