Television’s British invasion was on full display Sunday night at the 73rd Emmys. Netflix’s “The Crown” and Apple TV Plus’ “Ted Lasso” — series both set in the U.K. and featuring predominantly British casts — led the competition in both the comedy and drama fields. The two shows not only won the major categories they were expected to take, but also surprised in the races where their nominees weren’t considered the frontrunners.
But the year also signaled TV’s permanent streaming invasion. For the first time in history, streamers took all three major program categories, as the comedy, drama and limited/anthology fields were all dominated by digital rather than traditional linear TV. Not only did Apple TV Plus make history by becoming the quickest ever streamer to land a series prize — in just its second year of operation — but Netflix, which came into the Emmys having not won a major series category, finally scored the big one. Actually, on Sunday night, it won two of them: “The Crown,” for drama, and “The Queen’s Gambit,” for limited or anthology series. Both of those programs were this year’s big winners, earning 11 Emmys each when both Creative Arts and Sunday’s primetime ceremony are included.
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Netflix ended up with 44 Emmy wins this year (including both Creative Arts and Primetime), far ahead of HBO and HBO Max, which scored a combined 18. At Sunday’s ceremony, both Netflix and HBO/HBO Max won nine.
More victorious talent hailing from across the pond: Michaela Coel, who grabbed the win for best writing in a limited/anthology/TV movie, “Mare of Easttown” star Kate Winslet, for actress in a limited/anthology/TV movie, and “Halston’s” Ewan McGregor for actor in limited/anthology/TV movie.
But still, the evening was mostly about “The Crown” and “Ted Lasso.” “If you want an Emmy, get yourself booked on ‘Ted Lasso’ or ‘The Crown,’” said Dr. Phil McGraw, of all people, during a pre-taped sketch in the middle of the Emmy telecast. And he was mostly right.
“The Crown’s” 11 total Emmys included six on Sunday night. Besides drama series, “The Crown” nabbed the lead drama actress win, for awards catnip Olivia Colman (predict against her at your own risk, although this is her first Emmy), as well as Josh O’Connor, who also won his first Emmy.
Colman was victorious over co-star Emma Corrin, as well as Mj Rodriguez (“Pose”), Uzo Aduba (“In Treatment”), Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Jurnee Smollett (“Lovecraft Country”). And O’Connor scored over last year’s winner, Billy Porter (“Pose”), Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”), Regé-Jean Page (“Bridgerton”), Jonathan Majors (“Lovecraft Country”) and Matthew Rhys (“Perry Mason”).
Gillian Anderson, expected to win as the frontrunner in the supporting actress in a drama series category, pulled it off over co-stars Helena Bonham Carter and Emerald Fennell, as well as Aunjanue Ellis (“Lovecraft Country”) and Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, Yvonne Strahovski and Samira Wiley from “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
“The Crown” Season 4 is the first season of TV to win more than four acting Emmys, having won five (including one last week in the guest drama actress field, for Claire Foy). It’s only the second show, following “The Handmaid’s Tale,” to sweep all three female drama races.
“The Crown” kicked off its winning streak for the evening with Peter Morgan’s Emmy for writing on a drama series, while Jessica Hobbs scored for drama directing. Hobbs is just the fourth woman in history to win a drama directing Emmy.
“Not a lot of women have won this award, so I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of some really extraordinary people,” Hobbs said. “I’m very grateful for the path that they led. And I’d particularly like to pay tribute to my mom who, at 77, is still directing.”
As for the comedy field, as Jason Sudeikis’ TV character might quip, Sunday night was as like the female star of “Shameless” and a sandwich bun: In other words, “Ted Lasso” is on an Emmy roll.
Or, to paraphrase Roy Kent’s rally cry, “’Ted Lasso’ is here, it’s there, it’s every-f—ing-where!”
Besides comedy series, the Apple TV Plus series’ freshman season won for Sudeikis as comedy actor, Hannah Waddingham for comedy supporting actress and Brett Goldstein for comedy supporting actor. All told, “Ted Lasso” won seven Emmys this year, including four on Sunday night. That’s not quite enough to beat the record for a freshman comedy, held by “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” with eight, but it came close.
“Heck of a year,” Sudeikis said.
The “Ted Lasso” comedy win also made network history for Apple TV Plus, which is just in its second year of eligibility as a programmer. That’s the soonest that any streamer has won a major program category award: Hulu won in its third year of eligibility for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” while Amazon was in its sixth year with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
The show’s reign began at the start of the ceremony with Waddingham’s big win for supporting actress, over co-star Juno Temple, as well as “Hacks” star Hannah Einbinder, “The Flight Attendant’s” Rosie Perez and “Saturday Night Live’s” Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong.
“Jesus Christ on a mic!” Waddingham screamed as she took the stage, kicking off a night of several great acceptance speeches (many of which, coincidentally or not, came with a lot of yelling).
That immediately was followed by Goldstein’s win in the comedy supporting actor category for playing Roy Kent on the show, beating out his co-workers Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed and Jeremy Swift, as well as “SNL’s” Kenan Thompson and Bowen Yang, as well as “The Kominsky Method’s” Paul Reiser and Carl Clemons-Hopkins for “Hacks.”
“It’s the most privileged privilege and pleasures of my life,” Goldstein said. “And this is the fucking icing on the cake. I’m so sorry. Please have me back.”
