After two consecutive ceremonies shaped by the pandemic, the Primetime Emmys returned to what felt more or less like a pre-Covid format on Monday night. The awards were handed out in the celebrity-stuffed Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, and the corny bits were about TV clichés, not masks and social distancing.
The show remained fixated on a milder existential threat, however: streaming services. The theme remained dominant even though the ceremony ran on Peacock as well as NBC, with the host, Kenan Thompson, working multiple Netflix digs into his monologue. “For one more year,” The Times’s Mike Hale wrote in his review of the telecast, “we got the weird spectacle of broadcast TV nervously proclaiming its relevance as if it wouldn’t have the chance to do so much longer.”
Along the way, there was the usual array of leaden gags, shameless commercialism and genuinely poignant moments that transcended all the award-show contrivance. There was also, in the success of series like “Abbott Elementary,” evidence that the broadcasters still have some Emmy relevance left in them, even as prestige cable and streaming services claimed the biggest prizes. JEREMY EGNER
Give Sheryl Lee Ralph another award.
A key to good comedy is having a distinctive voice. Sheryl Lee Ralph, the former “Dreamgirls” actress who won best supporting comedy actress for “Abbott Elementary,” has that in more ways than one.
She took the stage and belted the opening lines of “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves before launching into a fervent acceptance that deserved a statuette of its own. JAMES PONIEWOZIK
‘Abbott Elementary’ emerges.
“Abbott Elementary,” the breakout ABC sitcom set in a struggling Philadelphia public school, won two Primetime Emmys for its inaugural season, ahead of next week’s Season 2 debut.
In addition to Ralph’s acting win, the show’s creator, Quinta Brunson, who also stars, picked up a prize for best comedic writing, and the series won a Creative Arts Emmy this month for best casting.
Of its seven total nominations, one was for best comedy; had “Abbott” won, it would have been the first network comedy to do so since “Modern Family” in 2014. Based on its performance in its first time out, “Abbott” should be a top Emmy contender for years to come. KALIA RICHARDSON
Jennifer Coolidge wins and overshares.
Jennifer Coolidge won her first Emmy on Monday for her supporting role in the HBO anthology series “The White Lotus.” The show’s creator, Mike White, made the character specifically for Coolidge, who in her early 30s lost her own mother.
True to the oversharing nature of the women she often plays, Coolidge was quick to offer a disclaimer up front: “I just want to say, you know, I took a lavender bath tonight right before the show, and it made me swell up inside my dress,” she said. “And I’m having a hard time speaking.” KALIA RICHARDSON
Here comes the music …
The rhythm of the show was weirdly off. The intros, clips and bits often felt as if they were in the wrong order; the commentary from the announcer, Sam Jay, didn’t land, and the banter segments were too varied to hit a consistent pace. The ceremony just couldn’t find its stride.
One conspicuous result was that while winners on award shows often note that the countdown clock for their speeches is intimidating, Monday’s Emmy winners seemed extra pressured and thus extra flustered. The show played off engaging winners like Quinta Brunson and Jennifer Coolidge while making plenty of time for inane “copaganda” segments and slow bits that went nowhere.
The point of the show is the speeches! Let us have them! Budget the time better! MARGARET LYONS
Lizzo enlivens the show.
That “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” took the award for outstanding competition program is a breath of fresh air for a stagnant category.
“The Amazing Race” has won 10 times, “The Voice” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” each four times, and no show had won the category in its first season. There were so many as-predicted winners this year — not a vice per se; “Succession” is a great series — that this was especially refreshing, and Lizzo’s emotional acceptance speech helped energize a flagging show. MARGARET LYONS
Snubbed but hilarious.
Both “Barry” and “What We Do in the Shadows,” two of TV’s best comedies, got shut out. They lost out to worthy winners, but those shows are both extraordinary, and I hope “Shadows,” especially, gets its awards glory at some point. MARGARET LYONS
We played off Jennifer Coolidge for this?
What’s the best way to celebrate what people love most about TV? Not with a surprise dose of what people hate most about TV.
This year’s broadcast included a massive Kia ad, smuggled in under the guise of a sketch about TV dialogue. I know TV runs on car commercials, but this one drove me nuts. JAMES PONIEWOZIK
‘Squid Game’ makes history.
“Squid Game,” the dystopian Netflix drama that exploded into an international smash hit, made history on Monday, picking up multiple drama awards.
Lee Jung-jae, the star of the series, took home the top acting prize and became the first person from a foreign-language show to win best actor in a drama. And Hwang Dong-hyuk won the drama directing Emmy. The series, Netflix’s most watched new series ever, according to the streamer, was also up for the Emmy for best drama, an award “Succession” ultimately won.
Coming into Monday, the show had been nominated for 14 Emmys and won four, including awards for guest acting, stunts production design and visual effects, presented this month in the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony.
In his acceptance speech, Lee praised the show and those involved with it for making “a realistic problem we all face come to life so creatively.” MATT STEVENS
‘Ted Lasso’ doubles up.
The Apple TV+ comedy “Ted Lasso” enjoyed a strong Emmys night for the second consecutive year, taking home several top prizes, including its second win for best comedy.
Jason Sudeikis likewise won best comedic actor for a second straight year, and Brett Goldstein once again broke his promise not to swear on TV (while picking up a repeat win for supporting actor). MATT STEVENS
‘Succession’ reclaims the throne.
The Television Academy once again made “Succession” its favorite child, awarding that HBO dramedy about a Murdoch-like corporate clan the prize for best drama, solidifying its status as the most esteemed series on television right now. It previously was named best drama in 2020.
Jesse Armstrong, the show’s creator, won for best writing for a drama series, but the show came up short in other areas — it won four of the 25 categories in which it was nominated, with Matthew Macfadyen taking the only acting prize, for his supporting role. (The fourth win was for casting.) — JULIA JACOBS
Mike White invokes ‘Survivor’ as ‘The White Lotus’ dominates.
“The White Lotus,” the hit HBO series that skewered the entitled behavior of wealthy vacationers, scooped up five Primetime Emmys, including the award for best limited series. The show’s creator, Mike White, who picked up back-to-back Emmys for writing and directing, compared his writing win to increasing his threat level on the reality competition show “Survivor,” on which he was once a contestant.
“I just want to stay in the game,” he said, adding: “Don’t come for me. Don’t vote me off the island, please.” KALIA RICHARDSON