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HBO wins big at the Emmys with ‘The White Lotus’ and ‘Succession’

Kenan Thompson hosted the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 12.
Kenan Thompson hosted the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 12.

This year’s Emmys saw returners like “Ted Lasso” win major awards, while newcomers “Squid Game” and “The White Lotus” took multiple awards.

The 74th Primetime Emmy Awards aired Sept. 12 on NBC. Kenan Thompson, NBC’s resident funnyman, hosted the show, kicking it off with a segment dancing to remixes of classic TV theme songs and some jokes.

“It’s finally here, folks,” said Thompson, declaring himself the “Mayor of Television.” “TV’s most-special night, where the biggest stars of television celebrate other stars of television while all of you watch at home on television.”

Here are the night’s biggest winners, mixed with some highlights from the Creative Arts Emmys which aired Sept. 3 and 4. 

The night’s most memorable winners and losers

HBO, which had 140 nominations total, was the night’s biggest winner, receiving 38 awards. HBO’s “The White Lotus” was the most-winning show of the night, receiving five awards during the night including Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series and 10 total awards when combined with the Creative Arts Emmys.

“Better Call Saul” did not win any of the major awards, with “Succession” taking home the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. “Better Call Saul” has now been nominated 46 times at the Emmys, but has not won any awards. However, even though the series has ended, “Better Call Saul” could return to the category next year considering the final season does fall into the period of eligibility.

Big acting wins

Julia Garner (“Ozark”) beat out Rhea Seehorn (“Better Call Saul”) for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Both actresses portrayed roles for their respective shows’ final seasons, although Seehorn’s nomination was most likely for her show’s fifth season considering its eligibility.

Brett Goldstein won for the second year in a row for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series with his role in “Ted Lasso.” During his speech, Goldstein promised not to swear in his speech so it didn’t get cut in the UK again, then immediately was cut off during the live broadcast. However, the Television Academy uploaded his full speech to YouTube.

Jason Sudeikis and “Ted Lasso” also won for the second year in a row for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Comedy Series.

Later, Sheryl Lee Ralph was stunned to learn she beat Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”) for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in “Abbott Elementary.” Her speech began with a powerful rendition of “Endangered Species.”

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SNL actors show they are ready for primetime

The “Squid Game” doll came onstage to parody the red light, green light game. “Squid Game” stars Lee Jung-Jae and Jung Ho-Yeon presented the award for Outstanding Sketch Series to “SNL” which unsurprisingly beat its only competition “A Black Lady Sketch Show.” 

“SNL” alum Tim Robinson won a well-deserved Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson” on Netflix. 

Even after losing for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, “SNL” star Bowen Yang came onstage during the night to throw shade at “The Oscars” and HBO Max.

“Did you see the Oscars?” Yang asked Emmys host and “SNL” co-star Thompson. “So many things can go wrong. Your dressing room could be locked or you could vanish into thin air like a show on HBO Max.”

“Squid Game” and Zendaya ruin my predictions

Lee Jung-Jae and Zendaya, who I incorrectly predicted were out of touch with Emmy voters, won for Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress in a Drama Series for “Squid Game” and “Euphoria.” Both made history with Jung-Jae becoming the first to win an acting award for a non-English series and Zendaya becoming the youngest person to win two acting awards at the Emmys.

“Squid Game” director Hwang Dong-hyuk continued the Korean drama’s wins with an award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. During his speech, the director said he hoped the series’ wins would help more international series win.

“Since ‘Squid Game’ got 14 nominations at the Emmys, people keep telling me I made history,” Dong-Hyuk said. “But I don’t think I made history by myself because it was you who opened up the doors for ‘Squid Game’ … I truly hope ‘Squid Game’ won’t be the last non-English series to be here at the Emmys.”

A potpourri of wins

Will Arnett literally dragged Jimmy Kimmel, who was pretending to be passed out after losing for variety talk series to John Oliver, onstage to present the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series to Quinta Brunson for “Abbott Elementary.” Kimmel stayed on the stage throughout Brunson’s speech, which caused much controversy. Brunson did not return to the stage for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series which went to Jean Smart of “Hacks.” 

In a category with four of her peers, Jennifer Coolidge won the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for “The White Lotus.” Amanda Seyfried won as a lead actress for the category with her performance in “The Dropout.”

The Emmys also had some great wins for women in categories that weren’t specifically for actresses. Lizzo won three Emmys for her reality series “Watch Out For The Big Grrrls,” with the show taking home the big award for Outstanding Competition Program. Sarah Paulson and Shonda Rhimes took the stage to present the Governors Award to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Veteran comedy series were highlighted during the Creative Arts Emmys with “What We Do in the Shadows” winning for Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes, “Atlanta” winning for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour) and “Barry” winning for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series.

Netflix’s “League of Legends” series “Arcane” won for Outstanding Animated Program. Also in the realm of animation, Chadwick Boseman won a posthumous award for his role as Star Lord T’Challa in the Disney+ Marvel series “What If…?”

Freshman series “Severance” won an Emmy for Outstanding Main Title Design in addition to music composition. “Stranger Things” won for Outstanding Music Supervision, highlighting its use of popular 80s songs. 

Wins for “The Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show” and “Adele One Night Only” put Eminem and Adele one Tony away from an EGOT. 

Michael Keaton, primarily a movie actor, won his first Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for his role in the Hulu series “Dopesick.” After being nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series six times before, Nathan Lane finally won an Emmy for another Hulu series, “Only Murders in the Building.”

John Legend performed during the “In Memoriam” section which honored actors such as Betty White, Bob Saget, James Caan, Gilbert Gottfried, Ray Liotta, Sidney Poitier and “Seinfeld” parents Estelle Harris and Liz Sheridan.

As for the actual show, some bits were lacking. Kumail Nanjiani had a cool sketch where he played the ceremony’s bartender. However, the show had weak pre-recorded sketches, which are usually the best parts of the show.

Despite being a mediocre awards show this year, the Emmys recognized shows from one of the greatest years in recent television. Awards to shows like “Squid Game” will also hopefully create more opportunities for non-English shows to win awards.