“The White Lotus” was cleaned up when repeat winners mingled with honorees for the first time at the 74th Emmy Awards, but it was Sheryl Lee Ralph who woke the audience with her half-sung acceptance speech, in a night when HBO and Netflix set up for another in their now annual battles for supremacy in the realm of prestige TV.
Ralph became only the second black woman to win a supporting actress in a comedy for ABC’s “Abbott Elementary”, a victory that came 35 years after Jackee Harry broke through for “227”. The Broadway star sang part of her speech (thanking the executives in the script that passed at the bottom of the screen), causing the crowd – sleepy, until then – to jump to their feet.
There was, as usual, a fair amount of repetition and a lot of sad words. The first included the seventh consecutive award for “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” and another trophy for “Saturday Night Live”. Oliver’s HBO show owned that category, much like Jon Stewart did in his former home, “The Daily Show”.
Julia Garner also received her third Emmy for her supporting role as Ruth in the dark Netflix drama “Ozark”, while Brett Goldstein landed a rare consecutive win (thanks to being eligible in subsequent years) for “Ted. Lasso “of Apple TV +.
However, other first-time winners also made it through. Matthew Macfadyen won the Supporting Actor award for HBO’s “Succession”, this year’s most nominated show, alongside limited series stars Michael Keaton for “Dopesick” and Amanda Seyfried for another fact-based Hulu production. , “The Dropout”.
First-time nominees Murray Bartlett and Jennifer Coolidge were also honored for HBO’s “The White Lotus,” with the latter having to outrun four of her co-stars. Coolidge was cut short during the exuberant acceptance speech, after some recipients had talked about her music. Mike White also won both for writing and directing the series, which had already won five technical awards previously.
Amazon’s “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” also capped its three Emmys during this award season by winning for the competition program, sparking emotional acceptance from its host.
Netflix set a 47-year record (originally set by CBS) with a total of 44 Emmys last year through the Creative Arts Awards, devoted primarily to the technical categories and main telecast. This included winning the best drama categories with “The Crown,” which did not air during this year’s eligibility period.
HBO and HBO Max outperformed all platforms that participated in this year’s main telecast, with 26 awards, up from 23 for Netflix. Both were far ahead of their closest competitors, Disney + and Hulu, both owned by Disney, with nine and eight wins respectively. (Like CNN, HBO is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery.)
HBO was the most awarded network in 2019 and 2020, tying itself to Netflix the year before.
Presented by Kenan Thompson, the ceremony began with a tribute to the television themes and a standing ovation for Oprah Winfrey, who presented the first prize of the evening.
After the 2020 audience record with a virtual ceremony, the Emmy audience rebounded last year to around 7.4 million viewers, still low by historical standards, but a marked improvement over the previous two years.
Ratings for linear TV are generally down, and Emmys are believed to have been impacted by the nomination of fewer widely popular shows as streaming took control of the competition for awards.
Emmy’s TV rights rotate between the four major broadcast networks. This year’s show has shifted from its usual Sunday broadcast because it airs on NBC, which broadcasts “Sunday Night Football”.