After Will Smith delivered one of the most shocking moments in the history of any award show earlier this year, the 74th Emmy Awards were going to have a lot to live up to. But for better or for worse, the Emmys stuck to the usual script, with bits led by affable host Kenan Thompson, acceptance speeches of varying degrees of quality, and, thankfully, nobody famous being slapped in the face. The ceremony took place at the Microsoft Theater for the first time since the start of the pandemic, just one marker that a genuine sense of normalcy has returned to the Emmys—even as some of the victors broke exciting new ground. (Hello, Squid Game!) Below, we break down the biggest winners and losers from Monday night’s festivities.
Winner: The Status Quo
While Succession and Ted Lasso were considered the front-runners to win Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Comedy Series, it seemed like both shows would face sterner competition from exciting newcomers. In the comedy corner, Ted Lasso had to go up against fellow feel-good sitcom Abbott Elementary and a dark horse in Hacks, while Succession squared off against the history-making Squid Game. But while Abbott Elementary and Squid Game both went home with multiple wins, neither series was able to play spoiler for the biggest award of their respective categories.
For a comedy about an underdog soccer team, Ted Lasso has to get acclimated to its new position as an Emmys powerhouse—at least until the series reportedly comes to a close after its third season. (I can already see Tim Cook tossing bags of money over Jason Sudeikis’s gate until he changes his mind.) Succession, meanwhile, feels right at home as the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent of TV dramas, and with a new season in production, it won’t be ceding the Emmys throne unless House of the Dragon tries melting it down.
Loser: New Dramas
Succession might be the darling of the drama categories, but the latest window of Emmys eligibility also brought in buzzy competitors like Apple TV+’s Severance and Showtime’s Yellowjackets. If the decibel levels from the cheering at the ceremony was indicative of how the Television Academy actually voted, Severance and Yellowjackets would’ve gone home with at least a couple of statuettes. Alas, it’s hard out there for a drama newcomer: When Succession wasn’t cleaning up awards, Squid Game was there to pick up the scraps. (Maybe all the celebrities in the audience just really like Ben Stiller and Melanie Lynskey?) But despite coming up empty on Monday night, Severance and Yellowjackets should be built for long-term success—a dystopian workforce and cannibalistic soccer stars may not have much in common, but both series are full of great performances and lingering mysteries that will continue to reel in viewers. (What’s the deal with Lumon Industries, and who the hell got eaten in the woods?) It was an Emmys night to forget for Severance and Yellowjackets, but if their promising first seasons are any indication, this isn’t the last we’ll see of them on television’s biggest stage.
Loser: Rhea Seehorn (FOR SOME REASON)
For years, a curious affliction befell members of the Television Academy: They would consistently nominate Better Call Saul for Emmys, including Outstanding Drama Series, but completely snub Rhea Seehorn as a Supporting Actress contender. How a television voting body failed to recognize one of the greatest performances of the century is one of life’s enduring mysteries, a tragedy of biblical proportions. The good news is that the Academy has finally shown signs of progress: This year Seehorn got her much-deserved Emmy nomination. But the Seehorn faithful are not just content with a nomination: We would like the Ponytail Queen to get the gold she richly deserves.
Unfortunately, Seehorn lost the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category to Julia Garner, who collected her third Emmy playing Ruth Langmore in Ozark. Garner is a fantastic actress, and Ruth is an amazing character—but Seehorn’s performance is generational. The internet has responded appropriately to this criminal oversight.
You guys, I’m sorry, no. There’s a mistake. Rhea Seehorn, you won best supporting actress. pic.twitter.com/NOsH3JzQMp— emma (@mcwexlcr) September 13, 2022
With Better Call Saul’s final season split across two Emmys eligibility windows, there’s still one more chance for Seehorn to win an Emmy in 2023. If she doesn’t win next year, WE WILL BURN HOLLYWOOD TO THE GROUND AND PRESENT RHEA WITH AN EMMY MOLDED FROM THE ASHES OF HER ENEMIES.
Winner: Squid Game
When Netflix expanded its original programming into South Korea, it was hoping to capitalize on one of the most prolific entertainment industries outside of Hollywood. But while the streamer clearly had faith in its Korean projects, not even Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos could’ve imagined that one of those programs would make history at the Emmys. After becoming a word-of-mouth sensation last year, the dystopian drama Squid Game earned 14 Emmy nominations, becoming the first foreign-language series to be recognized in each of its categories, including Outstanding Drama Series.
