The cast and crew of Game of Thrones. Photo: The Guardian
Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel became the first streaming series to win top Emmy comedy honors and HBO’s Game of Thrones recaptured the best drama series award at a ceremony that largely slighted its most ethnically diverse field of nominees ever.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon’s freshman sitcom about an unhappy 1950s homemaker liberated by stand-up comedy, earned best actress honors for star Rachel Brosnahan.
Her castmate Alex Borstein earned the supporting actress trophy and the series creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, nabbed writing and directing awards.
Claire Foy of The Crown and Matthew Rhys of The Americans won top drama acting Emmys, their first trophies for the roles and last chance to claim them, with Foy’s role as Queen Elizabeth II going to another actress and Rhys’ show wrapped.
The field bested by Foy included last year’s winner Elisabeth Moss for The Handmaid’s Tale and Sandra Oh of Killing Eve, who would have been the first actor of Asian descent to get a top drama award.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” said a startled Foy.
Game of Thrones, which sat out last year’s Emmys because of scheduling, won despite competition from defending champ The Handmaid’s Tale.
“Thank you for letting us take care of your people,” Game of Thrones producer D.B. Weiss said to George R.R. Martin, whose novels fuel the drama.
In a ceremony that started out congratulating TV academy voters for the most ethnically diverse field of nominees ever, the early awards all went to whites.
“Let’s get it trending: #EmmysSoWhite,” presenter James Corden joked at the midway point, riffing off an earlier tribute to Betty White.
“I want to say six awards, all white winners, and nobody has thanked Jesus yet,” co-host Michael Che said, referring back to his earlier joke that only African-American and Republican winners do.
Then Regina King broke the string, with a best actress trophy in a limited series or movie for Seven Seconds, which tracks the fallout from a white police officer’s traffic accident involving a black teenager.
She was followed by Darren Criss, who won the lead acting award for the miniseries The Assassination of Gianni Versace and who is of Filipino descent.
Thandie Newton won best supporting drama actress for Westworld, and Peter Dinklage added a third trophy to his collection for Game of Thrones.
Brosnahan used her acceptance speech to give a shout-out to her comedy’s celebration of women power.
“It’s about a woman who’s finding her voice anew, and it’s one of the things that’s happening all over the country now,” she said. She urged the audience to exercise that power by voting.
Bill Hader collected the best comedy actor award for Barry, a dark comedy about a hired killer who stumbles into a possible acting career.
Henry Winkler, aka The Fonz, won a supporting actor award — his first Emmy — for Barry, four decades after gaining fame for his role in Happy Days.
“If you stay at the table long enough, the chips come to you. Tonight, I got to clear the table,” an ebullient Winkler said, with an equally delighted auditorium audience rising to give him a standing ovation. To his grown children, he said: “You can go to bed now, daddy won!”
The biggest award so far won by a broadcast network was Saturday Night Live for best variety sketch series.
The Emmys had a real-life dramatic moment when winning director Glenn Weiss, noting his mother had died two weeks ago, proposed to his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen.
“You wonder why I don’t want to call you my girlfriend? It’s because I want to call you my wife,” Weiss said. She said yes, he put his mother’s ring on her finger and the crowd whooped and cheered.
John Oliver, in picking up the trophy for best variety talk show award for Last Week Tonight, thanked Weiss’ girlfriend for giving the right answer or, he joked, the whole ceremony could have gone south.
The Emmys kicked off with a song, “We Solved It,” a celebration to the diversity of nominees sung by stars including Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson. The tune included a mention that Oh could become the first woman of Asian descent to win an Emmy. “There were none, now there’s one, so we’re done,” the comedians sang.
Oh played along from her seat: “Thank you, but it’s an honor just to be Asian,” said the Korean-Canadian actress.