San Francisco Chronicle
Streaming services clean up at Emmys
Netflix wins series honors for ‘Gambit,’ ‘Crown’; Apple TV+ honored for ‘Lasso’
Netflix's “The Crown” and “The Queen's Gambit” combined with Apple TV+'s “Ted Lasso” to win top series honors at this year's Emmy Awards, a first for streaming services that cemented their rise to prominence in the television industry.
“I'm at a loss for words,” said Peter Morgan, creator and writer of the British royal saga “The Crown,” which collected acting, writing and directing awards in addition to four acting honors on Sunday, Sept. 19.
His comment may also apply to the premium cable channels that once dominated the Emmy Awards and to the broadcast networks — including Sunday's host, CBS — that have long grown accustomed to being largely also-rans.
The ceremony also proved disappointing to those scrutinizing diversity in Hollywood. The record number of nominees of color yielded only two Black winners, including RuPaul for “RuPaul's Drag Race” and Michaela Coel for “I May Destroy You.”
Those wins, however, did make Coel the first Black woman to win for writing in a limited series, while the win for VH1's “RuPaul's Drag Race” as the top competition program, marked RuPaul's 11th career win making the show's executive producer and host the most-awarded Black artist in Emmys history.
“The Crown” stars Olivia Colman and Josh O'Connor won the top drama acting honors, with Jason Sudeikis, star of the warm-hearted “Ted Lasso,” and Jean Smart of the generation-gap story “Hacks,” winners on the comedy side.
“I'd have put money on that not happening,” Colman said, 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.”
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 U.K. soccer 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 castmates, saying, “I'm only as good as you guys make me look.”
Smart, who received a standing ovation, began her acceptance speech on a somber 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” castmate 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 for his role as the foulmouthed Roy Kent, 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 honored for their supporting performances. The series also picked up writing and directing honors.
Before announcing the winner in his category, presenter Kerry Washington saluted another nominee, Michael K. Williams of “Lovecraft County.” Williams died Sept. 6 at age 54.
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 latenight comedy,” Oliver said in accepting the Emmy for best variety talk show, suggesting people spend time checking out clips of Macdonald, as he did after Macdonald died Sept. 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 honored as top actors for a limited series.
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 late Biz Markie's hip-hop hit “Just a Friend” with lyrics like “TV, you got what I need.” LL Cool J bounded from the audience as stars like 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. “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.
Roughly 500 people attended the Emmys in downtown Los Angeles, with the producers' ultimate goal to create an upbeat event that acknowledged how much TV's importance grew during the pandemic. Compared to last year's virtual event, it at least hit that mark.