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Emmys 2022: The Award Show Where Everything Old Is New Again, and Also Still Old

EARLY IN THE 2022 Primetime Emmy Awards telecast, host Kenan Thompson joked, “Tonight, we celebrate the hundreds and hundreds of shows that were produced last year, and then we give awards to five of them.” Like a number of the Saturday Night Live vet’s zingers throughout the night, the line had the ring of truth to it. The easiest way to win an Emmy is to have already won an Emmy, and the last few Emmy ceremonies were rendered tedious by a handful of shows hoovering up every trophy in sight.

For a while there, though, it seemed like maybe this year would be different. The telecast itself was a pretty dire production as usual, with even Thompson’s trademark gameness failing to elevate most of the dumb material he was given, and with lots of other bad choices in terms of comedy sketches or presentations. (For the love of all that is holy, can we go back to just showing what is on the screen during the In Memoriam, rather than crowd shots or close-ups of the singer’s head so that we can’t see the names or pictures of the people being honored?) But the awards and speeches themselves — the ostensible reason for the whole thing, even if the folks producing the show every year seem embarrassed by it — were surprising and fantastic.

Dopesick star Michael Keaton and The White Lotus scene stealer Murray Bartlett got the evening off to a nice start. Neither win was particularly shocking, but both were recognized for excellent performances, and both men gave heartfelt, if long, speeches. Matthew MacFadyen, a.k.a. the most potent comic weapon on Succession, seemed very pleased to get his first Emmy. So far, all was well.

The momentum then got derailed by Ozark‘s Julia Garner winning her third drama supporting actress Emmy in the last four years (and she wasn’t eligible in the other one), a predictable result that kept Better Call Saul titan Rhea Seehorn and several other more exciting choices sitting on the sidelines(*). Disappointing as Garner’s rubber-stamping was, it was followed by something spectacular.

(*) The good-ish news for Seehorn, Bob Odenkirk, and company, is that the final batch of Better Call Saul episodes will be eligible next year. The question is whether Emmy voters will still remember how great they were by next summer. 

The next award was for supporting actress in a comedy, which went to Abbott Elementary co-star Sheryl Lee Ralph. In a sense, Ralph was not the most cutting-edge choice. She is 65 years old, has been acting on television since the Seventies, has been a cast regular on nearly a dozen different series (as a waitress on the syndicated Eighties comedy It’s a Living, or as Brandy’s stepmom on Nineties favorite Moesha, to name just two). She has plugged away, year after year, on stage and screen, the very definition of a reliable journeyman.

But that is one part of what made her win so unexpected. Another is that she got it for a comedy made for one of the original broadcast networks, in an era where you have to explain to many viewers below a certain age what a broadcast network even is. But mostly what made it great is that Sheryl Lee Ralph is great on that show and in life, and her response to winning — beating reigning champ Hannah Waddingham and several other Ted Lasso actresses — was an award-worthy spectacle in and of itself. It came in three stages. First, there was the utter shock on her face of the win itself.

She was frozen at first, and eventually costar Tyler James Williams helped steer her to the stage, where she again stood silent for what seemed like an eternity, especially on a night when so many other winners seemed terrified of the clock. And then, my goodness, Sheryl Lee Ralph began to sing. This was not a bit, nor awkward warbling from a nervous, untrained vocalist. This was a member of the original Broadway cast of Dreamgirls belting out “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves, with a power and grace that brought the entire room to its feet.

And then she somehow topped this moment with a passionate, eloquent, inspiring speech about the importance of accepting failure and coming back for the next challenge, and the next, and the next. Any one of those elements on its own would have made it a classic Emmy moment. Combined, it’s an absolute all-timer — the kind of thing these shows hope for, but so rarely get.

There were some more repeat winners after — charming Ted Lasso supporting player Brett Goldstein, Saturday Night Live again beating A Black Lady Sketch Show in the utterly broken sketch-comedy series category, and Last Week Tonight getting its seventh consecutive variety/talk show award — and it seemed like the night might lose all the momentum from Ralph’s triumph.

But then White Lotus MVP Jennifer Coolidge won and gave a fabulous speech of her own, mixing self-deprecation, low-key mockery of the weirdness of the event itself, and a dancing refusal to be played off by the orchestra(*). Dropout lead Amanda Seyfried — by far the best example of this spring’s Movie Stars Play Infamous Real People In Prestige Miniseries boom — was a worthy winner and gave a sincere and pithy speech, and Lizzo brought herself and many people in the crowd to tears talking about how she grew up desperately wanting to see “someone fat like me, Black like me, beautiful like me” on television. 

