It’s finally here: The 70th annual Emmy awards, in which a massively popular, abundantly nominated show (Game of Thrones) that hasn’t aired since August 2017 (?!) competes for glory against shows that actually aired this year, because the Emmys’ eligibility window is ... interesting. Honestly, the same can be said for the awards show itself. Below are the biggest winners and losers from Monday night’s ceremony.
It wasn’t long ago that we were publicly decrying the sad state of Amazon’s television arm. But with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel leading the charge—with wins for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series—Amazon has finally garnered Emmys prestige. (It also got some free publicity for its new show Forever, thanks to a recurring in-show bit starring Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph.)
Amazon is looking to beef up its big-budget game with a Lord of the Rings series, and it also picked up Syfy’s The Expanse for a fourth season, but Maisel’s success indicates the company can still successfully pull off the smaller, more artful stuff. Plus, after Netflix and Hulu racked up trophies in the past few years, it’s gotta feel nice for Amazon to get on the board in a big way.
The Emmys opened with cohosts Colin Jost and Michael Ch—just kidding, for some reason the show kicked off with a couple other cast members from Saturday Night Live, Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson. For a brief moment, I genuinely thought NBC pulled a fast one and switched out Jost and Che for a pair that, honestly, would probably fare better. (Kate McKinnon could make dry paint funny.)
The skit itself—which saw the duo joined by the likes of Sterling K. Brown, Kristen Bell, Andy Samberg, and RuPaul—joked about how Hollywood’s “diversity” issue has been solved because of incremental progress. It was a rather tepid, surprisingly low-budget-seeming bit that, while making a gag out of Hollywood’s rush to pat itself on the back, mostly only called more attention to just how incremental the industry’s progress has been. It was … just fine.
Order was restored following the musical number, as the actual hosts of the night took the stage. Jost and Che didn’t do much with their opening monologue, scraping the bottom of the barrel with boilerplate #MeToo jokes and throwbacks to ER and Cheers (seriously!). Michael Che did call The Handmaid’s Tale “Roots for white women,” but that was about it. By the end, I couldn’t help but wonder what a McKinnon and Thompson–hosted ceremony would’ve actually been like.
For the rest of the night, the Emmys—and by “the Emmys” I mean the show’s executive producer, Lorne Michaels—seemed to lean on a bunch of other SNL-adjacent stars for comedy: Aidy Bryant did a bit with Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk, while Rudolph and Armisen briefly charmed while reluctantly relaying Emmys facts to the hosts. All in all, it was … just fine.
Winner: The Reparation Emmys Skit
This one was good, though.
Winner: Henry Winkler
Despite getting nominated three times as the Fonz on Happy Days and working as a lovable comic actor for over 40 years, Winkler had never won an Emmy—until Monday night. And it’s not like the Emmys are just handing him a lifetime achievement award; as acting teacher Gene Cousineau on HBO’s Barry, Winkler was deeply affecting as a guy whose life is almost as depressing as the show’s eponymous hitman. I’m so happy for him—I hope he goes on another fishing trip to celebrate.
Her name is Stacey!!!!xxxxoooo pic.twitter.com/nGHk0T2u9e— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) June 30, 2018
Winner: Teddy Perkins
This is astonishing (and terrifying) commitment to a bit.
Unfortunately, after Donald Glover won two Emmys for the inaugural season of Atlanta, the surreal series was shut out on the Emmys’ main stage. Perhaps the second season was just a bit too weird for the Emmys voters—Teddy Perkins is nothing if not odd and terrifying—and oftentimes leaned far more toward the dramatic and macabre than the slapstick, sans Paper Boi’s ridiculous trip to get a haircut.
While the series still went home with Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour) as well as a Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Katt Williams, losing out on the prime categories is a bummer. If it’s any consolation, the comedy categories were stacked this year—NBC’s The Good Place couldn’t even earn a nomination for Best Comedy Series—and you’d be hard-pressed to find much wrong with Barry or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Glenn Weiss, the Emmy-winning director behind the 2018 Oscars telecast (yes, that was eligible in a category called Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special and it competed against the Super Bowl), shook everyone at the Emmys awake by proposing to his girlfriend midspeech! He was all like, “I don’t wanna call you my girlfriend, because I WANNA CALL YOU MY WIFE!” (Emphasis mine.) All other boyfriends are officially on notice!
Some people just go to a fancy dinner and get on one knee—my guy won an Emmy and decided to shoot his shot. It was so beautiful it made Claire Foy cry. Speaking of ...
Winner: Foy Season
What a great evening for Foy. During the ceremony, she won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her final season on The Crown (Olivia Colman is taking the reins for the next two seasons) in a ridiculously stacked category that also included Elisabeth Moss, Keri Russell, and Sandra Oh. Then during the commercial breaks, trailers for First Man and The Girl in the Spider’s Web played on what seemed like an endless loop. All told, Claire Foy was arguably on screen more than anyone else Monday night.
If it wasn’t already clear—it’s Foy season, baby!
The streamer made a splash last season by beating Netflix to the punch and winning an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series, but this year, Hulu failed to win in any of the major categories, while Amazon and Netflix cleaned up. All of their Emmys hopes in the biggest races rested on The Handmaid’s Tale and … this year the show didn’t come through. This doesn’t mean Hulu needs to hit the panic button, but it is a sign that its roster needs to be expanded—especially because their competitors are showing no signs of slowing down.
The good news is their Sean Penn space show is … shockingly good?
Winner: The Americans (But Really, the Critics)
The Americans seemed destined to be one of those shows that was never properly acknowledged by the Emmys (hello, The Wire!), which is one of the sad yet understandable outcomes of minuscule ratings. But then the FX drama captured Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series—I jumped off my couch, and presumably so did [checks notes] the other TV critics who watched the show. Showrunners Joel Fields and Joseph Weisberg literally went out of their way to thank the critics in their speech for “keeping the show on the air.”
But that’s not all! Then Matthew Rhys won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, which he deserved off the parking garage scene alone. Unfortunately, Rhys’s win was somewhat bittersweet because his on-and-off-screen partner, Keri Russell, lost Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series to Claire Foy. Still, for some reason that felt right.
Keri Russell never getting an Emmy for The Americans is like when Elizabeth had to keep killing people while Philip went line dancing and fucking up at the travel agency— Stu from internet (@RandBallsStu) September 18, 2018
Hulu’s failures notwithstanding, the 2018 Emmys were all about distribution—no one show or network dominated. The likes of Netflix (Godless, The Crown), HBO (Game of Thrones), FX (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story getting what it deserves!), and Amazon (the aforementioned Maisel) all took home awards in important categories. And you know what? It was great.
There were awards for seemingly everyone (except, inexplicably, Atlanta), whether you were gunning for the blockbuster action of Game of Thrones, or The Americans finally getting some Emmys love, or Bill Hader being recognized for his great work in Barry. This year’s Emmys were far from perfect—we could’ve definitely used a little less SNL—but the even distribution of the awards was genuinely thrilling and interesting to watch. And most of all, it felt representative of the year in television. What better way to demonstrate that right now, there’s just a lot of good TV out there?
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.