'Game of Thrones' Gets Top Drama Emmy, 'Fleabag' Gets Top Comedy

Homer Simpson was introduced as the host of the 2019 Emmys, and his animated form strutted onstage. He called his appearance “my impossible dream,” before falling through the stage floor, felled by a piano.

Anthony Anderson of black-ish showed shock in the audience, and was brought up to fill in.

“I will get this show back on track!” he yelled.

He was prepped backstage, and pocketed a few Emmys trophies.

Related: Emmys: HBO Wins a Bunch, and So Does Amazon

Bryan Cranston then stepped onstage and spoke about television’s advances over the decades. “TV still transports us,” he said, talking about Winterfell, and the Upside Down, and “even paradise” as he saluted The Bachelor.

“Television has never been bigger,” he added. “Television has never mattered more. And television has never been this damn good.”

Ben Stiller then stepped onstage to give out the best supporting actor in a comedy prize. He walked through a history of comedy, with wax statues of George Burns and Lucille Ball, and a very much alive Bob Newhart.

“What would Bob think today if he could see how the rules had changed?” said Stiller.

“Ben! Ben! Ben! Ben! I’m still alive!” howled Newhart. “You put me with George and Lucy in this weird wax museum of comedy!”

Tony Shalhoub got the Emmy for supporting actor his work in Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

“It takes a village,” he said, before singling out Amy Sherman Palladino and Daniel Palladino several times.

“A special shout-out to my dear friends Amy and Dan for their support,” he concluded. 

Amy Poehler and Catherine O’Hara gave out the best supporting actress in a comedy trophy, with went to Alex Borstein of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

“I wanna dedicate this to the strength of women,” she said, singling out creator Amy Sherman Palladino, her mother and her grandmother.

“Step out of line, ladies. Step out of line!” Borstein added.

Nick Cannon and Ken Jeong of Fox’s The Masked Singer then stepped to the podium. The writing for a comedy prize went to Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Amazon’s Fleabag.

“I find writing really really hard and really painful. The reason that I do it is thiiiiss,” she said, raising her Emmy. “It’s made it all really worth it.”

Waller-Bridge saluted the fact that “a dirty, pervy, angry, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys.”

Lilly Singh, host of new NBC late-night show A Little Late With Lilly Singh, introduced Jane Lynch and Luke Kirby, guest actors on Mrs. Maisel. They gave out the award for directing in a comedy to Harry Bradbeer of Fleabag. He spoke of “a perfect storm of support and trust” on Fleabag.

Of Waller-Bridge, he said, “Thank you for coming into my life.”

Maya Rudolph and Ike Barinholtz of new Fox comedy Bless the Harts were out next to present the Emmy for lead actor in a comedy. Bill Hader of HBO’s Barry got the prize.

He spoke about the challenge of directing himself on Barry, and mentioned asking co-creator Alec Berg for his take on scenes. Quipping about Berg’s deadpan responses, Hader said, “I wanna thank you for molding my performance, Alec. I don’t know where I’d be without you.”

Late night stars Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel were out next, busting on Fox’s host-free broadcast.

“You know who has a host? Applebee’s has a host,” said Kimmel.

“You know who else didn’t have a host? The Titanic,” said Colbert. “And look what happened to them.”

Representing the past hosts’ worst nightmare, Amazon’s Alexa then presented best actress in a comedy. It was Waller-Bridge.

“I find acting really hard and really painful,” she quipped, echoing her previous speech. “But it’s all about this.”

She said she’s “so supported on the show. It’s sickening how much we love each other.”

Thomas Lennon provided voice-over quips on the Emmys telecast.

Reality stars Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner gave out the outstanding competition program Emmy to RuPaul’s Drag Race on VH1.

“We are so happy for all the gorgeous kids who come on and show how fabulous they are!” said RuPaul, who encouraged viewers to register to vote. 

Tim Allen of Fox’s Last Man Standing came out next. “Who better than a comedian to talk seriously about the integrity of the Emmy vote counting?” he quipped, before saluting the Ernst and Young accountants who do that job.

Then it was Seth Meyers of NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. He saluted Game of Thrones. The HBO dragon drama “set the standard for storytelling and it will be missed,” he said.

