Emmys 2021: 'Ted Lasso' Gets Top Comedy, 'The Crown' Named Best Drama, 'The Queen's Gambit' Best Limited Series

Jason Sudeikis from 'Ted Lasso' appears at the 73RD EMMY AWARDS, broadcast Sunday, Sept. 19
Jason Sudeikis of 'Ted Lasso' on stage at the 73rd Emmy Awards. (Image credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS)

Cedric the Entertainer took the stage as the 73rd Emmy Awards host on CBS, rapping about the merits of television, with assists from LL Cool J, Lil Dicky and Rita Wilson. “TV, you got what I need,” went the chorus, a riff on the late Biz Markie’s “Just A Friend,” as the crowd sang along. 

Seth Rogen gave out the trophy for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy to Hannah Waddingham of Ted Lasso on Apple TV Plus

“Jason, you’ve changed my life with this, and more importantly my baby girl’s,“ she said to Jason Sudeikis. “I’m so privileged to work with you.”

Saluting the producers and writers, she added, “You don’t realize how wonderful you are.”

Yara Shahidi of grown-ish gave out the prize for supporting actor in a comedy, with Brett Goldstein of Ted Lasso getting the trophy.  

“I was very specifically told not to swear,” he said before a series of bleeps. “This cast makes me sick, they’re so good,” he added.

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Billy Porter and MJ Rodriguez gave out the award for best supporting actress in a limited series or movie. Julianne Nicholson of HBO’s Mare of Easttown got the award. She saluted creator Brad Inglesby for his deft hand in detailing “the bonds between women” and series star Kate Winslet.

“Man, you’re good at acting,” she said of Winslet. “But it turns out you’re good at caring for a whole production. I owe this to you."

Nicholson mentioned “all the ladies out there in Philadelphia and Kabul and Texas” who are finding themselves struggling to be heard. 

Vanessa Lachey and Wilmer Valderrama from the NCIS franchise gave out best supporting actor in a limited series or movie. Evan Peters of Mare of Easttown was named. 

“I gotta thank my mom and dad for getting me out to L.A.,” he said. “You guys were crazy to do that, but we’re gonna drink tonight.”

Peters thanked “Kate Winslet for BEING KATE WINSLET!” 

Mindy Kaling came out to award the best writing in a drama prize. Peter Morgan of Netflix’s The Crown won. From London, he said, “I’m very proud, I’m very grateful, we’re gonna party. Good night!”

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Best director on a drama was singled out by America Ferrara. Jessica Hobbs of The Crown got the honor. Also in London, she credited “the brilliant and generous” Peter Morgan. 

“Not a lot of women have won this award so I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of really extraordinary women,” she added. 

Stephen Colbert came out to “Sympathy for the Devil” and awarded the outstanding supporting actress in a drama award. Gillian Anderson, who plays Margaret Thatcher on The Crown, won. She thanked agent Connie Freiberg, “who believed in me when no one else would...Connie, I love you! This is for you.”

Kerry Washington mentioned Michael K. Williams, who died earlier this month, calling him “a brilliantly talented actor and a generous human being who left us far too soon.”

Washington named Tobias Menzies of The Crown for best supporting actor in a drama. Menzies was not in attendance. 

Daniel Dae Kim and Sophia Bush gave out the trophy for outstanding writing in a variety series to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO. Producers Tim Carvell and Liz Stanton were singled out, and the writers dedicated the award to Adam Driver. “He knows what he did and we know what we’d like him to do,” said one writer. 

Kaley Cuoco of The Flight Attendant named the best variety talk series, which also went to Last Week Tonight. “Like many of us in this room, I was kind of rooting for Conan, so this is bittersweet,” said Oliver. 

Oliver saluted the late Norm Macdonald. “No one was funnier in the last 20 years in late-night comedy than Norm Macdonald,” said Oliver, urging viewers to watch him on YouTube. 

Ken Jeong of The Masked Singer named the winner for best variety sketch series. It was NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Lorne Michaels detailed the show getting back to work amid the COVID pandemic in front of a small audience of first responders. “Fatigue soon turned to exhilaration and we went to work,” he said, as things got back to relatively normal. 

He also saluted Norm Macdonald, who hosted "Weekend Update" on SNL. “One of the best we ever had,” said Michaels. 

The Schitt’s Creek cast, Dan Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Annie Murphy and Eugene Levy, came out to award best writing in a comedy series. HBO Max’s Hacks won. Creators Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky claimed the prize. Downs mentioned the show’s “incredible cast,” including Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder. Aniello saluted “anyone who struggles to tell their story.”

The Schitt’s Creek bunch stayed out to give out best directing in a comedy. Lucia Aniello of Hacks won. An emotional Aniello thanked Smart and Einbinder “for giving so much of themselves to these characters. We were so lucky to experience your love every day.” 

Bowen Yang named the outstanding actress in a comedy. Jean Smart of Hacks won, as the room rose to its feet. She thanked her late husband Richard Gilliland, who passed away in March. 

Hacks has been such a thrill,” she said, citing creators Statsky, Downs and Aniello. “I read this and said, I have to do this. It checked off every box.” 

