On the night of Sunday, September 19, cable and network television sunk deeper into their coffins, as the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards marked yet another sign of streaming’s commercial and artistic domination. For the first time ever, Netflix has won more Emmys than any other network or platform, with 44 total awards in 2021.
The 2021 Emmys took place at the L.A. Live entertainment complex in Los Angeles and was broadcast nationwide on CBS. The show attracted 7.4 million viewers, not a particularly impressive amount, but still a 16% increase from last year’s record low of 6.3 million viewers.
Cedric the Entertainer hosted the show, and started out the night with a lively television-themed parody of Biz Markie’s song “Just a Friend.” The rest of the show could not maintain the energy of the opening, as the jokes made by award presenters fell flat and speeches made by award winners dragged on.
Almost everyone present at the ceremony was unmasked, making for a much different experience than other award ceremonies earlier this year. This could be seen as a positive, signaling a return to pre-COVID life. However, most of the online reactions to the masklessness have been negative, for numerous reasons. For example, some have lamented the class implications of Hollywood stars parading around maskless and hugging each other, while surrounded by masked staff. Others have complained about the hypocrisy of celebrities defending the persistence of COVID-19 restrictions while partaking in massive, restriction-less indoor gatherings. While presenting the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy, Seth Rogen jokingly commented on the matter, “Let me start by saying: there are way too many of us in this little room. They said this was outdoors. It’s not. I would not have come to this … This is insane. I went from wiping my groceries to having Paul Bettany sneeze in my face.”
The biggest winner of the night was the Netflix series “The Crown.” This past season of “The Crown” was a particularly attention-grabbing one, since it features Diana, Princess of Wales as a character. Princess Diana was an icon in popular culture ever since she entered the royal family, but in 2021, 24 years after her death, it seems that there is extra focus on her, with the film “Spencer” about the Princess on its way to theaters this fall.
“The Crown” won all seven drama categories, becoming the first show to sweep the major drama categories at the Emmys. The awards included Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Olivia Colman’s role as Queen Elizabeth II and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Josh O’Connor’s role as Prince Charles.
The Apple TV+ comedy “Ted Lasso” also had a big night. “Ted Lasso” follows American college football coach Ted Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis, as he tries to coach an English soccer team. The show won Outstanding Comedy Series, and Sudeikis took home the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.
The winner of Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) went to “Hamilton” on Disney Plus, raising questions about the fairness of awarding the filming of a musical that has been performed since 2015 over a variety of original programming.
Some shows unexpectedly left the night totally or nearly empty-handed. Most notably, Hulu drama “The Handmaid’s Tale” starring Elisabeth Moss received 21 nominations, but ended up with zero wins. This marked a new record for the largest awards shutout in Emmy history, beating the previous record set in 2012 by “Mad Men,” another drama starring Moss, which had 17 nominations and zero wins that year. The Marvel miniseries “WandaVision” received a whopping 23 nominations, the third most of any series, but only won three Creative Arts Emmys for technical achievements, awards which weren’t televised on the Sunday night broadcast.
The night was one to remember for Villanova University. “Mare of Easttown” is an HBO crime drama miniseries starring Kate Winsley that aired back in March and April of this year. The series was written by Villanova graduate Brad Ingelsby and set in Chester County, Pennsylvania, just a few miles from campus.
“Mare of Easttown,” which was nominated for 16 awards, won three on Monday night, nearly sweeping the Limited Series acting categories. Kate Winslet won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, Julianne Nicholson won Outstanding Supporting Actress and Evan Peters won Outstanding Supporting Actor. Ingelsby himself was nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, but came out behind Michaela Coel, writer of HBO’s “I May Destroy You,” and the overall winner for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series was the Netflix 1960s chess-themed hit “The Queen’s Gambit.” Still, “Mare of Easttown” was one of the big winners of the night.
Between the 2021 Emmy wins of “Mare of Easttown” and the Best Documentary Short Subject victory of the film “Colette” by Villanova graduate Michael Giacchino at the 2021 Oscars, this year has clearly been a big one for Wildcats in the entertainment industry.