Media family saga Succession, dystopian drama Watchmen and feel-good comedy Schitt’s Creek dominated the Emmy Awards on Sunday in a show sprinkled with jokes about the coronavirus pandemic, political jibes and appeals for racial justice.
“Hello, and welcome to the PandEmmys!,” said host Jimmy Kimmel, opening the show, where most celebrities took part remotely from their sofas and backyards dressed in a variety of gowns, hoodies and sleepwear.
“It seems frivolous and unnecessary to do this during a global pandemic,” Kimmel said as he opened the live show from Los Angeles.
“What’s happening tonight is not important. It’s not going to stop Covid. It’s not going to put out the fires, but it’s fun. And right now we need fun. This has been a miserable year. It’s been a year of division, injustice (and) disease,” he added.
HBO’s Succession, the wickedly juicy tale of a fractious media family, was named best drama series, while Jeremy Strong won best actor for his role as a downtrodden son. Succession’s seven-Emmy haul included writing and directing.
In one of the most pointed acceptance speeches of the night, Succession creator Jesse Armstrong made a series of what he called “un-thank yous.”
“Un-thank you to the virus for keeping us all apart this year. Un-thank you to President Trump for his crummy and uncoordinated response. Un-thank you to (British Prime Minister) Boris Johnson and his government for doing the same in my country. Un-thank you to all the nationalist and sort of quasi-nationalist governments in the world who are exactly the opposite of what we need right now,” said Armstrong.
HBO’s alternative-reality show Watchmen, infused with racial themes, won for best limited series, while actress Regina King won for her lead performance as the show’s kick-ass police detective.
Watchmen was the night’s biggest winner with a total of 11 Emmys, including technical awards handed out last week. HBO was the biggest overall winner, with 30 Emmys, followed by Netflix with 21.
Watchmen creator Damon Lindelof dedicated his Emmy to the victims and survivors of the 1921 massacre of the Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which partly inspired the series.
Several celebrities, including King, presenter Sterling K. Brown, and Mrs. America supporting actress winner Uzo Aduba, wore Black Lives Matter-themed t-shirts or urged viewers to vote in the Nov. 3 U.S. elections.
Schitt’s Creek, a sleeper hit on the small Pop TV network about a wealthy family forced to live in a rundown motel, won a total of nine Emmys, including best comedy series as well as acting awards for Canadian stars Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, his son Daniel Levy, and Annie Murphy.
The coronavirus pandemic meant no red carpet and no physical audience. Instead, producers sent camera kits and microphones to all the nominees, scattered in 125 places around the world, who chose how and where they wanted to be seen.
The Schitt’s Creek winners got their trophies delivered to them in a restaurant-style setup in Ontario, Canada, by a person dressed in a custom hazmat suit, designed to resemble a tuxedo.
The biggest shock of the night came when former Disney Channel actress Zendaya, 24, was named best drama actress for playing a teen drug addict in HBO’s Euphoria, beating presumed favorites Laura Linney (Ozark) and Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show.)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver was named best variety talk series for the fifth successive year, and the British comedian accepted wearing a red Liverpool soccer shirt in honor of his favorite British team.