News

Top Emmy Moments 2021: Brits Win Big, Diversity Does Not, and the Cast of Schitt's Creek and Conan O'Brien Steal the Show

In an almost surprise-free night at the Emmys, some presenters – and photobombers – brought the joy, while winners like Michaela Coel managed to light a fire with inspiring speeches.

by | September 20, 2021 | Comments

Kate Winslet at the 2021 Emmy Awards

(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Image)

GOOOAALLL!!! Apple TV+’s feel-good comedy Ted Lasso received the 2021 Primetime Emmy Award for best comedy series. In total, between Sunday’s broadcast and last week’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards, the Jason Sudeikis-led series about a mustachioed fish-out-of-water British football coach received 11 trophies — including one for its leading man, plus supporting acting trophies for actor Brett Goldstein and actress Hannah Waddingham.

That 11-trophy haul was something matched by limited series The Queen’s Gambit and drama The Crown, which dominated the night in their respective categories.

Despite adhering to quarantine regulations by keeping the event to an intimate gathering in Los Angeles as well as a watch party in London (where it was 1am when the broadcast started), the Cedric the Entertainer-hosted CBS program managed to hand out 28 awards — including the annual Governors Award, which this year went to actress-director and dance extraordinaire, Debbie Allen.

That things went so smoothly – if at times rather dully – might actually have been the biggest surprise of them all, as most of the winners were as routine as a morning drop-off of biscuits from an overly optimistic Kansan. But there were some big bold takeaways from the night, not all of them the kind you wanna sing about…


1. The Brits Rule the Night

Emmys - Ted Lasso

(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

It wasn’t just Ted Lasso that won big at the Emmys. As mentioned, the TV Academy also raised a few pints to Netflix’s monarchy drama, The Crown. The series won best drama, creator Peter Morgan won the Emmy for writing for a drama series and Jessica Hobbs took home the Emmy for best directing for a drama series. The series’ actors Olivia Colman, Josh O’Connor, Tobias Menzies, and Gillian Anderson (who was technically born in Chicago, but is married to Morgan and spent a chunk of her childhood in London, so we’ll let it slide) also received honors.

Other British winners included Mare of Easttown’s Kate Winslet, who received the Emmy for lead actress in a limited or anthology series or movie and I May Destroy You’s Michaela Coel, who received the Emmy for writing for a limited or anthology series or movie. Ewan McGregor, who is Scottish, also won the lead actor in a limited series or movie Emmy for his work in Netflix’s Halston.

How did the Brits celebrate? In style. Check out the Ted Lasso team performing the “Roy Kent cheer” below…


2. Michaela Coel Implores Creators to “Write the Tale That Scares You”

One of the biggest surprises of the night wasn’t that Coel won for writing the HBO limited series I May Destroy You, but that she didn’t win more awards for her work on the powerful piece about rape, assault, and survival. (The 2020 miniseries is Certified Fresh with a 98% Tomatometer). She was also nominated for directing and starring in the project, which was also nominated for best limited series or anthology.

Coel’s remarks upon accepting her Emmy will also not soon be forgotten. During the concise and poignant 33-odd second acceptance Coel told her fellow creatives to “write the tale the scares you; that makes you feel uncertain; that is uncomfortable. I dare you.”

Other winners with memorable Emmy acceptance speeches included Mare of Easttown’s Julianne Nicholson, who reached out to “all the ladies in Philadelphia and Kabul,” Hacks star Jean Smart, who thanked her late husband, and Governors Award winner Allen, who spoke to the “women in Texas and Afghanistan” as well as the next generation who are just beginning to fight for equality.


3. Lack of Diversity Among the Winners. Again.

RuPaul's Drag Race

(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

After last year’s Emmy Awards saw major gains for performers of color, in particular Black performers, this year’s ceremony was a step back in that department. Although RuPaul made history, becoming the person of color with the most Emmy wins, there were very few people of color who would eventually be on the winner’s stage. This was frustrating to many viewers, as many performers of color were nominated this year, including Billy Porter, Mj Rodriguez, Uzo Aduba, the cast of A Black Lady Sketch Show, and the late Michael K. Williams, among many others.

