Netflix’s The Crown and The Queen’s Gambit, plus Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso, won top series honours at Sunday’s Primetime Emmy Awards, a first for streaming services, cementing their rise to prominence in the television industry.
“I’m at a loss for words,” said Peter Morgan, the creator and writer of the British royal saga The Crown, which collected acting, writing and directing awards in addition to four acting honours.
But the ceremony proved disappointing to those scrutinising diversity in Hollywood. The record number of nominees of colour yielded only two black winners, including RuPaul for RuPaul’s Drag Race and Michaela Coel for I May Destroy You.
The Crown stars Olivia Colman and Josh O’Connor won the top drama acting honours, with Jason Sudeikis, star of the warm-hearted Ted Lasso, and Jean Smart of the generation-gap story Hacks, winners on the comedy side.
Colman and O’Connor were a winning fictional mother-son duo: she plays Queen Elizabeth II, with O’Connor as Prince Charles in the British royal family saga that combines gravitas and soap opera.
“I’d have put money on that not happening,” Colman said of the award, calling it “a lovely end to the most extraordinary journey” with the show’s cast and creators. She cut her remarks short, explaining why she was growing tearful.
“I lost my daddy during Covid, and he would have loved all of this,” she said.
O’Connor described Emma Corrin, who played opposite him as Princess Diana and was also a nominee on Sunday, as a “force of nature”.
He also offered thanks to his grandparents, including his grandmother who died a few months ago, and his grandfather Peter O’Connor for the “greatest gifts” of kindness and loyalty.
Sudeikis, who also produces the series that many viewers found a balm for tough pandemic times, gave a speech that evoked the chipper, upbeat character he plays in the series about a UK football team and its unlikely American coach.
“This show’s about families and mentors and teammates, and I wouldn’t be here without those things in my life,” said Sudeikis. He also thanked his fellow cast mates, saying: “I’m only as good as you guys make me look.”
Smart, who received a standing ovation, began her acceptance speech on a sombre note: her husband actor, Richard Gilliland, died six months ago.
“I would not be here without him” and his willingness to put her career first, said Smart. She also praised their two children as “courageous individuals in their own right”.
Earlier in the evening, ebullient Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham, winner of the Best Supporting Actress Award for a Comedy, said Sudeikis “changed my life with this, and more importantly my baby girl’s”.
The show’s Brett Goldstein, who won the counterpart award for supporting actor, said he had promised not to swear and either mimed or was muted for a few seconds, then called the show the “privilege and pleasure” of his life.
Gillian Anderson and Tobias Menzies of British royal drama The Crown were honoured for their supporting performances.
Anderson, who played British political leader Margaret Thatcher, used her acceptance speech to thank her manager of 20 years for her mentorship and believing in her talent before she did.
Menzies, who plays Prince Philip, didn’t attend the ceremony, which included a London gathering for The Crown nominees.
Before announcing the winner in his category, presenter Kerry Washington saluted another nominee, Michael K Williams of Lovecraft County. Williams died on September 6 aged 54.
“Michael was a brilliantly talented actor and a generous human being who has left us far too soon,” Washington said.
Another lost star was remembered by John Oliver of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
“No one was funnier in the last 20 years than Norm Macdonald on late-night comedy,” Oliver said while accepting the Emmy for Best Variety Talk Show, suggesting people spend time checking out clips of Macdonald, as he did after the beloved Saturday Night Live star died on September 14 at age 61.
Kate Winslet, who played the title character in Mare of Easttown, and Ewan McGregor, who starred in the fashion biopic Halston, were honoured as top actors for a limited series.
Winslet saluted her sister nominees in “this decade that has to be about women having each other’s back”.
Julianne Nicholson and Evan Peters claimed best supporting acting honours for Mare of Easttown, about crime and family dysfunction.
“The script was true to the horror and beauty of ordinary people’s lives,” particularly the lives of women, said Nicholson.
Both she and Peters saluted star Winslet.
“Man, you’re good at acting. But turns out you’re good at caring for a whole production,” Nicholson said.
Debbie Allen received the Governors Award for a long and acclaimed career as an actor, dancer, choreographer and activist.
“I am trembling with gratitude and grace and trying not to cry … it’s been many years in the making, taken a lot of courage to be the only woman in the room most of the time. Courage and creative and fight and faith to believe I could keep going, and I have,” she said.
The show opened with a musical number that featured host Cedric the Entertainer rapping a modified version of the Biz Markie hip-hop hit Just a Friend with lyrics such as “TV, you got what I need”. LL Cool J bounded from the audience as stars Rita Wilson, Mandy Moore and more dropped verses celebrating the breadth of television.
Seth Rogen presented the first award, throwing some cold water on the celebratory vibe by noting that the Emmys were being held in a giant tent. “There’s way too many of us in this little room,” he exclaimed in an attempt at humour that fell flat.
“Why is there a roof? It’s more important that we have three chandeliers than make sure we don’t kill Eugene Levy tonight. That is what has been decided.”
Cedric the Entertainer worked hard and landed some laugh-getting jokes, but the night’s comedy bits were hit and miss — including Stephen Colbert’s jokes about California’s failed gubernatorial recall and Ken Jeong’s effort to get past security and into the show.