(*) Initially, it seemed as if the music only kicked in when someone past their allotted time was reading off a list of names. (Many winners took advantage of the option to give the producers some text to be displayed on the screen while they spoke.) But as the night got late, pretty much every time infraction was met with the Music of Death, because of course the brutal comedy bits and dance numbers can never be cut.

The good vibes remained as White Lotus continued its dominance with back-to-back wins for writer-director Mike White, who got choked up talking about his ailing father Mel (with whom he competed on two different seasons of The Amazing Race). To a degree, White Lotus destroying everything in sight turned the whole limited series portion of the evening into its own inevitability. But it was also a great show, and many of its competitors were much less so. (And nobody in the Academy seemed to care that the gorgeous Station Eleven deserved several trophies itself.)

Jerrod Carmichael got emotional in a more understated way after winning a writing award for his HBO comedy special Rothaniel, where he came out. “I made something that was of great personal consequence to me,” he said quietly but firmly, “and this definitely contributes to that.”

A predictable win for Ted Lasso star Jason Sudeikis followed, and if the voters were going to give it to a former winner, at least they could have looked toward Bill Hader, whose Barry was easily the best show in the whole comedy field, yet left the night empty-handed. Or they could have gone both new and old simultaneously, by honoring either Steve Martin (whose last Emmy win was 53 years ago, as a writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour) or Martin Short for the first season of Only Murders in the Building. Sudeikis was an uninspired choice, at best, even if he did some good comic and dramatic work in Ted Season Two.

The good vibes returned quickly, though, as Abbott Elementary creator and star Quinta Brunson won the comedy writing award, despite a tough field that included two Barry episodes, two What We Do in the Shadows episodes, Steve Martin for Only Murders, and an installment of last year’s winner, Hacks. Again, a broadcast network winning any Emmy in the year of our lord 2022 feels weirdly edgy, and for a writing award to go to someone who is still relatively new to television over a bunch of celebrated pros on more glamorous cable or streaming series was quite something. (Abbott is also terrific, and deserving of all its success so far for ABC.)

Then came an even bigger shock: Squid Game director Hwang Dong-hyuk beating former winner Jason Bateman from Ozark, presumed favorite Ben Stiller from SeveranceYellowjackets pilot director Karyn Kusama, and three different Succession directors for the drama directing prize. The Emmys have generally not been a place for foreign-language projects, yet here was a sensation out of South Korea that would not only bring Dong-hyuk to the stage, but later see leading man Lee Jung-jae beat out Jeremy Strong, Bob Odenkirk, and the rest of the drama lead actor field. “I truly hope Squid Game will not be the last non-English series here at the Emmys,” Dong-hyuk said, while Jung-jae concluded his acceptance speech by switching from measured English to rapid-fire Korean to be sure he could say everything he wanted to.

Other than Jung-jae’s win, though, the last hour or so of the ceremony was largely chalk. Euphoria star Zendaya won her second award for the series after sitting out last year’s ceremony while the high school drama was on a long hiatus. Jean Smart from Hacks was a repeat winner. MJ Delaney from Ted Lasso won the comedy directing award for the funeral episode, and while she had not won the year before, that category was filled with bolder and more interesting choices, particularly the largely wordless episode of Only Murders in the Building focusing on the deaf character Theo Dimas, and the Barry episode with that astonishing motorcycle freeway chase. By the time White Lotus got the limited series award, its cast and creator had already been to the stage so many times that it felt like a repeat winner. (And, weirdly, will be eligible again for its second season, which will bring back Coolidge’s character and thus probably shouldn’t qualify as an anthology.)

And both Ted Lasso and Succession defended their titles for the respective comedy and drama series honors. These were not bad performances or seasons of television being celebrated — Zendaya and Smart are wonderful, Succession Season Three was fantastic, and Ted Lasso Season Two was flawed but intriguingly ambitious — but together, they brought back the Same Old Emmys feeling that the night had avoided for a surprisingly long stretch of time. And it didn’t help that Ted Lasso and Succession won so much overall by the end, even if Abbott Elementary and Squid Game very briefly made it seem like anyone’s night.

It turns out Kenan’s prediction wasn’t quite right: 14 different shows got at least one Emmy during the telecast (to go with many more that were honored at least week’s Creative Arts Emmys ceremonies). And for a hot minute, it felt like this could be a rare Emmys get-together that might share the wealth and not fall victim to automatically punching the ticket of whoever won the category last year. But you can only hope for so much from an awards body that, by both design and temperament, can’t resist picking the same favorites year after year. And if the evening didn’t conclude on an inspirational note, we will always have Sheryl Lee Ralph blowing the roof off the joint, won’t we?

