2021 Emmy Awards: From ‘The Crown’ and ‘Ted Lasso’s’ Big Night to the Best Fashion Looks, Our Favourite Moments
Olivia Colman, 47, won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the fourth season of 'The Crown' at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday night. The win was part of the Netflix series' sweep of the dramatic acting categories. Photo: Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images
The 73rd annual Emmy Awards on Sunday night marked an exuberant return to a (modified, COVID-careful) live audience of stars all dressed up in their covetable finery. As the pandemic has accelerated a trend to tanking ratings for awards shows across the board, none of us could have borne another awkward Zoom gathering.
Instead, the Emmy’s delivered some big name wins and live acceptance speeches with Jason Sudeikis, Kate Winslet, Jean Smart, Michaela Cole (redemption for I May Destroy You after its high-profile Golden Globes snub), Olivia Coleman, Josh O’Connor and Ewan McGregor taking home the big category trophies for their exemplary television work this past year. Winslet, 45, who won the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for Mare of Easttown, was particularly moving when she thanked the show’s writers for creating a flawed middle-aged character viewers were able to relate to.
On the flip side, the show was criticized for its lack of diversity among winners in the acting categories. All 12 acting awards went to white actors — even in a year with a record number of nominees (44 per cent) being people of colour — and many viewers took to social media following the show to voice their frustration.
One of the other big stories of the night was the domination of streaming services. To start, Netflix won 44 awards overall — between the earlier Creative Arts Emmys and the Sunday broadcast — tying it for the most all-time wins in a single year by a network or streaming platform. Netflix shares the record with CBS which, in 1974, won the equivalent number for shows that included The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Carol Burnett Show and MASH. Netflix built their record on the backs of shows like The Crown and The Queen’s Gambit, which won the streaming giant’s first two series awards ever — for Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Limited Series respectively.
In addition to Netflix’s big night, another streaming service — Apple TV+ — also scored big, with 10 overall Emmy wins including Outstanding Comedy Series for Ted Lasso.
Meanwhile, the choice of Cedric the Entertainer to host was an effort to inject vitality and irreverence into the proceedings. The 57-year of star of The Neighbourhood told The Hollywood Reporter ahead of his hosting duties that his goal was to “get rid of the ‘We’re behind the velvet rope and you’re not approach.’ Let’s grab viewers and bring them back there with us like they’re at the party.” His intention was for viewers to feel like “Yo, that was a fun night.” He also acknowledged the threat of cancel culture, and vowed to try to be funny without offending anyone. Indeed, the lacerating humour of award shows past was largely absent, while Cedric appeared in numerous pre-taped sketches sprinkled throughout the show.
There was also one remote location element, as the cast and crew of The Crown got dolled up and gathered together in England (minus Josh O’Connor, who was in Los Angeles).
And overall, there was little political protest content compared to recent years. Canuck Seth Rogen, however did call out the Emmys at the top of the show for what he saw as a lack of appropriate COVID protocol.
“They said this was outdoors. It’s not. They lied to us. We’re in a hermetically sealed tent right now. I would not have come to this,” he quipped. “It’s more important that we have three chandeliers than that we make sure we don’t kill Eugene Levy tonight. That is what has been decided.”
According to USA Today, Emmy organizers noted that they’d set the tables for the audience six feet apart, the audience was restricted to nominees (along with one permitted guest each), and everyone was fully vaccinated and tested before entering.
In the end, the broadcast was sweetly old-fashioned with some screaming and gobsmacked winners, a smattering of ovations and a lot of schmaltzy shtick — like the cast of Schitt’s Creek re-uniting to present in a bit where Eugene Levy’s lines were stripped from the teleprompter in retaliation for him supposedly insulting the writers of the show. However, a long, pre-taped bit involving actors who have never won an Emmy gathering in a support group felt like filler.
With that in mind, from funny moments to fashion, we revisit six of our favourite moments from the 2021 Emmys.
Who knew Rita Wilson could rap? Well, we did see her perform verse on Instagram while she was quarantining due to COVID alongside hubbie Tom Hanks in Australia in the earliest days of the pandemic. But there was likely some Nyquil involved there.
