If there is one thing that the rescheduled Emmy awards from this year will be remembered for, it is comforting predictability. Succession swept the board in the dramatic stakes, as The Bear did a similarly imperial job in the comedy categories. There is, of course, something of an arbitrary nature about the way that both shows have been designated; Succession contained more laugh-out-loud scenes, characters and storylines than most comedies — and The Bear alternates between humor and serious dramatic heft with aplomb. Yet the powers that be decided to designate them thus, and I doubt that Jesse Armstrong or Christopher Storer, the creators of the two shows, will be complaining too vociferously today.
It may have been unfortunate that the Emmys came so close to the Golden Globes, because they were beat for beat a repeat of the major awards. Kieran Culkin once again triumphed over his co-stars Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong to win lead actor in a drama series for Succession — and used his acceptance speech to ask his wife to have another child with him as a reward for winning, a touch that felt not a million miles away from his character Roman Roy — and Sarah Snook took lead actress in a drama, with her on-screen husband Matthew Macfadyen again picking up best supporting actor for his show-stealing work as hapless douchebag-turned-puppet CEO Tom Wambsgans. The show also won best writing and directing for a drama for its stand-out episode “Connor’s Wedding.” If Strong, for me the consistent stand-out across the four seasons, was shut out, he can console himself with the knowledge that he has already won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his exceptional work.
Rival producers must breathe a sigh of relief that the all-conquering Succession has come to an end, so the likes of The Last of Us and The White Lotus may get a look-in in future ceremonies, but there will be no such consolation for those up against The Bear, which took most of the awards that it was nominated for, and will be returning for a third season either later this year or early next. Still, it deserved its success, especially in a thin field; the disappointing last series of Ted Lasso went home empty-handed, and the presence of shows such as Wednesday felt like makeweights in the extreme.
As a show, the Emmys was inevitably superior to the Golden Globes in that it did not have the worst host of all time in the form of Jo Koy, but was instead shepherded through by the altogether more experienced comedian Anthony Anderson.
Controversy was largely kept to a minimum, although Armstrong, being a Brit, may have got away with a gag about how his show touched on “partisan news coverage [that] gets entwined with divisive right-wing politics”; on the night that Trump triumphed with a huge majority in the Iowa caucus, the elements of political satire that emerged throughout Succession could not seem timelier.
The Emmys were delayed four months because of the WGA and SAG strikes, and so it will be a mere nine months before the various actors, writers, producers and directors don their gladrags and parade down the red carpet again this September. In this unsurprising but nonetheless satisfying ceremony, there was a sense that the right shows had been lauded — including Netflix’s Beef, the other big winner of the night — and that the once-mighty likes of The Crown and Ted Lasso have been superseded by more deserving competitors. One request, though, for the next ceremony: please could the excellent Slow Horses finally get some awards love? And if Gary Oldman could host it in character as his foul-mouthed, flatulent spymaster Jackson Lamb, that would be all the better.