On Monday night, the 74th Emmy Awards premiered on NBC, celebrating the best of television from the past year in a night full of surprises, upsets and emotional and awkward moments.
The night started out with an opening musical sequence from host Kenan Thompson that ultimately fell flat in its attempt to spoof a series of classic TV shows by parodying their theme songs. After somewhat of a rocky start, Thompson gave the stage to Oprah Winfrey, who came out to present the first award of the night for Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie. In one of the more stacked categories of the night with Andrew Garfield, Colin Firth and Oscar Isaac, the award went to Michael Keaton for his work on “Dopesick.”
Hannah Einbinder and Jean Smart from HBO’s “Hacks” came out next to present the award for Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie to Murray Bartlett of “The White Lotus,” the first of many for the Hawaiian-set series. Kenan Thompson officially opened the night as host after the first commercial break, with a monologue that warranted some laughs and began the ceremony on a better note than the musical number.
“The White Lotus” was one of the dramas on everyone’s radar on Monday night, along with the third season of “Succession” and the final seasons of “Ozark,” “Yellowjackets” and “Better Call Saul.” After Bartlett’s win, Matthew Macfadyen — Tom Wambsgans in “Succession” — won for Supporting Actor in a Drama series, a win I was hopefully anticipating after his incredible and memorable performance in the third season.
In the first award for Netflix’s “Ozark,” Julia Garner took home the award for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. The category was similarly stacked to many other categories in the ceremony, but I was still pulling for Rhea Seehorn to get recognized for her stunning performance as Kim Wexler in the first half of the last season of “Better Call Saul.” However, there is still a chance that Seehorn and Bob Odenkirk will get nominated next year for their phenomenal work in the show’s final episodes.
Ushering in the comedy portion of the night, Sheryl Lee Ralph won the award for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal as Barbara Ralph on the breakout hit “Abbott Elementary.” Ralph gave a rousing speech that brought the audience to a standing ovation, celebrating both her win and the impact of a decades long career. Brett Goldstein won the award’s counterpart for his work as Roy Kent in the second season of “Ted Lasso.”
Fan favorite Jennifer Coolidge won for Supporting Actress in a Limited Series for “White Lotus,” and Amanda Seyfried won for Lead Actress for her performance as Elizabeth Holmes in “The Dropout.” Mike White, creator of “The White Lotus,” won consecutive awards for directing and writing for a limited series. Quinta Brunson won for Writing in a Comedy Series for “Abbott Elementary,” an exciting and wonderful win, hindered slightly by Jimmy Kimmel lying on the stage while she gave her speech, in an awkward, almost disrespectful joke.
As the night entered its last hour, the biggest awards of the night started with Jason Sudeikis winning for Lead Actor in a Comedy series for “Ted Lasso.” The stars of “The Bear,” Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White — who will no doubt be back to collect nominations, and hopefully awards, next year — came out to present the award for Directing for a Drama Series to Hong Dong-hyuk for “Squid Game.” Zendaya won the award for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, her second Emmy for her work as Rue Bennett in “Euphoria.”
Jean Smart returned to the stage to accept her award for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for “Hacks.” Jesse Armstrong accepted the award for Writing in a Drama Series for “Succession,” the second award the highly anticipated series had won so far. In the highly competitive Lead Actor in a Drama Series category, Lee Jung-jae won for “Squid Game.” While I never saw “Squid Game,” I was pulling for Bob Odenkirk’s performance in the first part of the last season of “Better Call Saul,” or Adam Scott in “Severance.”
Based on the track record throughout the night, it was no surprise when “The White Lotus” won for Outstanding Limited Series. The next two categories were more edge of your seat moments, as it felt more of a toss up for Outstanding Comedy Series and Drama Series. “Ted Lasso” won for comedy series, beating out newcomer “Abbott Elementary,” one of my personal favorites. It is clearly just the beginning for “Abbott,” as its popularity and excellence prove that it will hopefully have a long standing residency in the comedy categories.
“Succession” won for Outstanding Drama Series, which didn’t feel surprising given the show’s success, but given the lack of awards throughout the night compared to previous years, the category as a whole felt more up in the air.
The entire ceremony overall felt standard, with some great speeches, incredible wins and upsets. With the exception of “The White Lotus,” there didn’t seem to be one show that had a clear sweep of the categories. In a landscape of incredible TV, it is no surprise that there was a lot to root for. The night’s nominees, winners or otherwise, deserved a celebration of their incredible contributions to the year’s television.
Claire DuMont SC ’23 is one of TSL’s TV columnists. She always cries during award shows. She is currently watching the third season of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” and awaiting the return of “Abbott Elementary.”