Lizzo accepts the award for Outstanding Competition Program.
The White Lotus creative team and cast members accept the award for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series
Julia Garner of Ozark accepts the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
The White Lotus, HBO's biting commentary on wealth, class and family set at a luxury resort, led the 74th Emmy Awards with five wins. The Apple TV+ comedy Ted Lasso was close behind with four, followed by HBO's Succession with three and ABC's Abbott Elementary and Squid Game, from Netflix, with two each.
Held at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, the ceremony — presented live on NBC and Peacock and hosted by Kenan Thompson — included a mix of first-time and repeat winners.
The newbies ran the gamut from television neophytes — including the music artist Lizzo, whose pivot to TV, the exuberant and empowering Lizzo's Make Room for the Big Grrrls, was named Outstanding Competition Series — and others with decades of experience — most vividly, the spectacular Sheryl Lee Ralph, who brought down the house with a passionate acceptance speech for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance as a kindergarten teacher in the freshman comedy Abbott Elementary.
In an unforgettable moment, Ralph began by singing part of "Endangered Species," a song by jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves: "I am an endangered species, but I sing no victim's song. I am a woman, I am an artist and I know where my voice belongs." She continued with a moving appeal for self-belief. "To anyone who has ever, ever had a dream and thought your dream wasn't, wouldn't, couldn't come true, I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like. This is what striving looks like. And don't you ever, ever give up on you."
The night's other award for Abbott Elementary — a mockumentary set in a financially challenged Philadelphia public school — was for writing. It went to creator Quinta Brunson for her pilot script.
In addition to its Emmy for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, The White Lotus scored wins for writing and directing — both of which went to creator Mike White — and two performing categories. Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series went to Murray Bartlett, who played the manager of the titular resort, and the winner for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series went to Jennifer Coolidge for her performance as a woman seeking peace and healing following the death of her mother.
Speaking to the audience, White invited everyone to party, then referenced his stint on the long-running CBS competition series Survivor. "I was on Survivor, and on Survivor, like, the way to stay in the game is you lower your threat level," he said. "And it's like now I feel like I've raised my threat level. And it's like, I just want to stay in the game. Awards are great. I just want — I love writing. I love doing what I do. Like, don't come for me. Don't vote me off the island. Please!"
Bartlett, who grew up in Perth, Australia, sent a heartfelt message to his support system in Oz: "To my P-Town family, I love you. To my partner, Matt, thank you for being my sanctuary. And finally, I just want to thank my mom, all the way home in Australia, for giving me the most wonderful foundation of unconditional love and inspiring me to believe that we can all do that for each other."
Coolidge was delightfully loopy in victory. "I took a lavender bath tonight, and it made me swell up inside my dress, and I'm having a hard time speaking," she said. When the orchestra began playing her off, she responded by dancing and trying to talk over the music. "This is a once-in-a-ifetime thing, and I'm full, I'm full!" she protested.
Ted Lasso's win for Outstanding Comedy Series was its second in a row in the category. Two of the show's cast also won for the second consecutive year: co-creator and star Jason Sudeikis scored Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy and Brett Goldstein, who is also a writer on the ensemble about an American college football coach who takes over an English football (that is, soccer) team, won again for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for playing Roy Kent, a retired footballer whose rough-edged exterior masks a sensitive streak. The fourth Ted Lasso win of the night went to director M.J. Delaney.
After thanking his family and the Ted Lasso team, Sudeikis ended his speech with a shout out to the comedy's many fans. "Thank you so much for the people that watch this show and dig it as much as we dig making it," he said.
Goldstein, whose character is known for lacing his conversation with expletives, couldn't resist his own. "Last time I was here I was told not to swear, and I did," he said. "And I'm sorry because it meant the feed got cut back home in the U.K. So my family never got to hear me say this. So, thank you for this second chance. Mum, Dad, Tara and Matt, Zebby and Bo, I fucking love you, I really do."
Delaney, with sly self-awareness, said, "There are so many people that I should thank, but it is really boring when non-famous people do this. So, I will just say I can't think of a more fun bunch of people to go to work with every day. I love you guys. Thank you."
Also prevailing for the second time — albeit not in consecutive years — was Succession, which took the award for Outstanding Drama Series. The saga of internecine strife within a wealthy media family first won the category in 2020. Its other two awards were for writing, which went to creator Jesse Armstrong, and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama, won by Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Tom Wambsgams, son-in-law of business titan/tyrant Logan Roy, played by Brian Cox.
Accepting his writing award, Armstrong addressed the anxiety and self-doubt so often associated with the profession: "To my fellow writers out there, if you are blind to all the merits and you can only see the faults in what you are doing, it doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong. It might just mean you are a proper writer. So, this is to all my fellow writers in the writers' room of Succession, who I love and respect so much."
Receiving his statuette, Macfadyen said, "It's such a pleasure and a privilege for me to play this bonkers gift of a role in this wonderful show." Backstage, he noted that his Succession role is a departure from much of his work. He has often been cast as "stuffy Englishmen, often in period costume," so it was a pleasure for him play "a Midwesterner whom one critic described as 'a human grease stain.'"
Second-time-in-a-row winners also topped two lead actress categories. Zendaya took home the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her wrenching performance as Rue, a high-school addict struggling to stay clean, in HBO's Euphoria.
After thanking her fellow nominees and creative collaborators on the series, she said, "My greatest wish for Euphoria was that it could help heal people. And I just want to say thank you for everyone who has shared their story with me. I want you to know that anyone who has loved a Rue or feels like they are a Rue, I want you to know that I'm so grateful for your stories, and I carry them with me, and I carry them with her."
