Emmys 2021: Missed the show? Here are 7 must-see moments to catch up on

Three men and a woman sing and dance in front of an audience
Lil Dicky, left, Cedric the Entertainer, Rita Wilson and LL Cool J help kick off the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards.
(Cliff Lipson / CBS via Getty Images)

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards — a.k.a. Hollywood’s latest super-spreader event — took place Sunday evening in Los Angeles. Didn’t know that? You weren’t alone. And this story is for you.

Droves of television’s brightest stars gathered at the Event Deck at L.A. Live in what presenter Seth Rogen referred to as “a hermetically sealed tent” to celebrate the best TV offerings of the past year.

The show was a far cry from last year’s semi-virtual soirée, and it was a big night for Netflix’s “The Crown” and “The Queen’s Gambit” and Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso.”


But there’s more to it than just the winners. Here’s a look at some must-see moments from the telecast:

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

Sept. 19, 2021

The opening monologue-slash-Biz Markie tribute

The evening’s host, Cedric the Entertainer, dismissed expectations of a subdued “Emmys lite” awards show by turning the show’s opening monologue into an unexpected rap sing-along that saluted television via a cover of late rapper Biz Markie’s jubilant hit “Just a Friend.”

LLCool J and Lil Dicky, as well as COVID-19 rapper Rita Wilson, joined in for the opener. The “Hamilton” cast and “Pose” stars sang along to the reinvented tune, while Kaley Cuoco and Michael Douglas danced to the beat.

John Oliver salutes Norm Macdonald and Conan O’Brien

John Oliver holds an Emmy statuette in each hand.
“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” won the Emmy for variety talk series.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision/Associated Press)

Coming off back-to-back wins, perennial talk-series winner John Oliver humbly shared his award with fellow nominated late-night host Conan O’Brien, whose own show went off the air this season.


“I think like many of us in this room, I was kind of rooting for Conan,” Oliver said. “So this is bittersweet. Thank you so much, Conan, for 30 years of inspiring comedy writers.”

Oliver was among many of the evening’s honorees to pay tribute to comedy legend Norm Macdonald, who died last week after a private nine-year battle with cancer.

“I just want to say this is an award for late-night comedy,” he added. “No one was funnier in the last 20 years than Norm Macdonald on late-night comedy, so if, if you have any time in the next week, do what I did and just spend time YouTubing clips of Norm and Conan because it just doesn’t get better than that.”

Macdonald also was name-checked moments later when “Saturday Night Live” executive producer Lorne Michaels paid tribute to the late “Weekend Update” host, hailing Macdonald “one of the best we ever had.”

Jason Sudeikis dumps on Lorne Michaels

Jason Sudeikis
Jason Sudeikis accepts the award for lead actor in a comedy series for “Ted Lasso” during Sunday’s Primetime Emmy Awards.
(Television Academy / Associated Press)

While accepting his Emmy Award for lead actor in a comedy series, “Ted Lasso” star and co-writer Jason Sudeikis delivered a heartfelt speech thanking his parents, mentors and teachers and show teammates.


But it was the “Saturday Night Live” alum’s callout of Michaels that made his speech particularly memorable,

“I want to thank folks at ‘SNL.’ I want to thank Lorne [Michaels], who went to go take a dump now, perfect,” Sudeikis quipped. “He’s gonna get home, he’s gonna watch it — he loves watching the Emmys at home. It’s fine, it’s fine. Which home is the big question.”

A ‘Schitt’s Creek’ reunion we didn’t know we needed

Two women flanked by two men onstage
Members of the “Schitt’s Creek” cast presented awards Sunday.
(Television Academy / Associated Press)

“Schitt’s Creek” stars Dan Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Annie Murphy and Eugene Levy won big last year but were hanging out at a remote viewing party in Canada to celebrate. So it was a welcome sight to see the group onstage Sunday night with the feel-good levity fans of their comedy series grew to love. As usual, the laughs came at the expense of the elder Levy, who apparently told show writers to “lift” the lines for their bit — a task they seemingly took literally, leaving the group to improvise without a teleprompter.

The No Emmys Support Group

In a prerecorded bit, Cedric the Entertainer moderated a mock group-therapy session for TV stars Scott Bakula, Alyson Hannigan, Jason Alexander, Zooey Deschanel, Fred Savage and Dr. Phil. The actors commiserated over the fact that, despite their ubiquity, they had never won a Primetime Emmy.


“I’ve been nominated eight times. Seven consecutive times for playing George Costanza. ... I lost all those seven times. I want my Emmy,” Alexander asserted before getting in a play fight with Bakula.

“So, I haven’t won an Emmy, but you know what? My generation isn’t into awards. We’re all deserving of love and respect,” Deschanel explained in an effort to enlighten the room, before adding, “But also, where’s my f— Emmy?!”

Debbie Allen’s banner year continues

A woman in a bright red dress points at an audience
Debbie Allen accepts the Governors Award at the 73rd Primetime Emmys.
(Television Academy / Associated Press)

Dance pioneer Debbie Allen, this year’s recipient of the Television Academy’s Governors Award, continued her banner year after taking home a 2021 Kennedy Center Honor in January. Allen capitalized on the TV moment Sunday with a powerful message for women, and had no problem delivering it while shooing away the time constraints for her speech. (And she did it so much more charmingly than the voluble writer-producer Scott Frank of “The Queen’s Gambit.”)

“Let this moment resonate with women across this country and across the world, from Texas to Afghanistan,” she said. “Let them know — and also with young people, who would have no vote, who can’t even get a vaccine; they’re inheriting the world that we leave them — it is time for you to claim your power, claim your voice, sing your song, tell your stories. It will make us a better place. Your turn.”

Michaela Coel’s advice to writers

Michaela Coel
Michaela Coel accepts the award for writing for a limited or anthology series or movie for “I May Destroy You” at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards.
(Phil McCarten / Invision/Associated Press)

“I May Destroy You” actor, writer, producer and director Michaela Coel capped her first Emmy win with “a little something for writers.”

“Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable,” she said during her acceptance speech for writing. “I dare you — in a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success — do not be afraid to disappear from it, from us for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence. ... I dedicate this story to every single survivor of sexual assault.”