Celebrating the breadth of television was achieved in style and colour at a slimmed down 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, as shows on streaming services reinforced their growing dominance in the COVID era.
Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer and moved to an outdoor tent in downtown Los Angeles on Monday (Australian time) because of concerns about the Delta variant, the Emmys – with The Crown‘s celebs at round tables in London – were a scaled-down affair with vaccinations, testing and masks mandatory.
Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit and The Crown won for best limited series and best drama series with Ted Lasso (Apple TV+ officially enters streaming’s big league) taking out best comedy series.
In a “one-two punch” for Netflix, the streaming giant walked away with an historic 44 Emmys, the most for any service or network since CBS in 1974.
According to deadline.com, Netflix lead a “COVID-streaming boom”, becoming “the first streamer to release originals and the largest player, with 209 million global subscribers … [who] has ever won a series category”.
The Crown won every award in the drama category – the first time that’s been done.
With the ceremony broadcast on CBS and streamed on Paramount+, the producers promised it would be upbeat and fun, giving a nod to how much TV’s importance has grown during the pandemic and its lockdowns.
It achieved just that.
With off-the-cuff acceptance speeches, an 500-strong audience of stars desperate to get out of their chairs and socialise, and a sprinkling of slightly “out there” comedy skits, the television academy’s (whose members choose the winners) night of nights was back in full swing.
“Television has always been a place where we can come together and share our most valuable resource,” chairman and chief executive Frank Scherma told his audience.
“We laugh, cry, learn and watch television as a family and as a community. And its so great to see that television and the stories that we tell are finally becoming a reflection of every part of our society.
“These stories touch all of us as part of our shared, human experience,” he said.
In the final category of the night, the closely contested limited series, The Queen’s Gambit won over Mare of Easttown, harrowing British rape drama I May Destroy You and innovative superhero dramedy WandaVision.
Olivia Colman and Josh O’Connor, who played the Queen and Prince Charles in The Crown, were named best drama actor and actress.
The drama series, which focused on the unhappy marriage of Charles and Princess Diana, brought wins for supporting actors Gillian Anderson (as former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher) and Tobias Menzies (the late Prince Philip), as well as for writing and directing in a drama series.
“We’re all thrilled. I am very proud. I’m very grateful. We’re going to party,” said Crown creator Peter Morgan.
Kiwi director Jessica Hobbs won in the outstanding directing for a drama series category.
Speaking on a video link from London, Hobbs thanked her cast and crew.
“Not a lot of women have won this award so I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of some really extraordinary people. I’m really grateful for the path that they led,” she said.
Jason Sudeikis, the star and co-creator of Ted Lasso, was named best comedy actor and Britons Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein won for their supporting roles as the club owner and ageing star player.
“This show is about family. This show’s about mentors and teachers and this show’s about teammates. And I wouldn’t be here without those three things in my life,” Sudeikis said on accepting the award.
Ted Lasso lost the comedy writing and directing awards to Hacks, which is about a fading stand-up female comedian played by Jean Smart. She got a standing ovation when she was named best comedy actress.
An exuberant Kate Winslet was named best actress in a limited series for her turn as a troubled detective in Mare of Easttown about a murder in a small Philadelphia town.
“It was a cultural moment – it gave people something to talk about other than the pandemic,” she says, thanking “my husband, Ned, who I get to hold hands with for the rest of my life. Yes! I am the winner!”.
In the closely contested limited series category, Julianne Nicholson and Evan Peters won for supporting roles as a housewife and detective.
Anya Taylor-Joy, who stars as orphan chess prodigy Beth Harmon, spoke in the press room after the awards.
The LA Times reported Taylor-Joy said the huge appeal of the show was “pretty spectacular”.
“Just the sheer range in the demographics of ages of people coming up and saying that they loved the show — from people in their 80s saying it was the first show they ever binge-watched to teenagers saying they were going to go play the hot guy at their school at chess,” she said.
Executive producer William Horberg said: “The one thing that no algorithm can predict, that no billion-dollar budget can manufacture, is word of mouth”.
“This award is for the fans who told their friends, and who became fans who told their friends, ‘Dude, you got to watch the orphan girl chess drama’.”
Addressing Taylor-Joy, Horberg added, “What can I say? You brought the sexy back to chess, and you inspired a whole generation of girls and young women to realise that patriarchy has no defence against our queens.”
All the winners
Best drama series:The Crown
Best comedy series:Ted Lasso
Best limited series:The Queen’s Gambit
Best comedy actor: Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
Best comedy actress: Jean Smart, Hacks
Best drama actress: Olivia Colman, The Crown
Best drama actor: Josh O’Connor, The Crown
Best supporting actress in a drama: Gillian Anderson, The Crown
Best supporting actor in a drama: Tobias Menzies, The Crown
Best supporting actor in a comedy: Brett Goldstein, Ted Lasso
Best supporting actress in a comedy: Hannah Waddingham, Ted Lasso
Best actress, limited series or movie: Kate Winslet, Mare of
Best actor, limited series or movie: Ewan McGregor, Halston
Best supporting actress, limited series or movie: Julianne Nicholson, Mare of Easttown
Best supporting actor, limited series or movie: Evan Peters, Mare of Easttown