Game of Thrones resurrected the Iron Throne at Sunday’s Emmy ceremony, ruling as top drama on a night of surprises in which Pose star Billy Porter made history and the comedy series Fleabag led a British invasion that overturned expectations.
“This all started in the demented mind of George R.R. Martin,” said Game of Thrones producer David Benioff, thanking the author whose novels were the basis of HBO’s fantasy saga.
Porter, who stars in the FX drama set in the LGBTQ ball scene of the late 20th century, became the first openly gay man to win a best drama series acting Emmy.
“God bless you all. The category is love, you all, love. I’m so overjoyed and so overwhelmed to have lived to see this day,” said an exuberant Porter, resplendent in a sparkling suit and swooping hat.
Amazon’s Fleabag, a dark comedy about a dysfunctional woman, was honoured as best comedy and earned top acting honours for its British creator and star, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and a best director trophy.
“This is getting a ridiculous,” Waller-Bridge said in her third trip to the stage to collect the top trophy.
Her acting win blocked Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus from setting a record as the most-honoured performer in Emmy history.
“Nooooo!” a shocked-looking Waller-Bridge said as Louis-Dreyfus smiled for the cameras. “Oh, my God, no. Thank you. I find acting really hard and really painful. But it’s all about this,” she said, her acting trophy firmly in hand.
In accepting the writing award earlier, she called the Emmy recognition proof that “a dirty, pervy, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys.”
Porter, a Tony and Grammy Award winning actor, relished his groundbreaking moment, quoting the late writer James Baldwin, Porter said it took him many years to believe he has the right to exist.
“I have the right, you have the right, we all have the right,” he said.
English actress Jodie Comer was honoured as best drama actress for Killing Eve. She competed with co-star Sandra Oh, who received a Golden Globe for her role and would have been the first actress of Asian descent to win an Emmy in the category.
“My mum and dad are in Liverpool (England) and I didn’t invite them because I didn’t think this was going to be my time. One, I’m sorry, two I love you,” Comer said after saluting Oh.
Bill Hader won his second consecutive best comedy actor award for the hitman comedy Barry.
Peter Dinklage, named best supporting actor for Game of Thrones, set a record for most wins for the same role, four, breaking a tie with Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad.
“I count myself so fortunate to be a member of a community that is about nothing but tolerance and diversity, because in no other place I could be standing on a stage like this,” said Dinklage, a little person.
Ozark star Julia Garner won the best supporting drama actress trophy against a field including four actresses from Game of Thrones.
The auditorium erupted in cheers when Jharrel Jerome of When They See Us, about the Central Park Five case, won the best actor award for a limited series movie.
“Most important, this is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five,” said Jerome, naming the five wrongly convicted men who were in the audience. They stood and saluted the actor as the crowd applauded them.
It was the only honour for the acclaimed Netflix series of the evening; Chernobyl won the best limited series honour.
Streaming hit new Emmy heights, powered by Amazon Prime winners Fleabag, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and a Very English Scandal, and Netflix’s Bandersnatch (Black Mirror), honoured as best movie. But HBO again showed its strength, including with the trophies for Chernobyl, Barry and John Oliver’s best variety-talk win.
Michelle Williams, honoured as best actress for her portrayal of dancer Gwen Verdon in FX’s limited series Fosse/Verdon, issued a call to arms for gender and ethnic equality.
She thanked the network and studio behind the project for “supporting me completely and paying me equally because they understood ... when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value. And where do they put that value, they put it into their work.”
“And so the next time a woman and, especially a woman of colour, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart, tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her,” Williams said.
Patricia Arquette won the trophy best supporting limited-series or movie actress for The Act. She paid emotional tribute to her late trans sister, Alexis Arquette, and called for an end to prejudice against trans people, including in the workplace.
Ben Whishaw took the category’s supporting actor trophy for A Very English Scandal, admitting in charming British fashion to a hangover.
Alex Borstein and Tony Shalhoub of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won best supporting acting awards at the ceremony, which included early and varied messages of female empowerment after the hostless ceremony.
“I want to dedicate this to the strength of a woman, to (series creator) Amy Sherman-Palladino, to every woman on the ‘Maisel’ cast and crew,” Borstein said, and to her mother and grandmother. Her grandmother survived because she was courageous enough to step out of a line that, Borstein intimated, would have led to her death at the hands of Nazi Germany.
“She stepped out of line. And for that, I am here and my children are here, so step out of line, ladies. Step out of line,” said Borstein, who won the award last year.
Shalhoub added to his three Emmys which he earned for his signature role in Monk.
The awards opened without a host as promised, with an early exchange pitting Ben Stiller against Bob Newhart.
“I’m still alive,” Newhart told Stiller, who introduced him as part of a wax museum comedy hall of fame that included Lucille Ball and George Burns.
Kim Kardashian West and Kendall Jenner drew some mocking laughter in the audience when they presented their award after Kardashian West said their family “knows firsthand how truly compelling television comes from real people just being themselves.”
An animated Homer made a brief appearance on stage until he was abruptly crushed, with Anderson of black-ish rushing in to, as he vowed, rescue the evening. He called Breaking Bad star Cranston on stage to tout the power of television from its beginning to the current golden age.
“Television has never been bigger. Television has never mattered more. And television has never been this damn good,” Cranston said.
Best Drama Series: Game of Thrones
Best Comedy Series: Fleabag
Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Writing, Comedy Series: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag
Actor, Comedy Series: Bill Hader, Barry
Actress, Comedy Series: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag
Reality-Competition Program: RuPaul’s Drag Race
Supporting Actress, Limited Series or Movie: Patricia Arquette, The Act
Supporting Actor, Limited Series or Movie: Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal
Writing, Limited Series: Craig Mazin, Chernobyl
Actor, Limited Series or Movie: Jharrel Jerome, When They See Us
Television Movie: Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Actress, Limited Series or Movie: Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon
Limited Series: Chernobyl
Writing, Variety Series: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Variety Sketch Series: Saturday Night Live
Variety Talk Series: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Julia Garner, Ozark
Actor, Drama Series: Billy Porter, Pose
Directing, Drama Series: Jason Bateman, Ozark
Actress, Drama Series: Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
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