Jennifer Coolidge of The White Lotus named the outstanding actor in a comedy. Jason Sudeikis won. He said the show is about family, mentors and teammates, and thanked, among others, his parents, Lorne Michaels, and Lasso executive producers Bill Lawrence, Joe Kelly and Brendan Hunt. 

“I wouldn’t be here without those three things,” said Sudeikis. 

Outstanding competition program was given out by Allyson Felix and Jessica Longwent. RuPaul’s Drag Race on VH1 won. 

“Thanks to all of our lovely children on our show from around the world,” said RuPaul. “They are so gracious to tell their stories of courage and how to navigate this difficult life.”

Frank Scherma, president of RadicalMedia and the CEO of the Television Academy, gave out the Governor’s Award to Debbie Allen. “I’d like to have the title of your biggest admirer but I know I’d have a lot of competition in that category,” said Ava DuVernay in a video.

“Thank you for this glorious moment in the sun,” Allen said, then instructed producers to turn the time countdown clock off. 

“Let this moment resonate with women across the country and around the world,” she said, urging women to “claim your power, claim your voice, sing your song, tell your story.”

Paulina Alexis, Lane Factor, Sterlin Harjo, Devery Jacobs and D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai of FX on Hulu’s Reservation Dogs awarded outstanding directing for a limited series or movie. Scott Frank of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit won.

He described the series as about “a girl addicted to chess, alcohol, pills and wallpaper.” 

Frank said, “A film crew is a family borne out of a shotgun wedding.” 

Frank’s speech went on long enough that the wrap-it-up music came on three times. He singled out star Anya Taylor-Joy. “You set a lovely tone,” he said. “That’s a lot of pressure and no easy feat.” 

Sir Patrick Stewart opened the envelope for writing for a limited series or movie. Michaela Coel of HBO’s I May Destroy You won. 

“Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain,” she said. 

She thanked HBO for “the two best years of my life” and offered solace for victims of sexual assault. 

Beanie Feldstein and Sarah Paulson of American Crime Story on FX saluted outstanding lead actress in a limited series. Kate Winslet of Mare of Easttown won. Winslet saluted the other nominees and mentioned “women having each other’s backs. I support you, I salute you, I’m proud of all of you.”

She called Mare “a cultural moment” that gave viewers “something to talk about other than a global pandemic.”

Winslet also singled out creator Brad Inglesby. “This is you,” she said. “This is all you.”

Taraji P. Henson, who will be in NBC production Annie Live!, named the outstanding actor in a limited series. Ewan MacGregor of Netflix’s Halston won. 

“It’s quite difficult going after you, Kate,” he said to Winslet. 

McGregor thanked the show’s crew for keeping the cast safe during the pandemic. 

Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross of black-ish came out to award top lead actress in a drama. Olivia Colman of The Crown won. In London, an emotional Colman said, “what a lovely end to this extraordinary journey with this lovely family.”

Catherine Zeta-Jones was next to award the top actor in a drama. Josh O’Connor of The Crown got the honor. 

“Making The Crown has been the most rewarding two years of my life,” he said. 

O’Connor played Prince Charles and Emma Corrin played Diana. He called Corrin “a force of nature.” 

Aidy Bryant of Shrill gave out the trophy for variety special, live. Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020 on Showtime won. 

“I accept this Emmy on behalf of everyone who works on The Late Show,” Colbert said. “I’m so proud to be one of them.”

Conan O’Brien snuck up onstage and hugged the Colbert crew. “These people behind me, most of the people behind me,” said Colbert, “really deserve this Emmy right now.”

Amy Poehler came out next to award best variety special, recorded. Hamilton on Disney Plus won. Producers noted “the synergy between the mediums of television and the theater” that the project represented, and television’s role in bringing people together when they were otherwise separated due to the pandemic, and could not go to the theater. 

Awkwafina of Nora From Queens came out to award best comedy. Black-ish, Cobra Kai, Emily in Paris, The Flight Attendant, Hacks, The Kominsky Method, Pen15 and Ted Lasso were in the running. Ted Lasso won. 

Bill Lawrence thanked Warner Bros., Apple and the show’s “amazing cast, crew and writing staff,” and “our fearless leader, Jason Sudeikis.”

“The biggest thank you from this group is to the people who watched,” he added. 

Best drama was between The Boys, Bridgerton, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, Lovecraft Country, The Mandalorian, Pose and This Is Us. Adrien Brody gave out the award to The Crown.

Peter Morgan thanked “this lot” in the room with him in London. 

“We’re gonna have a party now,” he added. “I’m lost for words and I’m very, very grateful.”

Angela Bassett came out for the final award, for top limited series. I May Destroy You, Mare of Easttown, The Queen’s Gambit, The Underground Railroad and WandaVision were on the list. The Queen’s Gambit won. Exec producer William Horberg thanked fans for using word of mouth to build buzz for the quirky show, and Netflix for taking a chance on risky material. 

He said of star Anya Taylor-Joy, “What can I say, you brought the sexy back to chess.” 

Horberg added, “Patriarchy simply has no defense against our queens.”

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.