Here are 14 things to know from the more than three-hour-long ceremony, from all the big winners to the worst acceptance speech of the night.
‘Ted Lasso’ is the new ‘Schitt’s Creek’
Sitcom “Schitt’s Creek” swept the Emmy comedy categories last year, and while “Ted Lasso” didn’t quite do the same, the Apple TV Plus series still won four trophies, including comedy series, lead actor in a comedy series (Jason Sudeikis), supporting actor in a comedy series (Brett Goldstein) and supporting actress in a comedy series (Hannah Waddingham). Because all three actors were first-time Emmy winners and nominees, they were filled with the kind of genuine excitement you might see on . . . well, “Ted Lasso,” the story of an underdog English soccer team and an American coach who loves being super optimistic.
“Ahhhh!” Waddingham screamed when she arrived onstage. “I’m not responsible for anything that falls out of my face in the next 20 seconds.”
Emmy voters still really, really like ‘The Crown’
Speaking of award sweeps, it’s official: Emmy voters are obsessed with “The Crown” and everyone in it. The royal Netflix epic picked up its first best drama series trophy (Netflix’s first win in that category, too) for its Princess Diana-centric fourth season, along with acting prizes for Olivia Colman (Queen Elizabeth II), Gillian Anderson (Margaret Thatcher), Tobias Menzies (Prince Philip) and Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles). The cast was at a satellite location in London and appeared to be having a great time.
Michaela Coel got her well-deserved award
Earlier this year, the Golden Globes completely ignored Coel’s searing drama about the aftermath of a writer’s rape. Many were furious, to the point where a writer for Netflix’s “Emily in Paris,” which did get nominated, wrote a Guardian editorial about how she couldn’t enjoy her nomination as much given Coel’s snub. But on Sunday, Coel got her moment, winning the trophy for writing for a limited series or movie for HBO’s “I May Destroy You.”
She also won raves on social media for her stirring speech. “Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that is uncomfortable. I dare you,” she said. “In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us determine how we feel about ourselves, and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear, from it, from us, for a while and see what comes to you in the silence. . . . I dedicate this story to every single survivor of sexual assault.”
The show paid tribute to Biz Markie
The legendary rapper died in July, and it’s safe to say no one expected the Emmy Awards to open with a rollicking parody of “Just a Friend,” with host Cedric the Entertainer, LL Cool J, Lil Dicky and Rita Wilson — yes, that Rita Wilson — rapping verses and a gaggle of celebrities singing along. As Rogen said right after, “What’s happening? That was wild! That was truly insane!” In an entertaining way? You decide:
Cedric the Entertainer made the jokes you might expect in his monologue
How long did it take someone to bring up Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend and his, uh, medical problems? If you had 18 minutes, you won the pool. During a brief monologue after the Markie tribute, the comedian and star of CBS sitcom “The Neighborhood” mentioned the world’s most famous cousin’s friend and used it to riff on the coronavirus vaccines: He declared Pfizer-BioNTech (which he received) is “bougie” and the Neiman Marcus of vaccinations, while Moderna is like Macy’s and Johnson & Johnson is like T.J. Maxx.
Later, Cedric led a pretaped bit that involved a group of bitter Emmy losers complaining that they had never won a statue, including Scott Bakula, Jason Alexander, Alyson Hannigan, Zooey Deschanel and Fred Savage. Eventually Dr. Phil (another CBS star, of course) came in to comfort them and then bragged he has two Emmys, although Alexander clarified that they’re Daytime Emmys, so they’re only spelled with one “m.”
Jean Smart got a standing ovation for her ‘Hacks’ win
For a while, it looked like “Ted Lasso” might truly win everything, but then came “Hacks.” The critically adored HBO comedy, starring Smart as a veteran comedian who teams up with a young comedy writer, picked up wins for writing and directing in a comedy series. When Smart was announced as the winner for lead actress in a comedy series, it led to the first standing ovation of the night.
“Before I say anything, I have to acknowledge my late husband, Richard Gilliland, who passed away six months yesterday,” Smart said. “I would not be here without him, and without his kind of putting his career on the back burner so that I could take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities that I have had.”
‘Mare of Easttown’ won big
For a few weeks this spring, it seemed that all anyone could talk about was HBO’s “Mare of Easttown,” Kate Winslet, and Kate Winslet’s accent on “Mare of Easttown.” So it was no surprise that Julianne Nicholson, Evan Peters and Winslet all landed trophies for their roles on the limited series.