After a series of Thrones clips, the cast came out. The crowd stood and went nuts.

The cast awarded supporting actress in a limited series or movie to Patricia Arquette from Hulu drama The Act.

“It’s official, Patricia Arquette goes to the Emmy stage more than she goes to Trader Joe’s,” joked Lennon.

“I’m grateful at 50 to be getting the best parts of my life,” she said. Arquette added that she’s in mourning every day for the loss of her sister Alexis.

RuPaul and Zendaya gave out the prize for directing for a limited series or movie. That went to Johan Renck of HBO’s Chernobyl.

Renck mentioned Waller-Bridge talking up her Fleabag family. “My family’s better than your family, OK?” he joked. 

Waller-Bridge and Hader were up next to give out supporting actor in a limited series. Ben Wishaw of Amazon’s A Very English Scandal won. He copped to having a hangover, then thanked Stephen Frears for being “a wonderful director.”

He singled out castmate Hugh Grant and writer Russell T. Davies, his agents, and his partner Mark for keeping him “somewhat sane.”

Perfect Harmony’s Bradley Whitford and Bluff City Law’s Jimmy Smits gave out the writing in a limited series or movie award. Both were on The West Wing together, and front new NBC shows this coming week. “We still look exactly the same,” said Whitford.

The Emmy went to Craig Mazin of HBO’s Chernobyl.

“More like Craig A-Mazin,” said Lennon.

Mazin thanked five women, including producer Carolyn Strauss and his wife, and Johan Renck. “You could not ask for a better writer and director,” he said.

9-1-1 stars Peter Krause and Angela Bassett gave out the prize for best actor in a limited series or movie.

An emotional Jharrel Jerome of Netflix’s When They See Us thanked his “beautiful mother” and his father. To creator Ava Duvernay, he said, “thank you for giving me this opportunity.”

Jerome also saluted “the men we know as the Exonerated 5.”

James Corden, host of Late Late Show on CBS, gave out the trophy for outstanding television movie. Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch got the Emmy.

“Being British, we were conditioned for 52% of you to vote for Brexit,” creator Charlie Brooker joked.

Hugh Lawrie delivered what he called “the requiem” for HBO’s Veep. “I would like to salute the writers, led by Armando Iannucci and David Mandel, probably the greatest cast ever assembled in peace time,” and star Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Louis-Dreyfus and the cast came out. She quoted Winston Churchill, saying, “Politics was like being married to a two-headed...I’m sorry. I was told I would be up here alone.”

I was the veep,” she added.

Louis-Dreyfus presented lead actress in a limited series or movie. Michelle Williams of FX’s Fosse/Verdon won. Williams said she heard nothing but yes’s when she asked the network, and studio, for things like dance lessons to help her do her job better. She also thanked them for “paying me equally,” and urged studios and networks to pay women of color fairly. They will then succeed “because of her workplace environment, and not in spite of it.”

Naomi Watts and Jon Hamm were out next to salute best limited series. Chernobyl won.

Mazin called it “an incredible honor.” He thanked the country of Lithuania for “letting us into their home” and giving “so much of themselves to us” as they made the series. He said he hoped the series showed the value of “the truth.”

“We can make stories be known permanently,” added Mazin of good television’s power. 

Lin Manuel Miranda gave out the Emmy for outstanding writing in a variety series. It went to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO. The prize was “finally bringing some prestige” to HBO, joked Lennon.

Writer Seena Vali said, “We share this with every single person in every department on the show,” and with office dog Bruce for “having big floppy ears and letting the staff give him belly rubs,” and “for producing piece on the Senate filibuster.”

Randall Park of Fresh Off the Boat and Anthony Anderson of Black-ish were out next for variety sketch series. Saturday Night Live on NBC won.

“This means a lot,” said executive producer Lorne Michaels.

He said the show SNL submitted was hosted by Adam Sandler. It featured a tribute to Chris Farley, who died in 1997. “It’s rare that you see a camera man tear up or a boom crew crying,” Michaels said, adding that it’s moments like that that keeps SNL moving forward. 

Cedric the Entertainer and Max Greenfield of CBS comedy The Neighborhood gave out the Emmy for directing in a variety series. Don Roy King of Saturday Night Live won.