It turns out, though, that the 64-year-old has a thing for rhymes for real: she reprised her rap career Sunday night joining Cedric the Entertainer, LL Cool J and Lil Dicky to perform Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend” for the opening number in which Cedric interacted with some of the stars from top nominated shows such as WandaVision, The Mandalorian and Lovecraft Country. Wilson came dressed to dance in a Tom Ford slim suit of sparkling herringbone with a sequin camisole and layers of silver and diamond necklaces, looking quite the rock chick.
The Crown Continues Its Reign
The fourth season of The Crown won 11 of the 24 Emmys it was nominated for (it tied for most nominations with The Mandalorian), including capturing the award for Outstanding Drama Series for the first time.
In addition, two different actresses who played Queen Elizabeth II in the show in the same season each won awards for the portrayals. Olivia Colman, 47, took home the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for playing Her Majesty in her second, and final, season in the role.
Meanwhile Claire Foy, who also won an Emmy for her portrayal of the Queen in her second season of playing the role, nabbed another on Sunday evening — for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of Princess Elizabeth in a flashback scene in the fourth season (Foy won her award during the two-night Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony earlier in the week).
Along with Colman’s win, The Crown swept all the other major dramatic acting categories: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles); Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Gillian Anderson, 53, as Margaret Thatcher); and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Tobias Menzies, 47, as Prince Philip).
Off screen, the show’s creator Peter Morgan, 58, won in the Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series category while Jessica Hobbs, 54, won for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.
That said, the real-life royals took a comedic hit from Cedric the Entertainer. The host noted that the Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special interview that aired in March — and which featured jaw-dropping revelations about everything from Markle’s mental health and lack of support she received to concern within the Royal Family about Archie’s skin colour — had nabbed a nomination for Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series Or Special (though it didn’t win). Cedric went on to make a few jokes at the royal couple’s expense before bringing up the mention from the interview that members of the royal family allegedly were concerned about the skin colour of the couple’s first-born child, Archie.
“They need little Archie!” he quipped. “I mean, Charles can’t dance. Who else going to teach them how to TikTok? I can just see it now, baby Archie with the Queen like, ‘Come on, Gammy.'”
Nice Guys Finish First
Ted Lasso was a cultural phenomenon this past year, the optimistic slice of fictional sporting life that we didn’t know we needed until we got it.
The Emmys recognized the talent in the quirky, unlikely story of an American football coach transplanted to London to coach a losing (English-style) football team with 20 nominations. The co-creator/writer and series star Jason Sudeikis, 46, embodies the moustachioed title character: he’s a proud and oblivious nerd, a Ned Flanders of a man who puts inspiring personal growth in his team ahead of winning. As Sudeikis said on stage accepting his award as lead actor in a comedy series: “This show is about family, mentors, teachers, teammates.” The show also took home trophies for Outstanding Supporting Actress and Actor for Hannah Waddingham, 47, and Brett Goldstein, 41, respectively.
Jean, the Comeback Queen
Jean Smart, 70, has been having a career year. Nominated for two Emmys this year, she took home the gong for Best Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in Hacks and the audience of her peers went wild.
The first thing she did when the applause died down was to shout out to her colleagues on Mare of Easttown, for which she was also nominated (for Best Supporting Actress on a Limited Series Drama).
She then revealed that her great career year was tempered by a personal tragedy — the loss, six months ago Saturday, of her husband, Richard Gilliland. Smart related that he had put his career on the back-burner to enable her to find success in her own work.
The other actress having a banner comeback moment, Jennifer Coolidge, 60 — who wowed in The White Lotus — appeared as a presenter right after Smart’s big win. Coolidge also clearly had the celebrity audience’s heart, and she pulled off a sly bit about how the male nominees for actor in a comedy series had “overcome” the hardship of being men.
Remembering Lost Voices
Two stars who were lost in the weeks ahead of the broadcast were remembered by their peers. Kerry Washington paid tribute to Michael K. Williams, who was a nominee for his work on Lovecraft Country. Known best for his work on The Wire, he died Sept. 6 at age 54 of a possible drug overdose. And Canadian-born comic Norm Macdonald got a shout out from John Oliver and then later from Lorne Michaels, his old boss at Saturday Night Live. Macdonald died September 14 after a private nine-year battle with acute leukemia. He was 61.