Roughly 500 people attended the Emmys in downtown Los Angeles, with fashion standout Billy Porter sporting large wings attached to the sleeves of his black trouser look by Lebanon's Ashi Studio and Sudeikis walked the red carpet in a Tom Ford velvet suit of soft blue.
The producers’ ultimate goal was an upbeat ceremony that acknowledged how much TV’s importance grew during the pandemic and its lockdowns.
List of key winners of the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards:
Outstanding Drama Series
WINNER: The Crown
The Handmaid's Tale
This Is Us
Outstanding Comedy Series
WINNER: Ted Lasso
Emily in Paris
The Flight Attendant
The Kominsky Method
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
WINNER: Josh O'Connor, The Crown
Rege-Jean Page, Bridgerton
Sterling K Brown, This Is Us
Billy Porter, Pose
Jonathan Majors, Lovecraft Country
Matthew Rhys, Perry Mason
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
WINNER: Olivia Colman, The Crown
Emma Corrin, The Crown
Uzo Aduba, In Treatment
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid's Tale
Jurnee Smollett, Lovecraft Country
MJ Rodriguez, Pose
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
WINNER: Tobias Menzies, The Crown
Michael K Williams, Lovecraft Country
Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid's Tale
Max Minghella, The Handmaid's Tale
OT Fagbenle, The Handmaid's Tale
John Lithgow, Perry Mason
Giancarlo Esposito, The Mandalorian
Chris Sullivan, This Is Us
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
WINNER: Gillian Anderson, The Crown
Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown
Emerald Fennell, The Crown
Ann Dowd, The Handmaid's Tale
Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid's Tale
Samira Wiley, The Handmaid's Tale
Madeline Brewer, The Handmaid's Tale
Aunjanue Ellis, Lovecraft Country
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
WINNER: Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
Anthony Anderson, black-ish
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
William H Macy, Shameless
Kenan Thompson, Kenan
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
WINNER: Jean Smart, Hacks
Aidy Bryant, Shrill
Allison Janney, Mom
Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant
Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
WINNER: Brett Goldstein, Ted Lasso
Bowen Yang, Saturday Night Live
Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live
Brendan Hunt, Ted Lasso
Nick Mohammed, Ted Lasso
Jeremy Swift, Ted Lasso
Paul Reiser, The Kominsky Method
Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Hacks
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
WINNER: Hannah Waddingham, Ted Lasso
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Cecily Strong, Saturday Night Live
Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live
Rosie Perez, The Flight Attendant
Hannah Einbinder, Hacks
Juno Temple, Ted Lasso
Outstanding Limited Series
WINNER: The Queen's Gambit
Mare of Easttown
I May Destroy You
The Underground Railroad
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
WINNER: Ewan McGregor, Halston
Paul Bettany, WandaVision
Hugh Grant, The Undoing
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Leslie Odom Jr, Hamilton
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
WINNER: Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown
Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You
Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen's Gambit
Elizabeth Olsen, WandaVision
Cynthia Erivo, Genius: Aretha
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
WINNER: Julianne Nicholson, Mare of Easttown
Jean Smart, Mare of Easttown
Kathryn Hahn, WandaVision
Phillipa Soo, Hamilton
Renee Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
Moses Ingram, The Queen's Gambit
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
WINNER: Evan Peters, Mare of Easttown
Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
Jonathan Groff, Hamilton
Anthony Ramos, Hamilton
Thomas Brodie-Sangster, The Queen's Gambit
Paapa Essiedu, I May Destroy You
Outstanding Variety Talk Series
WINNER: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
WINNER: Saturday Night Live
A Black Lady Sketch Show
Outstanding Competition Programme
WINNER: RuPaul's Drag Race
The Amazing Race
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Programme
WINNER: RuPaul, RuPaul's Drag Race
Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness, Queer Eye
Nicole Byer, Nailed It!
Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons, Top Chef
Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, and Kevin O'Leary, Shark Tank
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
WINNER: Hacks, written by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky
The Flight Attendant, written by Steve Yockey
Girls5eva, written by Meredith Scardino
PEN15, written by Maya Erskine
Ted Lasso, written by Joe Kelly, Brendan Hunt, and Jason Sudeikis
Ted Lasso (pilot episode), written by Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt, and Joe Kelly
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
WINNER: The Crown, written by Peter Morgan
The Boys, written by Rebecca Sonnenshine
The Handmaid's Tale, written by Yahlin Chang
Lovecraft Country, written by Misha Green
The Mandalorian (Chapter 13: The Jedi), written by Dave Filoni
The Mandalorian (Chapter 16: The Rescue), written by Jon Favreau
Pose, written by Steven Canals, Brad Falchuk, Our Lady J, Janet Mock, and Ryan Murphy
Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie
WINNER: I May Destroy You, written by Michaela Coel
Mare of Easttown, written by Brad Ingelsby
The Queen's Gambit, written by Scott Frank
WandaVision (All-New Halloween Spooktacular!), written by Chuck Hayward and Peter Cameron
WandaVision (Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience), written by Jac Schaeffer
WandaVision (Previously On), written by Laura Donney
Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series
WINNER: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
The Amber Ruffin Show
A Black Lady Sketch Show
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Saturday Night Live