Better late than never: After being delayed four months on account of the Hollywood labor strikes, the 75th Emmy Awards finally arrived. It was all a bit strange, and to make matters even more confusing for a ceremony airing in 2024, this Emmys eligibility window stretched back to June 2022. (This explains how Obi-Wan Kenobi—a show nobody has thought about in literal years—was up for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series.) But for all the chaos leading up to the Emmys, the ceremony itself was a breath of fresh air, basking in nostalgia for earlier eras of television while familiar favorites picked up the biggest awards of the night. (Looking at you, Succession.) Below, we break down the biggest winners and losers.
Winner: The Status Quo
One week after Succession, The Bear, and Beef won the top TV awards at the Golden Globes, all three series repeated the feat at the Emmys. For Succession, which has been an Emmys darling for years, a bunch of wins for its final season—including, of course, Outstanding Drama Series—was little more than a foregone conclusion. It was a different story for The Bear: A newcomer in the comedy categories, the series beat out the likes of Ted Lasso and Abbott Elementary on its way to an absolute feast, winning six Emmys in total, including Outstanding Comedy Series. When the 76th Emmys roll around later this year, don’t be surprised if The Bear is hungry for seconds.
Finally, let’s hear it for Beef: The Netflix series, created by Lee Sung Jin, won five Emmys on the night, including Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series. If that’s it for Beef, it was one hell of a run; if Lee does end up making a second season for a show that was competing for Limited Series, well, I’m pretty sure the Emmys have a no-take-backs policy.
Since Monday’s Emmys were the 75th show, the ceremony used the opportunity to acknowledge decades of television and the people who helped bring them to life. There were re-creations of iconic sets, such as the Cheers bar, while actors from many iconic series—The Sopranos, All in the Family, and Martin, to name a few—presented awards throughout the evening. As led by host Anthony Anderson (and his sassy mom, who made sure that none of the speeches went too long), good vibes were radiating throughout the show. It might’ve been born out of an anniversary peg, but the 75th Emmys were a powerful reminder that award shows shouldn’t be afraid to embrace sincerity. By celebrating its own history and all the cultural touchstones that have come to define television for generations of viewers, this was the best (and certainly the most feel-good) Emmys ceremony in recent memory.
Loser: Confusing Eligibility Windows
Since the Emmys were delayed, The Bear was finally recognized for its first season … one week after Season 2 dominated at the Golden Globes. With how much time has passed, I genuinely believe some of the Emmy voters mistakenly thought they were voting for the second season—in any case, it’s hard to argue against The Bear’s greatness, no matter which season we’re talking about. But that was just one instance of how bizarre it was to watch a ceremony featuring shows that aired their Emmys-eligible seasons as far back as 19 months ago. Obviously, the blame falls on the Hollywood studios for taking so long to give the writers and actors what they deserve, delaying the Emmys for months in the process. But since I can barely remember what I had for breakfast last week, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who forgot about Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Winner: History-Making Actresses
Beef didn’t just sizzle at the Emmys: The show helped make Emmy history. As the costar of the series, Ali Wong became the first woman of Asian descent to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie. Meanwhile, Abbott Elementary creator Quinta Brunson became just the second Black woman to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series—the last time it happened was back in 1981, when Isabel Sanford was honored for her role in The Jeffersons. These wins by Wong and Brunson were worthy accomplishments in their own rights, but they also served as a reminder of how far the Emmys still have to go in terms of diversity and representation. Hopefully, one day these kinds of Emmy wins will be the norm rather than the exception.
Loser: Emmy Voters Who Failed to Recognize the Greatness of Rhea Seehorn (and Better Call Saul)
For years, the Television Academy failed in its duty to recognize the best performances on television by repeatedly snubbing Seehorn, who, as Kim Wexler, was the heart and soul of Better Call Saul. At long last, Seehorn was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2022, which was a promising start. But since it took so long for Emmy voters to get with the program, Monday’s ceremony was the last time Seehorn could earn the win that her career-best work so richly deserved. Once again, the Emmys shit the bed.
Unfortunately, that Seehorn went home empty-handed isn’t that surprising: Despite being one of the best shows ever made, Better Call Saul somehow never won a Primetime Emmy. But that doesn’t mean we can’t decry such an egregious oversight. On a series full of heavy hitters, Seehorn emerged as Better Call Saul’s MVP: the moral conscience in a world where breaking bad is much easier than doing the right thing. As for Better Call Saul, it will stand the test of time as one of the best shows ever made: the kind of program that the 100th edition of the Emmys ought to celebrate by recreating Saul Goodman’s law office onstage. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a bus to catch.
Loser: Ted Lasso
Did the dreaded Ted Lasso discourse finally get to Emmy voters? After winning Outstanding Comedy Series for its first two seasons, the flagship series of Apple TV+ was completely shut out on Monday night. On the one hand, The Bear burst onto the scene with an enormous level of fanfare in 2022—perhaps it was always destined to win the hearts and minds of Emmy voters. On the other hand, the way Ted Lasso collected so many awards for its first two seasons before failing to win anything for its send-off feels a lot like a soccer team blowing a 2-0 lead at halftime. As Ted himself would lament, it’s the hope that kills you.
Loser: The Last of Us
Speaking of hope: What happened to The Last of Us? As an adaptation of an acclaimed video game that was met with rapturous reviews upon release, it seemed like The Last of Us would make some noise at the Emmys. Pedro Pascal, in particular, seemed like he had a puncher’s chance of winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series—if only because so many Succession actors were nominated that you’d think the votes would be split between them.
Alas, The Last of Us would learn a lesson that many of its peers did during the peak seasons of Game of Thrones: It’s an honor just to be nominated against a cultural behemoth. In this case, it was Succession, another HBO counterpart, that dominated the drama categories. The good news for The Last of Us is that the show won’t have to worry about competing with Succession ever again; the bad news is that, in future ceremonies, it might have to square off with House of the Dragon.
Winner: Kissing Costars
Before going up to claim his Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Kieran Culkin got what Roman Roy always wanted: a kiss from daddy.
And my Kieran Culkin and Brian Cox fan fiction begins now ... pic.twitter.com/zNo5Kf7l4Y— Sarah Hepola (@sarahhepola) January 16, 2024
Meanwhile, The Bear’s Ebon Moss-Bachrach gave his costar (and real-life restaurateur) Matty Matheson one hell of a smooch while he was accepting Outstanding Comedy Series on behalf of creator Christopher Storer. I’m not sure where the Ebon-Matty kiss falls on a scale of Fredo to Brady, but I do know that it’ll be the last thing on my mind as I drift off to sleep tonight.