Debbie Allen Wins Governor’s Award
Dancer, choreographer and episodic television director Debbie Allen, 71, began dancing at the age of three years old. A prodigy, she was denied admittance to the Houston Ballet Academy because of the colour of her skin. She eventually won her rightful place at the school and then went on to graduate from Howard University. A tribute clip captured the determination of the young Allen: “I am a woman, I am Black, I am beautiful, I am bold, I am confident.”
That special quality was first apparent to television viewers when she appeared in West Side Story, then in her breakthrough role as the dance instructor in Fame. In the intervening decades, she split her energy between the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, offering training to underprivileged young talents, directing series such as Grey’s Anatomy and choreographing the Oscars 10 times. Among the stars paying tribute to Allen were Dolly Parton and Misty Copeland. Standing on the Emmy stage she cut off the wrap up music and said, simply: “It has taken a lot of courage to be the only woman in the room most of the time.”
Return to Glamour
In contrast to the high-concept stunt dressing that characterized last week’s Met Gala, the Emmys tonight was a solid return to serious fashion, split between Old Hollywood glamour and some daring avant-garde statement gowns. But it wasn’t just the women having fun with their stylists: the move to much more interesting choices for men continues apace.
Leading the throwback glamour brigade was Catherine Zeta-Jones, 51, on hand to support her nominated husband, Michael Douglas, 76, in a strapless burgundy Cristina Ottaviano gown with a thigh-high slit and a Lorraine Schwartz diamond necklace.
Emerging fashion plate Yara Shahidi rocked an emerald green, tea-length Dior that could have sprung to life from To Catch a Thief. And Kerry Washington, 44, was stunning in a lilac corseted custom Etro gown.
Angela Bassett, 63, brought Canada into the fashion game at this year’s Emmy’s with a black column gown with fuchsia ruffles by Greta Constantine. Elizabeth Olsen wore her sisters’ label, The Row, in the form of an elegant, loose cream caftan. And Anya Taylor-Joy went for a yellow Dior Haute Couture cape with a backless dress.
Jennifer Coolidge chose a navy cape-back Christian Siriano gown. Then there was Jean Smart, who wore a Ralph Lauren black gown with decolletage and arms cleverly covered with sheer netting and a turtleneck style.
Mj Rodriguez of Pose went for a turquoise one-shouldered Versace; Michaela Coel chose Christopher John Rogers in a bold yellow; and a third yellow gown appeared via Kaley Cuoco — a custom lemon Vera Wang with a flurry of DeBeers diamonds.
But the best jewellery award was split between two attendees. Cynthia Erivo wore a diamond choker, nose ring and fabulous ear cuffs, adding glitter to her custom Louis Vuitton white gown with a mermaid hem of white and blue and green feathers. Billy Porter, 51, meanwhile, accompanied a voluminous Ashi pleated cape over black turtleneck and high-waisted pants with fingers full of diamonds and bracelets.
Dan Levy brought the sartorial energy with a Valentino couture blue suit with a long, side-tie double layer jacket. Also busting blue was Cedric the Entertainer, who arrived in a smart two-tone bold blue double-breasted suit; in the customary manner of hosts, he changed often during the broadcast into an array of glittering styles.
Canadian-born stylist Brad Goreski, 44, who hosted the E! Network pre-show red carpet chat show alongside Real Housewife Lisa Rinna, 58, wore a frill-necked shirt under a Celine pinstripe suit.
Josh O’Connor’s Loewe tux featured a rose at the neck in place of a tie. And true to his Ted Lasso character, Jason Sudeikis chose a blue velvet wide-lapelled tux with an oversized black velvet tie, all by Tom Ford.
And dialling in from England, some of the cast of The Crown really gave it a fashion whirl: Emma Corrin in a cream Miu Miu strapless outfit with gloves (and nails) and a cap; Olivia Coleman rocked a Roksanda cape dress with orange on top and black on bottom; and Gillian Anderson wore custom Chloe with an uncharacteristically bold peek-a-boo belly cutout and dangling hardware.