He credited his daughter, who keeps him laughing, and Lorne Michaels, who keeps him “employed.”

Billy Porter of Pose awarded top variety talk show series to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Oliver came onstage to claim the trophy. “I feel significantly less glamorous standing next to you, Billy,” he said.

Oliver thanked Game of Thrones “for the lead-in over the years.”

Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson of Fox’s Empire saluted the shows going off the air, including Jane the Virgin and Broad City

Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy, was out next. He called TV “a short cut to understanding each other” a little better.

“Television has the power to bring out the best in us, he said of the “platinum age” of TV.

Viola Davis of How to Get Away With Murder on ABC gave out the award for top supporting actor in a drama. The Emmy went to Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones.

“I count myself so fortunate to be a member of a community that’s all about tolerance and diversity, because no other place could I be standing on a stage like this,” he said.

Dinklage said he had no idea what he was getting himself into ten years ago when he came on board at Game. “We did nothing but sweat. We did nothing but laugh. Dave and Dan, we literally walked through fire and ice for you. And I would do it all again in a heartbeat.”

Cherry Jones of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale gave out the award for writing for a drama series. That went to Jesse Armstrong of HBO’s Succession.

Armstrong noted all the British winners, and quipped that the U.S. might look into changing immigration laws related to “shithole countries.”

He thanked HBO, and singled out Richard Plepler and Casey Bloys.

The Emmy for supporting actress in a drama was given out by Kristen Bell from The Good Place on NBC and Don Cheadle from Showtime’s Black Monday. Julia Garner of Netflix’s Ozark won. She likened the trophy to a piece of chocolate and wished she could break off a piece for everyone in her life. Jason Bateman got a special shout-out.

“I love playing Ruth so much,” she said. “Every single day I feel so lucky for doing this.”

Regina King of HBO drama Watchmen handled the in memoriam segment, with Halsey singing “Time After Time.” Peggy Lipton, Tim Conway, Arte Johnson and Cokie Roberts were among those saluted. 

Kerry Washington of Scandal handed out the prize for lead actor in a drama. That went to Billy Porter of FX’s Pose. “The category is love, ya’ll,” said an emotional Porter.

He quoted James Baldwin and singled out the “exquisitely talented” other men in the category.

Porter added, “Ryan Murphy, Ryan Murphy, Ryan Murphy” for the Pose creator.

The directing for a drama prize was given out by Brittany Snow and Timothy Hutton of Fox’s Almost Family. Jason Bateman of Netflix’s Ozark won.

“I can’t be holding this without a whole lot of people who make this show,” he said.

Lead actress in a drama was handed out by Gwyneth Paltrow of Netflix’s The Politician. It went to Jodie Comer of BBC America’s Killing Eve.

“I cannot believe I’m in a category alongside these women,” she said, singling out co-star Sandra Oh.

Comer apologized to her parents back in Liverpool, who she did not invite because she didn’t expect to win. 

Norman Lear and Marisa Tomei were out next to award top comedy. That went to Amazon’s Fleabag, beating out HBO’s Barry and Veep, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Netflix’s Russian Doll, Pop TV’s Schitt’s Creek and NBC’s The Good Place.

“This is getting ridiculous,” said Waller-Bridge.

She said Fleabag began as a one-woman show in Edinburgh, and the journey had been “absolutely mental.”

“Season two would not have happened or exploded in the way it did without Andrew Scott,” she said of the show’s Hot Priest, noting the depth and complexity of his performance.

Michael Douglas came out to award top drama. Game of Thrones got the honor, beating out Succession on HBO, Better Call Saul on AMC, Bodyguard and Ozark on Netflix, This Is Us on NBC, Pose on FX and Killing Eve on AMC/BBC America.

“This all started in the demented mind of George R. R. Martin,” said David Benioff, who thanked Martin for taking a chance on a couple guys who’d not pulled off such a mission before.

“We loved every minute we spent with all of you,” said D.B. Weiss.

Weiss saluted all the camera operators on the show, crediting them for remaining alive after so many tricky shoots.

“These last ten years have been the best ten years of our lives,” said Benioff. 

Michael Malone

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.