For a yearly awards ceremony, the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards were exciting in all the wrong ways. By the end of the first hour, the source of its drama had switched from wondering what the academy might have done right to predicting what would go wrong next. (In a nutshell: diversity, diversity, diversity.)
The night’s B-plot — the race to see whether HBO would keep its title as the nation’s leader in prestige television — was slightly less exhausting, although it was just as anticlimactic. During this year’s Primetime Emmys telecast, Netflix bested HBO, taking home seven statuettes to HBO’s six. Including the unaired categories, the studios tied for 23 Emmys in total. Amazon and FX tied for second in the broadcast with five wins each, though, in total, FX bested Amazon with 12 overall awards to the latter’s eight. (Atlanta, FX’s main contender, was snubbed in every category it was nominated for.)
At this year’s awards show, the streaming studios finally reached equal footing with their network and cable peers. The television landscape has been radically shifting for some time now, but this year’s ceremony officially proved that streaming services’ strategy of shoveling out massive amounts of money on content can bring in the kind of prestige wins that transform a network into a powerhouse, and HBO and its establishment peers are right to be worried.
This year, HBO won in comedy and drama, taking home prizes for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Henry Winkler, Barry), Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Bill Hader, Barry), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Thandie Newton, Westworld), and Outstanding Variety Talk Show (Last Week Tonight with John Oliver). The studio closed out the night with a win for Game of Thrones (which hasn’t aired an episode in a year) for Outstanding Drama Series.
At 2018’s ceremony, Netflix won big in the limited series categories. Merritt Wever and Jeff Daniels, respectively, took home trophies in Outstanding Supporting Actress / Actor in a Limited Series for the studio’s Western Godless. Black Mirror and Seven Seconds’ Regina King took home honors for Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series, respectively.
Given the streaming giant’s huge investment in comedy, it was no surprise to see John Mulaney win Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special for Kid Gorgeous. Netflix got one more for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, for The Crown, but its biggest win was undoubtedly for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, which went to Claire Foy (also for The Crown).
Amazon cleaned up in the comedy category with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which brought in all five of the studio’s awards. The show won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Comedy Series.
Fox Television’s prestige arm won a very respectable five Emmys, mostly for its limited series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, which won for Outstanding Directing in a Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series, and Outstanding Limited Series. The studio’s other two wins came from The Americans, which brought home prizes in Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
Last year’s award totals weren’t quite so close. HBO closed out 2017 with 29 wins, Netflix had 20, Hulu had 10, FX had six, and Amazon closed the night out with two.