Life was much simpler when the 2010 Emmys aired. Instagram wouldn't take over our lives for another two months, we were still talking about Lady Gaga's meat dress and instead of the state of the world, the only thing we were disappointed in was the LOST series finale.
At the helm of the Emmys that year was none other that Jimmy Fallon, who somehow managed to put together an opening number that was so beautifully executed, so unbelievably inclusive and so ridiculously joyous that it served as a sort of cultural reset. Here's an ode to that opening number, which lives rent-free in my head, has for a decade, and probably will for another decade.
It had a clear plot.
This wasn't just a funny opening monologue or a wild musical number. The skit was basically a short musical film. The premise? Jimmy Fallon needs to think of a way get the rag tag cast of Glee — Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Chris Colfer and Amber Riley — to the Emmys.
He decides he's going to do it not by giving them the comp tickets we all know he had because he was hosting, but by instead winning a cash prize at "Regionals" so they can buy their own tickets. The choice was timely, funny and compelling, much like Glee in 2010. Unlike many of the plots of the hit TV show, though, this opening sketch holds up.
The cast was a hodgepodge of celebrities (both Glee-adjacent and not) that just worked.
He started out, of course, with pal Tina Fey, and then we catch a glimpse of Kate Gosselin, who's told she's not invited to be in their group even though she fancies herself a great dancer after her run on Dancing with the Stars.
Then, they added in Mad Men's Jon Hamm, who was practicing with his coach, Betty White.
And it wouldn't be a Glee-themed skit if at least one person didn't get "slushied," so of course Jane Lynch popped out to reprise her role as Sue Sylvester (and to throw red slushies on Fey and Fallon).
Then, things turn musical, and more stars show up.
Who doesn't love a musical number? It's a crowd pleaser! The eclectic cast of characters, led by Fallon and Fey, start singing a Glee-ified rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." They're then joined by other stars who I'm 90% sure haven't been within six feet of each other since (and not because of coronavirus pandemic).
Fallon high fives Jorge Garcia from Lost as they saunter down a hallway. Nina Dobrev, taking Fallon's lyric "sprung from cages" literally, physically leaps out of her dressing room like a cat. Joel McHale comes out of nowhere and takes the second verse. Tim Gunn tells Fallon to "Make it work" and turns him into Bruce Springsteen.
Every time I watch the performance, I feel like I'm in a fever dream made up of 2010's most sought-after stars, all singing to "Emmy" as if she is their first love.
… and Randy Jackson shows up for some reason.
Not that I don't love Randy Jackson, but when materializes on stage to play dueling guitars with Fallon, it both delighted and confused me. And then Fallon sings, "Together Randy we can live with the sadness / I'll love you with all the madness in my soul," and, honestly, it all clicks: Fallon's mind knows no bounds.
It’s high energy.
They all run so much. I truly can't imagine running this much and not getting paid for it. They run down stairs, down escalators, down hallways, onto the stage, around the stage, around each other. And what made it so special is that every single one of them was fully committed.
Throughout the number, Fallon looks like he's having the time of his life, and I don't blame him. This is the most bizarre, most perfect opening in Emmys history. Every person on stage is living for it. Look at this photo:
Not a noodle arm in sight! Not a bored one out of the bunch! Keep in mind, these stars were all part of the biggest shows of that year, but they couldn't be more different. Kate Gosselin partnered with Jorge Garcia, Nina Dobrev danced with Jon Hamm, Joel McHale boogied with Jane Lynch! There are jazz squares. There is punching the air. Everyone is all in. The Emmys 2010 opening number: The great equalizer.
Above all else, it was an impeccably directed seven minutes of television. Only Jimmy Fallon could've pulled these people together to deliver an opener that was actually finale-worthy. Really! We could've gone home after this. Honestly, maybe Fallon should start negotiating peace treaties from now on. If he could get all these people into one opening number, what else can he do?
You can watch the full opening number here, and tune in to the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 20, at 8pm EST on ABC.
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