On the brighter side, several of the Emmys bits did recognize Black talent. One featured host Cedric and three different actresses who have played his wives on sitcoms. (The Neighborhood’s Tichina Arnold, The Soul Man’s Niecy Nash, and The Steve Harvey Show’s Terri J. Vaughn).


4. Touching Tributes to Friends We’ve Lost, Including Michael K. Williams and Norm Macdonald

Michael K. Williams

(Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic)

While the traditional In Memoriam segment was as tear-jerking as always, several people on stage also took the time to remember their friends. Both Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver and Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels referenced comedian Norm Macdonald, who died last week, in their acceptance speeches. And Kerry Washington made a point of mentioning the work of Michael K. Williams when presenting the supporting actor in a drama category, in which he was nominated for his work in HBO’s Lovecraft Country. The reaction on her face when her friend lost that category was palpable.


5. Schitt’s Creek Cast Shows Why We Still Can’t Get Enough of Them

Schitt's Creek Cast

(Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images)

It’s been a year since the cast of Netflix’s Schitt’s Creek swept the Emmys and kept us laughing all the way through that ceremony. So that’s why the stars’ banter before presenting the award for best writing for a comedy series felt so warm. Was there actually a teleprompter issue? Was star Eugene Levy actually giving notes to the Emmy Awards writers? Does it even matter? Sometimes it’s not worth asking why we’re given good things.


6. Conan O’Brien Photobombs His Way Into Our Hearts

When you’re 6’4″ with a shock of red hair and a recognizable laugh, it’s hard to blend into a crowd. Especially if you’re Conan O’Brien. The talk-show host made his presence known at the 2021 Emmy Awards, even though he did not actually receive an Emmy. He made sure to crash any opportunity he could get, be it improvising remarks to TV Academy CEO and chairman Frank Scherma or joining Stephen Colbert and his producers on stage when they accepted the award for best variety special (live) for Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020.


