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Television

‘Fleabag’ upsets ‘Veep’ for best comedy Emmy, capping dominant night

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Fleabag cast
Phoebe Waller-Bridge and fellow cast and crew members of “Fleabag” accept the Outstanding Comedy Series award.
(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Break out your black jumpsuit and head to the local guinea pig cafe to celebrate, because “Fleabag” is this year’s big winner at the Emmys.

In a surprise for a category known for repeat winners, the Amazon series won the Emmy for comedy series, beating the final season of three-time victor “Veep” (HBO) and defending champ “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon), which had been considered favorites.

Other comedy series nominees included “Russian Doll” (Netflix), “The Good Place” (NBC), “Barry” (HBO) and “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV).

The comedy series Emmy capped off what amounted to a three-hour “Fleabag” lovefest. The series picked up six Emmys in total this year, including wins on Sunday for directing and writing for a comedy series. Star and creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge also won lead actress in a comedy series, scoring a stunning upset victory over Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who had been favored to win for the final season of “Veep.”

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“This is just getting ridiculous,” said Waller-Bridge, accepting the comedy series prize.

In the bittersweet comedy, adapted from Waller-Bridge’s one-woman stage show, she stars as a young London woman, never named but identified in the credits as Fleabag, who narrates her wild bedroom exploits directly to the audience and uses outrageous humor to disguise profound grief.

The series received widespread acclaim but zero Emmy nominations for its first season in 2016. Returning after a three-year break this spring, “Fleabag” somehow fared even better with critics in Season 2, which introduced an unexpectedly poignant relationship between Fleabag and a handsome Catholic priest played by Andrew Scott. It also included a memorable conversation about menopause, a candid portrayal of miscarriage and one of television’s most hilariously bad haircuts.

And no, multiple Emmy winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge did not sleep with a hot priest as inspiration for the series’ acclaimed second season.

Along with seemingly everyone on Twitter, the TV academy fell hard for “Fleabag” this year, nominating the series for 11 Emmys in its second go-around; five of the nominations went to actresses in the ensemble.

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Ironically, Scott was one of the few cast members not to be nominated.

But Waller-Bridge acknowledged his contributions to the series. “Season 2 would not have happened or exploded in the way that it did if it was not for Andrew Scott who came into our ‘Fleabag’ world like a whirlwind and gave a performance of such depth and complexity that just elevated the whole thing.”

While “Fleabag’s” victory over “Veep” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” for comedy series counted as a significant upset, Waller-Bridge’s win over Louis-Dreyfus, a six-time winner for “Veep,” was easily the night’s biggest shocker. Having returned to the role following treatment for cancer, Louis-Dreyfus was widely expected to go out on top.

From a dominant night for Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag” to historic wins by Billy Porter and Jharrel Jerome, daring television prevailed at the 2019 Emmys.

Waller-Bridge also picked up an Emmy for comedy series writing for the Season 2 premiere, which revolved around a messy family dinner. “It’s just really wonderful to know and reassuring that a dirty, pervy, angry, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys, so thank you so much,” Waller-Bridge said.

Series director Harry Bradbeer also won an Emmy for directing the episode and thanked Waller-Bridge for “coming into my life like some kind of glorious grenade.”

The series already won two awards at last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys, for casting for a comedy series and single-camera picture editing for a comedy series.

Keep tabs on all the winners at the 71st Primetime Emmys with our live-updating list.

Waller-Bridge’s golden touch also lifted other shows Sunday night. Jodie Comer won for actress in a drama series for her performance in “Killing Eve” (BBC America), an unconventional spy thriller adapted by Waller-Bridge from novels by Luke Jennings. Her costar Sandra Oh was also nominated.

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There’s good news for next year’s comedy contenders, though: Waller-Bridge, who recently polished the script for the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die,” has insisted “Fleabag” will not be back for a third season.


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