In her speech, Winslet acknowledged that the show had a “cultural moment,” giving viewers a distraction amid the pandemic, and also thanked showrunner Brad Ingelsby. “This is all you. You created a middle-aged, imperfect, flawed mother, and you made us all feel validated, quite honestly.”
Norm Macdonald got a couple shout-outs
After the stunning and sudden loss of the comedian last week at age 61, HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver used some of his time onstage (he won for variety talk series, as well as writing for a variety series) to note that “in late-night comedy, no one is funnier than Norm Macdonald.” He advised viewers to spend some time this week re-watching clips of Macdonald on his friend Conan O’Brien’s talk show.
Later, when NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” won outstanding variety series, executive producer Lorne Michaels also gave a very brief shout-out to Macdonald, a former cast member and “Weekend Update” alum, as “one of the best we ever had.”
Kerry Washington paid tribute to Michael K. Williams
Fans were also shocked when Williams died two weeks ago at age 54. Presenter Kerry Washington paid tribute to the actor before the outstanding supporting actor in a drama series category was announced. (Williams was nominated for his role in HBO’s recently canceled horror drama “Lovecraft Country”; he lost to Tobias Menzies from “The Crown.”)
“I’d like to take a moment to mention one nominee in particular, Michael K. Williams,” Washington said. “Michael was — so crazy to say ‘was’ — a brilliantly talented actor and a generous human being who has left us far too soon. Michael, your excellence and artistry will endure. We love you. I know you are here, because you wouldn’t miss it.”
There was a gap in the diversity of nominees vs. the diversity of winners
In one historic moment, RuPaul won his 11th Emmy for outstanding competition for VH1′s “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” making him the Black artist with the most wins in Emmys history.
“Thanks to all of our lovely children on our show from around the world. 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,” RuPaul said. “And for you kids out there watching. You have a tribe that is waiting for you, baby.”
However, though the list of nominees was far more diverse than usual — with a record number of non-White nominees — very few people of color actually won any awards, and none of the major acting prizes, which did not go unnoticed on social media.
Debbie Allen made a powerful speech
The beloved actress and dancer/choreographer followed up a recent Kennedy Center Honors with the Governor’s Award for her decades of work. “It’s taken a lot of courage to be the only woman in the room most of the time,” she said as the crowd cheered. “A lot of courage and creativity and fight and faith to believe that I could keep going. And I have. And I brought a whole lot of people with me. So I want to say, thank you for this glorious moment in the sun.”
‘The Queen’s Gambit’ winners gave very odd speeches
Netflix’s drama about a chess prodigy (played by nominee Anya Taylor-Joy) won for limited series or anthology series in a bit of a mild upset, given it was up against the powerhouse “Mare of Easttown.” Executive producer William Horberg raised eyebrows on social media when he said, in the same sentence, that Taylor “brought the sexy back to chess, and you inspired a whole generation of girls and young women to realize that patriarchy simply has no defense against our queen.” It was quite the combination of thoughts, though the bringing “sexy back to chess” line is an inside joke from the show.
But the much worse speech arrived earlier. Scott Frank walked onstage with two pieces of paper after he won for directing in a limited series or movie, and then made himself at home. “Seriously, stop the music,” he said as the band started to politely play him off — the first of three times. But he just. kept. talking, flat-out refusing to leave the stage until he was done. Lots of people had plenty to say about that move on Twitter, particularly since he appeared after Allen who also jokingly waved off the walk-off music but was being recognized for decades of work.
Conan O’Brien had a moment
It’s been awhile since the late-night talk show host was nominated, but O’Brien landed a nod for variety talk series for the farewell season of TBS’s “Conan.” He really made the most of his time there, first visibly glowering when he lost to “Last Week Tonight,” then momentarily calmed when the show’s writers let him borrow the trophy they just won. He later happily crashed Stephen Colbert’s team’s victory onstage for live variety special for “Celebrating America — An Inauguration Night Special.” (Colbert confirmed afterward it was a planned bit.)
But the strangest moment was probably when Frank Scherma, chief executive of the Television Academy, arrived to give the annual Emmy executive speech — and O’Brien decided to give him a cheering standing ovation for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
There was one especially big shutout
Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” earned 21 nominations — and zero wins. Variety reported that is now an unfortunate Emmys record of losses, even worse than in 2012 when “Mad Men” went 0 for 17. Poor Elisabeth Moss.