On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

harry potter lord of the rings See It Skip It hollywood kaiju A&E telelvision Discovery Channel Marvel Studios spider-man unscripted best Watching Series travel young adult spider-verse spanish Cartoon Network Binge Guide Netflix CW Seed Paramount book adaptation tv talk rt labs reboot Kids & Family Comedy Biopics cats YouTube versus Disney streaming service screenings docuseries Paramount Network 4/20 comics japan E! 2018 Women's History Month 2019 canceled MCU Christmas independent comic Calendar emmy awards Drama Arrowverse godzilla Podcast series comic books scorecard adventure Summer 72 Emmy Awards romantic comedy Epix canceled TV shows 007 comiccon CBS All Access Broadway thriller BAFTA french Family Emmys ratings TCM Alien 2015 crime drama genre Pet Sematary PBS marvel comics Comic Book DC Comics RT History cancelled animated hispanic true crime Comics on TV laika satire crime thriller ITV Fantasy serial killer Amazon Prime Video Superheroes reviews IFC Films Holidays Heroines chucky prank video deadpool Academy Awards game of thrones asian-american Horror TNT romance Starz Sundance TV Amazon Exclusive Video Interview monster movies Tomatazos Premiere Dates President HBO Go heist movie kong OneApp Mudbound Music USA Funimation Song of Ice and Fire 1990s History superman franchise aapi adaptation Comic-Con@Home 2021 werewolf binge scene in color El Rey Black Mirror Infographic cancelled TV shows ABC Family obituary new zealand scary streaming golden globes Pixar venice The Walking Dead Warner Bros. trailers toronto Sneak Peek VICE Lucasfilm composers science fiction posters cults diversity christmas movies 2021 scary movies Pop police drama zombie mission: impossible fast and furious ABC Signature New York Comic Con Photos Masterpiece robots justice league elevated horror vampires ghosts Sony Pictures zombies historical drama Dark Horse Comics Writers Guild of America dc Lifetime Christmas movies The Academy Adult Swim slasher green book TruTV Amazon Studios Crunchyroll superhero sitcom documentaries book hist quibi cancelled television Grammys Shudder Action sopranos MSNBC marvel cinematic universe Countdown The Witch australia Nat Geo cartoon Toys cinemax Chilling Adventures of Sabrina First Look target Acorn TV Awards Tour IFC Nickelodeon mockumentary Mystery Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt toy story Holiday SXSW Rock basketball cooking Fall TV teaser indie critic resources Character Guide VOD supernatural Crackle WGN 21st Century Fox Captain marvel new york rotten Disney+ Disney Plus Elton John video on demand game show joker free movies Apple what to watch National Geographic Rocketman rt labs critics edition SundanceTV blockbusters Tokyo Olympics Opinion revenge YouTube Red WarnerMedia OWN festivals razzies TCA 73rd Emmy Awards criterion X-Men Valentine's Day gangster dragons YouTube Premium HBO Max new star wars movies Mindy Kaling Amazon Prime Chernobyl rotten movies we love Shondaland movie award winner GLAAD Year in Review Film Super Bowl First Reviews Logo transformers Fox News films Country know your critic 93rd Oscars Set visit 71st Emmy Awards Avengers concert Comedy Central latino AMC Plus spy thriller slashers Cannes nbcuniversal period drama richard e. Grant sports TIFF Showtime Ovation NBC stoner sequels biopic universal monsters Election politics south america Sundance Disney movies Syfy worst movies spain Netflix Christmas movies children's TV talk show DirecTV Turner Lifetime Fox Searchlight Spike italian BET Awards Stephen King psychological thriller witnail Creative Arts Emmys GoT MTV comic book movies james bond a nightmare on elm street theme song sag awards technology dreamworks anime doctor who 90s Oscars A24 Video Games Mary poppins Ellie Kemper rom-coms ESPN Sundance Now documentary feel good HBO Polls and Games Wes Anderson blockbuster die hard cops Reality Columbia Pictures BBC One psycho Extras Sci-Fi stop motion dogs BBC America 99% PlayStation Trophy Talk comedies king arthur Trivia TCA Awards The Arrangement mutant discovery SDCC Travel Channel TV renewals Lionsgate news Apple TV+ Bravo Baby Yoda FXX Endgame critics DC Universe nfl Vudu festival IMDb TV Black History Month Spectrum Originals pirates of the caribbean ID golden globe awards Spring TV 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Marvel Television 45 CMT indiana jones TLC political drama Neflix Superheroe name the review boxing Mary Poppins Returns FX social media cancelled TV series king kong mob CBS Pirates directors BBC medical drama Classic Film wonder woman Marathons Paramount Plus Musical cars Teen vs. classics Esquire Universal Pictures casting renewed TV shows live event aliens football singing competition 2016 breaking bad The Purge archives Universal Box Office Hear Us Out Best and Worst Peacock worst anthology Musicals American Society of Cinematographers Instagram Live Pride Month DC streaming service Trailer 2017 Winners APB black boxoffice Martial Arts adenture TCA 2017 zero dark thirty E3 Star Trek royal family Schedule Hallmark Christmas movies biography San Diego Comic-Con space facebook based on movie child's play live action LGBTQ The CW Image Comics Ghostbusters LGBT TBS jurassic park spinoff Emmy Nominations FOX CNN war Quiz ViacomCBS Anna Paquin streaming movies Hulu Tumblr popular NYCC nature TV japanese suspense RT21 Turner Classic Movies fresh miniseries Nominations dexter YA rt archives Britbox Tarantino TV One sequel stand-up comedy black comedy Disney Plus docudrama Rom-Com Mary Tyler Moore Cosplay Star Wars action-comedy olympics PaleyFest foreign hispanic heritage month AMC Television Academy screen actors guild Apple TV Plus finale Awards TCA Winter 2020 natural history Red Carpet Freeform dramedy dceu twilight Hallmark Tubi disaster 24 frames saw international TV Land Winter TV legend parents batman crossover BET halloween strong female leads comic book movie art house ABC all-time NBA Rocky GIFs Thanksgiving hidden camera USA Network crime Pop TV spanish language Animation FX on Hulu mcc The Walt Disney Company Film Festival Walt Disney Pictures halloween tv 20th Century Fox VH1 kids Legendary Western blaxploitation Certified Fresh Marvel dark Pacific Islander remakes Television Critics Association DGA Disney Channel television TV movies Brie Larson women high school debate 2020 Reality Competition jamie lee curtis Food Network