Against the backdrop of President Donald Trump's assaults on the media, women, and people of color, two feminist dramas and America's most powerful platform for political satire dominated at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards.
HBO's “Big Little Lies” took the award for best limited series and Hulu's “The Handmaid's Tale” won for best drama series, with both dominating most of the categories in their respective fields.
But NBC's “Saturday Night Live” outperformed both, winning the most Emmys between Sunday night's ceremony and the Creative Arts Emmys a week earlier. “SNL” took nine awards, one more than “Big Little Lies” and “The Handmaid's Tale,” which tied for second place with eight each.
With Trump the subject of near constant onstage talk — from gentle ribbing to pointed defiance — women and people of colour stood out as they accepted their awards, including Nicole Kidman, Sterling K Brown, Elisabeth Moss, Donald Glover, Riz Ahmed, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Aziz Ansari, and Lena Waithe.
“Veep”, another political satire, won for best comedy series, its third straight award in the category. Since 2007, only three shows have won best comedy series — “30 Rock”, “Modern Family”, and “Veep”.
Laura Dern won the first “Big Little Lies” award of the night, for best supporting limited series-movie actress. Director Jean-Marc Vallee also won, as did Alexander Skarsgård, who took a best supporting actor, miniseries or movie Emmy.
Later in the show, Dern and Skarsgård's castmate, Kidman, won best movie or limited-series drama actress. Kidman began her acceptance speech by thanking her co-star Reese Witherspoon, who was also nominated in the category. Witherspoon and Kidman also accepted the Emmy for best limited series on behalf of the show.
“The Handmaid's Tale” then won the award for best drama series. The crowd at the Microsoft Theater cheered as Atwood joined executive producer Bruce Miller onstage. The series became the first show on a streaming service to win the best drama award — a feat that previous nominees from Netflix's “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” did not pull off. Also from “The Handmaid's Tale”, Ann Dowd won the award for best supporting actress.
Brown of “This Is Us” won the award for best actor in a drama series one year after winning in the limited-series category for “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”.
Glover won the award for comedy directing for “Atlanta”, taking the first Emmy of his career. He later won again for best actor in a comedy series.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus won for best comedy actress for “Veep”, her sixth Emmy for playing politico Selina Meyer — the most ever for one performer in a single role.
Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin took home best supporting comedy actress and actor awards for their work on the NBC comedy franchise, which also won for best variety sketch program. But the “SNL” influence was present even before awards began being handed out. In the highlight of host Stephen Colbert's monologue, the night's host introduced a surprise guest — former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Longtime “SNL” helmer Don Roy King won for best director for a variety series. The wins extended the number of Emmys for “Saturday Night Live” to 51 — more than any other show in television history.
Baldwin, in a shoutout to Trump's longstanding disappointment over never having won an Emmy for “The Apprentice”, said as he accepted his award, “I suppose I should say, at long last, Mister President, here is your Emmy.”
Colbert, in his monologue, got plenty of digs in at Trump, but also targeted his television peers, declaring, “Tonight we binge ourselves.”
The staff of “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” won best writing for a variety-talk series. The show also won for variety-talk series — in a field of nominees dominated by late-night hosts such as Colbert, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, and Samantha Bee.
Waithe and show co-creator and star Ansari won for best comedy series writing for Netflix's “Master of None”, making Waithe, who acknowledged the LGBTQ community from the stage, the first African-American woman to win an Emmy in the category.
“The Voice” won for reality-competition series. Charlie Brooker won for writing for a TV movie or miniseries for “Black Mirror: San Junipero”. Brooker accepted again later when “San Junipero” won for best TV movie.