The Emmys make it a night of royalty with ‘Queen’s Gambit,’ ‘The Crown’ wins

A man speaks into a microphone as a woman stands on stage beside him.
In this video grab issued Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, by the Television Academy, Josh O’Connor accepts the award for outstanding lead actor in a drama series for “The Crown” during the Emmy Awards.

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards are upon us. We’ve scoped out the set design, made our predictions, and warmed up our TVs (or live streaming apps, in the case of the cord-cutters). Now it’s time to settle in for the ceremony itself — and what would an awards show be without some shouts from the balcony? Keep it here throughout the night as awards columnist Glenn Whipp and staff writer Meredith Blake break down the best speeches, biggest upsets and other top stories of Sunday’s Emmys live.

Find out the winners of this year’s Emmys right here. We’ll be updating the list live throughout the show.

Sept. 19, 2021

8:25 p.m. I’m thankful that I didn’t expect too much of the Emmys, because that’s a sure path to disappointment. It’s like Lloyd Dobler said in “Say Anything”: If you start out depressed, everything’s kind of a pleasant surprise. I’m happy for Smart and Coel, and already counting down the days ‘til Coolidge wins her Emmy. —MB


And now Netflix has its second series Emmy. At least Scott Frank isn’t speaking. So that’s a wrap! There were some nice moments. The Leon Bridges, Jon Batiste performance of “River” during the in memoriam was beautiful. Aaaaand ... hmmm ... Jean Smart and Michaela Coel. That’s at least one nice thing for every hour of the show. What say you, Meredith? What are you thankful for, besides this live chat being nearly over? — GW

As everyone and their mum predicted, “The Crown” wins for drama series. It may have been an off year, without competition from other perennial heavy-hitters like “Succession,” but it’s still a historic moment for Netflix, which takes home its first Emmy in this category. It looks like all those partygoers in London — where it’s currently 4 in the morning — picked a good night to stay up. —MB

So much for that “Hacks” shocker. That was the nicest acceptance speech from co-creator Bill Lawrence, kind of appropriate given it’s “Ted Lasso.” —GW

8 p.m. In my mind Renée Elise Goldsberry — who gave a lovely speech about the return of Broadway after 18 dark months — was accepting that Emmy for “Girls5Eva.“ —MB

“Hamilton” is a filmed version of a stage performance, not a TV show. This winning over the virtuosic “Bo Burnham: Inside” might be the evening’s biggest travesty. — GW

Geez. First Menzies over Michael K. Williams and now Josh O’Connor over Billy Porter for the farewell season of “Pose.” Porter dug deeper with every year of that show. I knew “The Crown” would do well. But this is waaaaaaay over-the-top. Also: They picked the wrong actress. Corrin was robbed. The f— season was about Di, not the bleeding queen. — GW


Wow, Oscar-winner Olivia Colman wins another semi-surprising award for playing an English queen — this time for her turn as Queen Elizabeth. Most prognosticators thought Emma Corrin was a lock for portraying the young, bashful Princess Diana. Between “Mare,” “Hacks” and “The Crown,” It’s been a big year for women of a certain age. —MB

Let me say that I could watch a five-minute montage of Kathryn Hahn enjoying herself at the Emmys. — GW

7:30 p.m. That was the Emmy for best performance in the absolutely worst nominated show. — GW

I was really looking forward to a Hugh Grant acceptance speech — think of all the off-color murder jokes he would have made! — but I can’t really get mad about an Emmy for Ewan McGregor, the one crush from my teenage years that I still stand by. —MB

“All your actors have won stuff,” Kate Winslet to “Mare” creator Craig Zobel. So true. I mean, how do you not love the excitement she just showed with that speech. I AM THE WINNER!!! — GW

Michaela Coel said more in 30 seconds than Scott Frank said in, what, 30 minutes. — GW

It’s ok Glenn. I have some good news: Finally, an Emmy for “I May Destroy You,” a series that deserves all the praise it’s received and more. Michaela Coel is rightfully awarded for writing the series, a starkly personal and wildly inventive look at the aftermath of a sexual assault as well as an authentic portrayal of contemporary, multicultural London. —MB