Emmys 2022 Winners: See the Full List Here

We came, we saw, The White Lotus conquered.

The HBO limited dramedy picked up five awards at the Emmys 2022 ceremony Monday night in Los Angeles, including best limited series and supporting actor (Murray Bartlett), supporting actress (Jennifer Coolidge, who danced to her own play-off music and cemented her legend status), writing (Mike White), and directing (White, again) for a limited series.

Ted Lasso and Succession bigfooted the comedy and drama categories, respectively, with each taking home the top prize. Ted Lasso snagged four wins overall at the ceremony, while Succession, the most-nominated title of the night, had three wins.

However, history was made in a handful of one-off wins at the ceremony, like Sheryl Lee Ralph’s triumphant best-supporting-actress-in-a-comedy win for Abbott Elementary. She literally belted out her acceptance speech, and for good reason: This was Ralph’s first Emmy nomination after a decades-long career, and she became only the second Black woman to win the category—the first was Jackée Harry in 1987. Zendaya, too, took home a record alongside her outstanding-lead-actress-in-a-drama award for Euphoria: She’s now the youngest two-time winner for acting in Emmy history, having celebrated her 26th birthday less than two weeks ago.

Even more winners: Lizzo is halfway to an EGOT after her emotional win for outstanding competition series; Michael Keaton won his first Emmy; Squid Game took home two trophies; and Julia Garner enjoyed her third win for her portrayal of her character on Netflix’s Ozark.

Check out the full list of winners and nominees at the Emmys 2022 ceremony below, and be sure to keep an eye on all of Vanity Fair’s expert coverage and analysis of television’s most prestigious awards. 

And the winners are…

Drama Series

WINNER: Succession
Better Call Saul
Euphoria
Ozark
Severance
Squid Game
Stranger Things
Yellowjackets

Comedy Series

WINNER: Ted Lasso
Abbott Elementary 
Barry
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Hacks
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Only Murders in the Building
What We Do in the Shadows

Limited or Anthology Series

WINNER: The White Lotus
Dopesick
The Dropout
Inventing Anna
Pam & Tommy

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

WINNER: Lee Jung-jae, Squid Game 
Jason Bateman, Ozark  
Brian Cox, Succession 
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul 
Adam Scott, Severance 
Jeremy Strong, Succession

Writing for a Drama Series

WINNER: Jesse Armstrong, Succession (“All the Bells Say”) 
Dan Erickson, Severance (“The We We Are”) 
Hwang Dong-hyuk, Squid Game (“One Lucky Day”) 
Jonathan Lisco, Ashley Lyle, and Bart Nickerson, Yellowjackets (“F Sharp”)
Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, Yellowjackets (“Pilot”)
Chris Mundy, Ozark (“A Hard Way to Go”) 
Thomas Schnauz, Better Call Saul (“Plan and Execution”)

Directing for a Comedy Series

WINNER: MJ Delaney, Ted Lasso (“No Weddings and a Funeral”) 
Lucia Aniello, Hacks (“There Will Be Blood”) 
Jamie Babbit, Only Murders in the Building (“True Crime”) 
Cherien Dabis, Only Murders in the Building (“The Boy From 6B”) 
Mary Lou Belli, The Ms. Pat Show (“Baby Daddy Groundhog Day”) 
Bill Hader, Barry (“710N”) 
Hiro Murai, Atlanta (“New Jazz”)

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

WINNER: Jean Smart, Hacks
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary
Kaley Cuoco, The Flight Attendant
Elle Fanning, The Great
Issa Rae, Insecure

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

WINNER: Zendaya, Euphoria
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Laura Linney, Ozark
Melanie Lynskey, Yellowjackets
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Reese Witherspoon, The Morning Show

Directing for a Drama Series

WINNER: Hwang Dong-hyuk, Squid Game (“Red Light, Green Light”) 
Jason Bateman, Ozark (“A Hard Way to Go”) 
Karyn Kusama, Yellowjackets (“Pilot”)
Mark Mylod, Succession (“All the Bells Say”)
Lorene Scafaria, Succession (“Too Much Birthday”)
Ben Stiller, Severance (“The We We Are”)
Cathy Yan, Succession (“The Disruption”)

Writing for a Comedy Series

WINNER: Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary (“Pilot”)
Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky, Hacks (“The One, the Only”)  
Duffy Boudreau, Barry (“710N”) 
Bill Hader and Alec Berg, Barry (“Starting Now”)
Steve Martin and John Hoffman, Only Murders in the Building (“True Crime”)
Jane Becker, Ted Lasso (“No Weddings and a Funeral”)
Sarah Naftalis, What We Do in the Shadows (“The Casino”)
Stefani Robinson, What We Do in the Shadows (“The Wellness Center”)