Jean Smart, of HBO Max's Hacks, repeated as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the role of Deborah Vance, a veteran standup comic whose life and career change when she is persuaded to update her act with the assistance of a young writer in her twenties, played by Hannah Einbinder.
Smart showed deft comic chops of her own in her acceptance speech: "Rachel Brosnahan, who is one of my fabulous fellow nominees, sent me — it was very classy. She sent this box of these unbelievable designer cookies," she said. "They were like five pounds each ... And I thought that was so nice and classy until I realized that she was hoping I wouldn't be able to fit into a single dress in Hollywood."
Longer streaks were extended in the variety series categories. HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver made it seven years straight as Outstanding Variety Talk Series, and NBC's Saturday Night Live carried Outstanding Variety Sketch Series for the sixth consecutive year.
Squid Game — the South Korean sensation about 456 financially strapped people who agree to compete in a series of children's games for a winner-take-all jackpot of $38 million in cash — with grisly consequences for the losers — scored a directing win for director Hwang Dong-Hyuk, who also created the show. Its star, Lee Jung-Jae, won the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama. Lee made history as the first person from a foreign-language show in the category.
"Since Squid Game got fourteen nominations at the Emmys," Hwang said, "people keep telling me I made history. But I don't think I made history by myself, because it was you who opened up the doors to Squid Game, invited us here tonight at the Emmys. So, I believe I have to say we made history together. And I truly hope Squid Game won't be the last non-English series to be here at the Emmys. And I also hope this won't be my last Emmy either. I'll be back with Season 2. Thank you."
Other awards of note included an Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama win for Julia Garner — her third Emmy for the role of impoverished but ingenious money launderer Ruth Langmore — in the final season of the Netflix thriller Ozark.
On stage, Garner expressed gratitude for the gift of her character to "our showrunner, Chris Mundy, and all of the writers in the writers' room. Thank you for writing Ruth. She's changed my life."
In addition, Michael Keaton won his first-ever Emmy — for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series — for his work as a drug-addicted doctor in Dopesick, Hulu's devastating examination of the opioid crisis and the pharmaceutical industry's complicity in perpetuating it.
Accepting his award from surprise presenter Oprah Winfrey, who opened the show with inspirational words about overcoming rejection and adversity, Keaton joked, "You've got about ninety of these, don't you?"
He then recalled the day his father won a black-and-white TV in a raffle and how he watched it with his mouth agape from ages five to ten. The star thanked his family for tolerating his reenactments: "They were never demeaning. They were never dismissive. They never looked down upon it. They never made fun of me. And, in fact, they would ask me to reenact scenes for them... But I've always had those people over the years, the true believers. I fucking love it, man."
Speaking to reporters afterward, Keaton, who has worked primarily in film for many years, reiterated his longtime love of TV. "Pound for pound, television — the writing, production — is better than anything right now," he said.
Another Hulu program unfolding in a health-care setting — The Dropout, about the rise and fall of the blood-testing startup Theranos — scored a big win when Amanda Seyfried took the prize for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series for the role of Elizabeth Holmes, the defunct company's enigmatic founder, who was convicted of fraud earlier this year.
Seyfried thanked Elizabeth Meriwether, creator of The Dropout, and the other members of the production team and described working on the project as "the best time of my life" before urging her children to get to bed.
Jerrod Carmichael — also a first-time winner — captured the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Special for Rothaniel, a deeply personal stand-up performance in which he revealed that he is gay.
Shirtless under a long white fox coat, Carmichael told the audience, "I'm going to go home. I am not, like, a sore winner, but I'm going to go home because I can't top this right now." Backstage, he admitted, "I don't know if this cures the internal angst." As for that remarkable coat? "It's vintage. Puff Daddy wore it in a music video, so it might as well be the Shroud of Turin to me."
The evening also included one special honor, the Governors Award, which is given to an individual, company or organization that has made a profound, transformational and long-lasting contribution to the arts and/or science of television.
This year's recipient was the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the only research-based organization working collaboratively within the entertainment industry to create gender balance, advocate for inclusion and reduce negative stereotyping in family entertainment media.
Accepting the award, the organization's founder, Oscar winner Geena Davis, said, “Television can often directly impact how people see themselves and judge their value in the world. And in the time since I launched the institute, we have made a great deal of progress, but still, there's more work to do.”
The Television Academy shares this vision for more diverse and inclusive representation in television and on December 1 will host a diversity, equity and inclusion summit to bring the industry together on this important subject.
Representation was also a theme in some remarks from the stage, perhaps most notably in Lizzo's speech upon accepting the award for her competition series, in which women audition for the opportunity to join the group of plus-sized backup dancers who perform with her on stage.
"I'm very emotional," she said. "And the trophy is nice, but my emotion is for these people who are on this stage with me, the stories that they shared. They're not that unique. They just don't get the platform. Telling stories — let's just tell more stories."
To create a more inclusive experience for blind and visually impaired viewers, NBCUniversal presented the NBC broadcast with live audio description on the Secondary Audio Program channel (SAP), provided by Descriptive Video Works. The broadcast was also available with additional audio narration, describing the Emmy-night visuals.
Statuettes were presented by three participants in the Television Academy Foundation's internship program: Oiwadara Adedara, Mikaya Gingrey, Sarah Tadayon and Manuel Díaz.
The 74th Emmy Awards telecast was produced by Done+Dusted in association with Hudlin Entertainment and directed by Hamish Hamilton.
A full list of winners is available here.