“I dedicate this story to every single survivor of sexual assault,” said Coel — one of only a few people of color to win an Emmy tonight — in her acceptance speech. —MB

OK. Barry Jenkins really should have won. This speech is ... loooooooooooooooong. And he’s reading from a piece of paper. Even the person cuing the orchestra fell asleep. — GW

First, Barry Jenkins should have won for “The Underground Railroad.” Second, this directing win for “The Queen’s Gambit” could well be followed by a writing win ... and then maybe the series win. — GW

7 p.m. This Debbie Allen tribute for her Governors Award honor makes me wish the motion picture academy at least did a bit more to promote their governors awards winners on the televised Oscars ceremony. Right now, they’ve been shunted off in an untelevised evening. Who doesn’t love a good, deserved lifetime honor and subsequent standing ovation? Turn off the clock, Allen tells the show’s producers. Damn straight. Let her speak. She’s rolling. — GW

A win by “Hacks” over “Ted Lasso” would also be in line with what appears to be a clear recency bias by the Academy this year. See: the wins for “Mare of Easttown,” released this spring, over “I May Destroy You” which came out in 1985. Or, you know, last summer. —MB

Sorry, I’m still wiping away the tears from Jean Smart’s lovely speech. Jason Sudeikis won as expected for his lead turn in “Ted Lasso,” but I’m wondering now if “Hacks” could win the best comedy Emmy. That would be something. Never underestimate HBO and the appeal of a less traditional sitcom approach. I still think “Ted Lasso” will prevail. After all my complaining though, let me just say, thank you voters for expanding your pool of Emmy-worthy shows to ... what ... four ... five? — GW

Btw, Jennifer Coolidge is winning an Emmy next year for “The White Lotus.” — GW

6:39 p.m. PT: Make three in a row!

To no one’s surprise, Dame Jean Smart — sorry, I just gave her that title; deal with it — wins for her turn as Vegas comedian Deborah Vance in “Hacks.” After a standing ovation, she pays tribute to her husband, Richard Gilliland, who died in March. “I would not be here without him, without him putting his career on the back burner, so I could take advantage of all the opportunities I have had.” —MB

Just when things were getting super duper boring, “Hacks” slows “Ted Lasso’s” momentum by picking up two awards in a row — for writing and directing of a comedy series. The HBO Max comedy starring Prestige TV Queen Jean Smart was a critical darling and also evidently made an impression with Emmy voters as well. And maybe we shouldn’t be surprised; there’s nothing the industry loves more than stories about itself. —MB

Get those tissues ready! It’s about to happen! — GW

But “Hacks” had plenty to say — about aging, about being a woman in a man’s game, about empathy — that transcended showbiz. Series co-creator dedicated the writing prize to “women who never got to tell their stories at all, because the world wasn’t listening.” I’m getting my tissues ready when/if Smart — a treasure since her days on “Designing Women” — wins for actress. —MB

Oh! Wait! Some other show won a thing! “Hacks” for comedy writing! And they’re funny. What a refreshing change of pace on every level! — GW

The rubber-stamping of Emmy favorites is tedious. And it has me worried. As much as I enjoyed “Mare of Easttown,” if Michaela Coel doesn’t win something — anything! — for “I May Destroy You,” I will riot. —MB

Michael K. Williams poured everything he had into the characters he played, including the difficult, haunted Montrose on “Lovecraft Country.” Williams gave everything. No disrespect to Menzies, but these Emmys give me the impression that voters just watched a handful of shows -- “The Crown,” “Ted Lasso” and “Mare of Easttown.” Oh, and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” which won for the umpteenth time. And the mediocre “Saturday Night Live” ... again. The lack of imagination in voting is off-putting. And dull. — GW

Ugh. What else is there to say? We all love Tobias Menzies and I find his Prince Philip endearingly cranky — but even if this is some roundabout way to honor the late royal this is just deeply disappointing, especially after the Chadwick Boseman boondoggle at the Oscars. At least Kerry Washington paid tribute to Williams in her opening remarks. But Emmy voters clearly need to watch more TV and reconsider what constitutes an “important” performance. (Hint: It’s not just people playing monarchs.) —MB

