Amy Sussman / WireImage
If you predicted that creator-actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge would be a big winner entering Sunday night's Emmy Awards, you might just win your Emmys pool. And if you predicted a gigantic final haul of Game of Thrones trophies that that show leaves us for good, you were … well, kind of right.
These Emmys started out as many do, with a slack opening number that – now that "doesn't have a host" is the new "to have a host" – walked from Homer Simpson to Anthony Anderson to Bryan Cranston, who offered a hearty greeting to TV and the moon landing and then to TV's general goodness these days. Not to complain, but … we could always go back to having a good host .
Comedy was first up. Ben Stiller made a wax figure with Bob Newhart, who was obviously not a wax figure. And frankly, it was quite fun for an award-show piece! They presented the stacked category of supporting actors in a comedy series: The nominees were Tony Shalhoub for The Marvelous Mrs Maisel Henry Winkler and Stephen Root and Anthony Carrigan for Barry Alan Arkin for Kominsky method and Tony Hale for Veep . Shalhoub won, but it is a leading group. Amy Poehler and Catherine O & # 39; Hara, an impressive duo, actually presented the supporting actress in a comedy series award to Alex Borstein, also from Maisel despite another stacked category. For a moment, it began to look like another 2018, when Maisel won eight awards, including outstanding comedy series.
But just as that suspicion began to set in, they gave the comedy series the write-up to Waller-Bridge for Fleabag which ended its two-season story this year with an almost perfect second set of episodes. (Amazon Prime, if you still haven't seen it!) The director's award went to Harry Bradbeer, also for Fleabag which meant that Amazon had won the first four awards of the night.
HBO quarreled back when Bill Hader won the lead actor for Barry his series where he plays a hit man. Can HBO keep it up? They couldn't, because when Hader was back we went back to Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Sometimes more recognized as a writer than an artist (she also created Killing Eve ), Waller-Bridge turned actresses such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the legendary Catherine O & # 39; Hara and fantastic performances in new series by Christina Applegate and Natasha Lyonne – not to mention Rachel Brosnahan, who won last year for Maisel . It never seemed certain that the academy would embrace something as idiosyncratic as Fleabag ; what a joy to see that they did.
A Moment For Reality
While most of the reality awards were sent out to the Creative Arts ceremony that took place a week ago, the reality competition show was stopped to represent the entire genre, and this year went to RuPaul & # 39; s Drag Race . RuPaul got up on stage and told everyone to go and register to vote, the first time we heard a (very mild) nod to current events.
Before the limited comics and movie awards started, there was a very special moment of … gratitude? … for the existence of HBO's Game of Thrones during which the cast came on stage and recited lines about what a fantastic time they had. Had there been a whole lot of tributes to completed programs, it might have seemed a more graceful element to the broadcast. But stopping the whole show to say hello Game of Thrones – a show that is still in competition at these very prizes! – felt, in the absence of a better word, strange. After all, how a show usually gains a bit of attention by winning awards, and many, many wonderful shows have never been acknowledged at all. Game of Thrones received a great honor at Emmys and its end was extensively covered in the press and received a high rating. Why does it need a special moment of appreciation? How do we decide who gets this little tribute? Why not a special tribute to shows like Jane the Virgin who were never Emmy favorites?
Limited Series / Movie Awards
When we finally came to issue more award, Patricia Arquette won for supporting the actress in a limited series for Hulus The Act based on the true story of a mother and daughter. Arquette devoted most of her speech to the pain of losing her sister Alexis and to a moving conversation to treat transgender people better.
In further news with limited series, Johan Renck won to direct Chernobyl for HBO, Ben Whishaw won supporting actor for Amazon's A Very English Scandal (including three actors from Ava DuVernay's When They See Us on Netflix; they may have suffered some vote splitting), and Craig Mazin won to write the highly regarded Chernobyl . Next up was the moment for When They See Us however, when Jharrel Jerome won best lead actor in a limited series to play Korey Wise, one of the five men who eventually disappeared after spending years in prison for a attack in Central Park. Jerome, the only actor in the play who played his character both as a teenager at the arrest and as an adult at his reconciliation, got one of the evening's most excited reactions.