As expected, Sudeikis’ lead actor in a comedy Emmys win came following his first-ever nomination, opposite Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”), Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”), William H. Macy (“Shameless”) and Kenan Thompson (“Kenan”).
And yes, “Ted Lasso” won the lion’s share of the comedy categories in which it was nominated, but fellow freshman sensation “Hacks” did quite well for itself as well. “Hacks” star Jean Smart won the Emmy for outstanding comedy actress, as expected — and hoped for by many in the entire industry, including the in-person audience at the show, which gave her a standing ovation.
“’Hacks’ has been such a thrill, I can’t tell you,” said Smart, who started her speech by acknowledging the death of her husband, actor Richard Gilliland, six months ago.
Smart won over Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”), Aidy Bryant (“Shrill”), Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”) and Allison Janney (“Mom”).
“Hacks” also pulled off the win in comedy writing, for creators Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky, as well as directing, which went to Statsky.
“The Queen’s Gambit” came into Sunday with the most wins at the Creative Arts Emmys, with nine. At the Primetime ceremony, it capped the night by winning limited series — in which it beat “I May Destroy You,” “Mare of Easttown,” “The Underground Railroad” and “WandaVision.” Its other win on the night was directing for a limited series for Scott Frank, who wouldn’t stop reciting his lengthy acceptance speech, even as the show’s producers attempted to play him off multiple times.
Add that to last week’s win for “Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square” for outstanding movie, and Netflix’s overdue thirst for a major Emmy win, something that had eluded the streamer as Hulu and Amazon grabbed victories first, was more than satiated.
Although the big wins for “Ted Lasso” and “The Crown” were expected, the night still offered plenty of surprises, including “Mare of Easttown’s” Julianne Nicholson, who won supporting actress in a limited series/anthology/TV movie over expected frontrunner Kathryn Hahn (“WandaVision”).
And there was also the supporting actor win for “The Crown’s” Tobias Menzies, although that came as another shock, given expectations that late “Lovecraft Country star Michael K. Williams would take the category.
“Michael was a talented actor and generous human being who has left us far too soon,” said Kerry Washington, as she introduced the category. “Your excellence, your artistry will endure.” Washington’s disappointment at the fact that Williams didn’t win the category was evident — as was the surprise among those who cover the Emmy race for a living.
McGregor’s win for limited or anthology series actor, via “Halston,” was also quite a shocker, with “WandaVision’s” Paul Bettany expected to be the frontrunner in lead actor in a limited series, followed by “The Undoing’s” Hugh Grant” and the “Hamilton” duo of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr.
In the nice surprise arena, Coel’s win for writing in a limited or anthology series or movie was hailed as a breakthrough, especially in a field that had mostly been dominated by “Queen’s Gambit” and “Mare of Easttown” throughout the evening.
Limited/anthology was actually the most unpredictable category of the evening, given how unpredictable the night was. Winslet’s win for lead actress was probably the most expected, over Coel, Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”), Cynthia Erivo (“Genius: Aretha”) and Elizabeth Olsen (“WandaVision”).
And winning the outstanding variety special (live) Emmy was Showtime’s “Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand Building Back America Great Again Better 2020,” a bit of a surprise in that field.
“I’d like to thank ‘Ted Lasso’ and ‘Last Week Tonight’ for not being in this category,” Colbert said.
Disney Plus’ filmed version of the Broadway hit “Hamilton” landed the variety special (pre-taped) field over “Bo Burnham: Inside,” “David Byrne’s American Utopia,” “8:46 — Dave Chappelle,” “Friends: The Reunion” and “A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote.”
In more predictable news, “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” won its sixth straight Emmy for variety talk series, and the writing team from “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” won its sixth consecutive award for outstanding writing for a variety series. Yes, “Last Week Tonight” has dominated both categories since 2016. Even Oliver seemed a bit embarrassed that many in the room had expected Conan O’Brien to win for his final season in late night.
Oliver also took the moment to recognize last week’s passing of comedian Norm Macdonald.
And speaking of predictability, “Saturday Night Live” won the outstanding variety sketch series award for the fifth consecutive year. It beat out HBO’s critically acclaimed series “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” from the mind of creator Robin Thede.
“A Black Lady Sketch Show” and “Saturday Night Live” were the only two shows nominated in the category this year — a function of the fact that just nine sketch programs were submitted this year. That meant the race came down to a 50/50 shot for either show.
Making history was “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which earned its fourth consecutive Emmy in the competition program category — RuPaul Charles’ 11th win overall, making him the most awarded person of color in Emmy history.
“Thanks to all of our lovely children on our show from around the world,” he said. “They are so gracious to tell their stories of courage and how to navigate this difficult life — even more difficult today. This is for you. And for you kids out there watching, you have a tribe that is waiting for you. We are waiting for you, baby. Come on to Mama Ru.”
The Emmy producers had promised a telecast with some unconventional beats, and that included saving host Cedric the Entertainer’s monologue for the show’s second act, after giving out the supporting comedy actor and actress awards, and ending the ceremony with limited series, rather than the usual choice of best comedy or drama.
Held inside a tent on the L.A. Live Events Deck in downtown Los Angeles, the event was capped at just around 500 attendees, all nominees and their plus ones. That added to the loose festivities (which included an especially loose Conan O’Brien showing up in all sorts of ways, including jumping on stage with Colbert and crew when their special won).
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