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Women Lead Emmy Awards' Biggest Moments

Julia Louis-Dreyfus' historic win, Donald Glover's dominance, and Sean Spicer are among the ceremony's highlights.

by and | September 17, 2017 | Comments

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony on Sunday held a few big surprises, including stories by and about women dominating top awards and veteran NBC variety show Saturday Night Live leading the award count.

See the full list of the night’s winners here, but the year’s top winners overall were:

Saturday Night Live – 9
Big Little Lies – 8
The Handmaid’s Tale – 8
Stranger Things – 5
The Night Of – 5
Veep – 5
Westworld – 5

Here are five of the biggest surprises and moments from Sunday’s ceremony and what social media observers had to say about the results.


1. Stephen Colbert’s Politically Charged Opening

Host Colbert kicked the program off with a cameo-filled musical number (including a verse by Chance the Rapper, who urged viewers to record their shows and be politically active) followed by a similarly themed monologue meant jokes about Hollywood, the TV industry, and yes, politics, including an appearance from a former White House player that caused jaws to drop.


Colbert’s Daily Show background means he never steers clear of politics, and after a politically charged opening musical number and monologue, he brought out a major surprise: former White House spokesperson and SNL subject Sean Spicer. And yes, it was kinda awkward for Melissa McCarthy, who won an Emmy for playing him at the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend.


2. Donald Glover’s Big Wins

Not only did Glover take home an award for Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series — the first African-American person ever to do so — for an episode of Atlanta, he also won for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy.


3. Ann Dowd and Kate McKinnon’s Tearful Speeches

Both Dowd, a first-time winner, and McKinnon, who took home the trophy last year, were so overcome with emotion (and seemed to be in disbelief of their wins) that they were in tears throughout their (still-eloquent) speeches.


4. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Historic Win

The Seinfeld star is already a TV icon, but by winning her sixth consecutive Emmy for Veep, Louis-Dreyfus broke the record for most Emmys won by a single actor for one role. (The previous record holder was Candice Bergen for Murphy Brown).


5. Women’s Tales by Women Dominate

Taking Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Elisabeth Moss, Dowd’s Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Alexis Bledel, as well as Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for Bruce Miller and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for Reed Morano, the Hulu original based on Margaret Atwood’s classic novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, proved to be the little drama series that could. Atwood got a standing ovation when she joined the cast and producers on stage.

Big Little Lies, also based on a novel by a female author, Liane Moriarty, also scored big wins for Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Television Movie for Nicole Kidman, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Television Movie for Laura Dern, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Television Movie for Alexander Skarsgård, and Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special for Jean-Marc Vallée.


Adding to the female milestones was Lena Waithe, the first black woman to win for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. Waithe shared the award with Master of None co-writer Aziz Ansari for the episode “Thanksgiving.”

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