By the end of the ceremony on Monday, Squid Game had claimed Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series (going to creator Hwang Dong-hyuk), while Lee Jung-jae became the first person from a non-English show to win in an acting category, as Best Actor in a Drama Series. Outstanding Drama Series was out of reach—good luck prying that award away from Succession while it’s still on the air—but Squid Game further underlined that terrific television can be found throughout the world. With any luck, Squid Game’s history-making night won’t be the last time that the Emmys goes global.
Are we really going from celebrating Squid Game to dunking on Netflix? Unfortunately for anyone still holding onto Netflix stock, yes. If you take away Squid Game’s Emmy wins, it was a quiet night for the streamer, which added only an Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series win for Ozark’s Julia Garner. (An award that should’ve gone to Rhea Seehorn, BUT WE ALREADY COVERED THAT.)
In all, Netflix was far outpaced by its main rival, HBO, which won 12 on the night. And to add insult to injury, host Kenan Thompson took multiple digs at the streamer during his Emmys monologue—at one point suggesting that, since Squid Game is about people playing a deadly game while desperate for money, Netflix itself will be competing in Season 2. Netflix could’ve had the last laugh with a stronger Emmys performance, but as it stands, the company is probably praying that Squid Game’s second season lives up to the hype.
Winner: Thank You Chyrons
Acceptance speeches at award shows tend to follow a pattern: The winner tries to thank all of the people who helped them along the way (family, agents, costars, etc.) in 30 seconds, they run out of time, and then the music starts playing. Not only does this lead to a ton of winners being awkwardly played off stage, but it makes the speeches all feel the same.
Well, this year’s Emmys found a clever workaround: thank you chyrons. Instead of winners wasting all their time listing names, a chyron played below them while they used their newfound space for more personal touches. (Apparently, not all the nominees got the memo; Matthew Macfadyen and Jennifer Coolidge were both chyron-less before they were, sadly, played off.) This led to inventive and entertaining—and most importantly, unique—executions, from Sheryl Lee Ralph belting out Dianne Reeves’s “Endangered Species” to Mike White casually flexing his Survivor bona fides.
If the thank you chyrons were a trial run at this year’s Emmys, then they passed with flying colors—here’s hoping other award shows follow suit. As for the newest Emmys category that I just made up, Outstanding Thank You Chyron, Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein is an early front-runner for channeling his inner Twin Peaks: The Return fandom.
Oh heck, yeah. Now I'm really in love. #TwinPeaks #Emmys2022 #WhoIsTheDreamer @mfrost11 @LynchTheater pic.twitter.com/8a8nCDVKZa— Caitlin S., PhD (@Paleophile) September 13, 2022
Loser: Emmy #Ads
As a celebration of television, it makes complete sense that the Emmys would be the ideal platform for networks and streamers to promote their shows. (Clearly, Amazon shelled out some of its $715 million budget for Rings of Power spots.) But the extent to which NBC promoted itself during the ceremony was … noticeable. There’s no reason La Brea, a sci-fi series with a 29 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, should be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Succession and Abbott Elementary. And as Peacock sits dead last in our Ringer streaming rankings, there’s an air of desperation in NBC using its Emmys platform to drop a very long trailer for one of its new limited series. (In all fairness: A Friend of the Family looks pretty intriguing.)
But there was nothing more emblematic of NBC’s priorities than the ceremony being interrupted by extended Kia product placement. Who wants to give winners more time for their speeches when those precious seconds can be used to celebrate a moderately priced SUV?
Proud to be a part of the #Emmys and these award-winning performances. #KiaTelluride #Emmys2022 @TelevisionAcad pic.twitter.com/eyy5S6vDz1— Kia America (@Kia) September 13, 2022
Winner: Mike White
When he isn’t moonlighting as a Survivor contestant, Mike White happens to be pretty good at making television. Adapting to the restrictions of the early stages of the pandemic by filming The White Lotus at a luxury resort in Hawaii, White has parlayed that success into a full-blown anthology series. (The next season will take place at another fictional White Lotus resort in Sicily, with Emmy winner Jennifer Coolidge making a triumphant return.) And on Monday night, White not only won two awards himself, but saw The White Lotus pick up Outstanding Limited Series, and Coolidge and Murray Bartlett take home Best Supporting Actress and Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie.
Normally, I would argue that White doesn’t need any Emmy win—making prestige television for HBO is an accomplishment in and of itself. But I’m sure the Survivor contestant in White is thrilled that his series won 10 Emmys. As White alluded to during one of his several acceptance speeches, the Emmy wins might make him a target among fellow showrunners. But with The White Lotus Season 2 coming next month, it wouldn’t be surprising if White finds himself back on the Emmys stage next year.