6 p.m. PT: Oh dear. An Emmy isn’t going to bring back Michael K. Williams, but it would have been nice to see his legacy honored. And Tobias Menzies didn’t even show. It looks like voters pretty much watched “The Crown” and nothing else, even though they gave “Lovecraft Country” all those nominations. This is a bad look for the Television Academy. I might just log off now and watch an episode of “The Wire.” — GW

This Emmy was inevitable -- transformative turn, BIG accent, Thatcher. Arguably a better Margaret Thatcher than Meryl Streep’s showboating in “The Iron Lady.” So, yes, Gillian Anderson deserves that Emmy. (And, no, Streep did not merit that Oscar. Glenn Close could have won that year!) — GW

After back-to-back victories for the modest folks of “Easttown,” the Windsors are now on a roll. “The Crown” wins both writing and directing for a drama series for the Season 4 finale, “War.” From a swanky club somewhere in London, no doubt sleepy creator Peter Morgan thanked his intrepid research team while director Jessica Hobbs paid tribute to fellow women directors. Seems bound to be a big night for “The Crown.” —MB

Yeah, so far this ceremony feels reminiscent of last year when three shows -- “Schitt’s Creek,” “Watchmen” and “Succession” -- dominated their categories. Right now, “Ted Lasso” and “Mare of Easttown” are 2 for 2. And “The Crown” lurks once drama awards begin. Not exactly the kind of thing that keeps you on the edge of your seat. — GW

Evan Peters wins for supporting actor in a limited series, making “Mare of Easttown” 2 for 2. Go Ladyhawks! Thanks to multiple nominees for “Hamilton” — neither a movie nor a limited series — that category was an odd one but Peters’ vulnerable performance as the sweet, doomed detective Colin Zabel clearly stood out. I hope he celebrates the win with a great big hoagie. Or should I say hewgie? —MB

5:30 p.m. PT: You can win an Emmy basically for just one scene? Nicholson’s climactic catharsis in “Mare of Easttown” was so devastating in the final minutes of that final episode that it clearly stuck with voters. Might this mean “Mare” will win limited series? Stay tuned. — GW

Cedric the Entertainer did a funny bit about the vaccines but as the self-appointed Anthony Fauci of this chat I have to point out that Moderna is actually the bougie vaccine while Pfizer is the Macy’s? —MB

That opening ... who would have guessed? The first two awards? It looks like a REALLY big evening for “Ted Lasso,” though it can’t equal the “Schitt’s Creek” run last year as “Lasso” doesn’t have a lead actress. But Brett Goldstein winning? That’s a product of him owning the second season, currently airing. — GW

Well that started off in utterly predictable fashion— with a rapping Rita Wilson! I kid, I kid! That whole opening bit was delightfully unexpected and a nice way to pay tribute to the late, great Biz Markie. I appreciated the appearance by Lil Dicky from “Dave” even if Michael Douglas clearly had no idea what was going on. —MB

I think I just saw more CBS programming in that intro than I’ve watched in the past year. — GW

Dolly won an Emmy for her TV movie! You’re already in a celebratory mood! — GW

Hi Glenn! I hope you’re feeling all the feels after your big milestone weekend — what a perfect emotional prelude to a night when “Ted Lasso” is probably going to win a kajillion (est.) awards. My weekend was much more mundane but I’m also quite looking forward to a normal-ish level of spectacle after a year of glorified Zoom sessions and whatever that Oscars ceremony was. Bring on all those double-vaxxed celebs in beaded gowns!! Speaking of fashion, I am wearing my finest Gap joggers and a Dollywood t-shirt, thanks for asking. —MB

Hello Emmy watchers! I’m Glenn Whipp, awards columnist for The Times. As the red carpet is ongoing, you’re probably wondering what I’m wearing. Well ... I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve. I just dropped my son off at college in the Pacific Northwest this morning and flew in from Seattle just so I could watch “Ted Lasso” and “The Crown” win countless Emmys, some deserved, some not. And to talk to my good friend, Meredith Blake, for the next three hours. Meredith ... how are you feeling heading into the show? — GW