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

WINNER: Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
Donald Glover, Atlanta
Bill Hader, Barry
Nicholas Hoult, The Great
Steve Martin, Only Murders in the Building
Martin Short, Only Murders in the Building

Writing for a Variety Special

WINNER: Jerrod Carmichael, Rothaniel
Ali Wong, Don Wong
Nicole Byer, BBW (Big Beautiful Weirdo)
Norm Macdonald, Nothing Special
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah Presents: Jordan Klepper Fingers the Globe—Hungary for Democracy

Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

WINNER: Mike White, The White Lotus
Elizabeth Meriwether, The Dropout (“I’m in a Hurry”)
Patrick Somerville, Station Eleven (“Unbroken Circle”)
Danny Strong, Dopesick (“The People vs. Purdue Pharma”)
Sarah Burgess, Impeachment: American Crime Story (“Man Handled”)
Molly Smith Metzler, Maid (“Snaps”)

Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

WINNER: Mike White, The White Lotus
Francesca Gregorini, The Dropout (“Iron Sisters”) 
Hiro Murai, Station Eleven (“Wheel of Fire”) 
Michael Showalter, The Dropout (“Green Juice”) 
Danny Strong, Dopesick (“The People vs. Purdue Pharma”) 
John Wells, Maid (“Sky Blue”)  

Competition Program

WINNER: Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls
The Amazing Race
Nailed It!
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Top Chef
The Voice

Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

WINNER: Amanda Seyfried, The Dropout
Toni Collette, The Staircase
Julia Garner, Inventing Anna
Lily James, Pam & Tommy
Sarah Paulson, Impeachment: American Crime Story
Margaret Qualley, Maid

Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

WINNER: Jennifer Coolidge, The White Lotus
Connie Britton, The White Lotus 
Alexandra Daddario, The White Lotus
Kaitlyn Dever, Dopesick
Natasha Rothwell, The White Lotus
Sydney Sweeney, The White Lotus
Mare Winningham, Dopesick

Variety Talk Series

WINNER: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Late Night With Seth Meyers
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Variety Sketch Series

WINNER: Saturday Night Live
A Black Lady Sketch Show

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

WINNER: Brett Goldstein, Ted Lasso
Anthony Carrigan, Barry
Toheeb Jimoh, Ted Lasso 
Nick Mohammed, Ted Lasso 
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Tyler James Williams, Abbott Elementary 
Henry Winkler, Barry
Bowen Yang, Saturday Night Live

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

WINNER: Sheryl Lee Ralph, Abbott Elementary
Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel 
Hannah Einbinder, Hacks 
Janelle James, Abbott Elementary 
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Sarah Niles, Ted Lasso
Juno Temple, Ted Lasso 
Hannah Waddingham, Ted Lasso

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

WINNER: Julia Garner, Ozark 
Patricia Arquette, Severance 
Hoyeon, Squid Game 
Christina Ricci, Yellowjackets 
Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul
J. Smith-Cameron, Succession 
Sarah Snook, Succession
Sydney Sweeney, Euphoria

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

WINNER: Matthew Macfadyen, Succession
Nicholas Braun, Succession 
Billy Crudup, The Morning Show
Kieran Culkin, Succession
Park Hae-soo, Squid Game
Christopher Walken, Severance
John Turturro, Severance
Oh Yeong-su, Squid Game

Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

WINNER: Murray Bartlett, The White Lotus
Jake Lacy, The White Lotus
Will Poulter, Dopesick
Seth Rogen, Pam & Tommy
Peter Sarsgaard, Dopesick
Michael Stuhlbarg, Dopesick
Steve Zahn, The White Lotus

Lead Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

WINNER: Michael Keaton, Dopesick
Colin Firth, The Staircase
Andrew Garfield, Under the Banner of Heaven
Oscar Isaac, Scenes From a Marriage
Himesh Patel, Station Eleven
Sebastian Stan, Pam & Tommy

Sources:

https://www.rollingstone.com/tv-movies/tv-movie-features/emmy-awards-2022-sepinwall-recap-1234591484/

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2021/08/10640659/the-white-lotus-review-the-limits-of-white-self-critique

https://variety.com/2022/tv/news/white-lotus-murray-bartlett-mike-white-jake-lacy-poop-scene-1235295742/

https://www.gq.com/story/white-lotus-season-2-cast-hbo

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/09/emmys-2022-winners-list

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/13/arts/television/best-worst-moments-2022-emmys.html

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