The award for best TV movie, a category that does not get nearly the heat it used to go, went to Bandersnatch Netflix's weird, uneven experiments in interactive storytelling. Among other nominees, the movie that hit HBO's Deadwood struck years after it originally ended – perhaps a fitting legacy for a show that was denied big awards for its entire run.
Before wrapping up limited comics / movie awards, there was a Veep tribute similar to Game of Thrones tribute, and … yes, once again there have been many opportunities to greet this show, including a string of Emmys for star Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The cast, obviously funny, did more with the stage than Game of Thrones the role did, but … the way you recognize shows at an awards show is with awards. If you do not have enough, move some prices back from Creative Arts. Or just make the show shorter. No one will care. You have to believe me.
The lead actress in a limited series or film was Michelle Williams for her indelible work as Gwen Verdon in FX's Fosse / Verdon . Williams, who gave that series most of her finest moments, gave a moving speech in which she told the story of having received support in the things she asked for – more dance lessons, a better wig, better false teeth – and having been paid equally . She called for the particularly low pay that goes to women of color, and said that valuing people leads them to put that value back into their work.
Limited Edition Emmy went to Chernobyl and there is a good argument that that award, while in the middle of the show rather than the end, is as prestigious as any other. Limited series is home to many of the most interesting works that happen at a particular time.
When you think about it, "Variety" is an inappropriate name for the category category. You know how to tell? The award for various screenwriting went to the authors of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver who has won and won, and the award for outstanding sketch series went to the young upstart known as Saturday Night Live who also got directing the award. Not to remove anything from these winners who have already won a billion awards, but if you have not yet seen Documentary Now! nominated in the sketch category and did not win, I encourage you to track it immediately. It was fun, we have to admit, to see Billy Porter, dressed in perhaps the best hat of the year, present the award for best sort talk to Last Week Tonight With John Oliver even if it was for the fourth straight time.
For some reason, different kinds of winners tend to win for 11 consecutive years or what have you, or they never win at all. Variety, really.
Drama Series Awards
And then it was time for some drama.
Viola Davis came out in some really good sneakers (comfort is important!) To hand out the award to support actors in a drama series. Surprisingly went to Peter Dinklage, who won for the fourth time for Game of Thrones .
In recent news, Jesse Armstrong won for drama series writing, for HBO's exceptional Succession which seems destined to one day win for drama series, although it would not be this year. The supporting actress Emmy got another actor from a slightly lower profile: Julia Garner for Ozark a Netflix drama that has a solid awards profile and has an enthusiastic following but more modest critical attention. Ozark also won Jason Bateman, its star, an Emmy for directing. (Raise your hand if you called it back when he was on Silver Spoons .)
Some awards just seem to be good news around, and the next one to be handed out fit that bill: the main actor award in a drama series went to the wonderful Billy Porter for Pose and if you don't feel good about anything else that happened at this ceremony, how could you not feel good about it? And then Billy Porter was followed by a win for Jodie Comer, who plays the evil Villanelle on Killing Eve ; she won for the lead actress in a drama series. So there are two winning roles – on Killing Eve and Fleabag – developed by the same creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
It wasn't over yet.
Fleabag 's night – and its Emmy run – ended with a comedy series win for this unusual, beautiful, very funny show that probably couldn't have existed in this way even for 10 years ago. This was the part of the evening where things felt surprising.
Best drama series went to Game of Thrones – which, it turns out, did not need to receive a tribute in the middle of the broadcast as if it was an adorable hero dog that saved someone from drowning, on top of winning the top award of all … again. This was the part where things felt surprising.
This is Emmys, in a nutshell: You win some – or the people whose work you like win some – and you lose some. But if you grew up watching this show, does your nose turn to almost anything that felt new or fresh or experimental, does Billy Porter and Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Jodie Comer and Bill Hader see Emmys win for those roles? It's not bad.