“Succession” and “Ted Lasso” topped the Emmy Awards on Monday, in a ceremony that touted the power of TV and extended honors to “Squid Game” and winners who delivered messages of empowerment.
The evening's uplifting tone, as voiced especially by Zendaya, Lizzo and Sheryl Lee Ralph, was in contrast to the darkness that pervaded the storytelling of best drama series winner “Succession” and even comedy series winner “Ted Lasso."
“Thanks for making such a safe space to make this very difficult show,” said best drama actress winner Zendaya, claiming her second award for “Euphoria,” which chronicles teens and their tough coming-of-age.
“My greatest wish for “Euphoria’ was that it could help heal people. Thank you for everyone who has shared your story with me. I carry them with me, and I carry them with” her character, Rue, as well, Zendaya said.
“Succession,” about a media empire run by a grasping and cutthroat family, split drama series honors with “Squid Game,” the series about the idle rich turning the poor into entertainment fodder.
Lee Jung-jae of “Squid Game,” who played the show's moral center, became the first Asian actor to win the best drama series actor Emmy.
Jason Sudeikis and Jean Smart collected back-to-back acting trophies, while Zendaya picked up her second drama actress prize for “Euphoria.”
Several new Emmy winners were minted, with Lizzo and Quinta Brunson and Sheryl Lee Ralph of “Abbott Elementary" collecting trophies.
Sudeikis won his second consecutive trophy for the soccer comedy “Ted Lasso,” with Smart matching that haul for the standup-centered comedy “Hacks.” Sudeikis gave a rare awards show shoutout to TV consumers.
“Thanks to the people who watch this show and dig it as much as we dig making it,” he said.
Ralph stopped the Emmy Awards show by accepting the best supporting actress comedy award for “Abbott Elementary" with a brief but rousing song of affirmation.
“I am an endangered species, but I sing no victim song. I am a woman, I am an artist and I know where my voice belongs,” she belted out. She then encouraged anyone doubting their dream “I am here to tell you this is what believing looks like.”
The audience, including Lizzo and many of television's biggest stars, leapt to their feet to cheer on Ralph.
When Lizzo herself accepted the award for best-competition series trophy for “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls,” she offered another emotional pep talk.
“When I was a little girl, all I wanted to see was me in the media. Someone fat like me, Black like me, beautiful like me,” the music artist said.
“Ted Lasso” co-star Brett Goldstein, won comedy supporting actors, while Matthew Macfadyen of “Succession” and Julia Garner of “Ozark” earned drama seires supporting actor honors.
“It's such a a pleasure and privilege for me to play this bonkers gift of a role in this wonderful show,” Macfadyen said in accepting the trophy for his role as a scheming member of a media empire family.
Garner was among the winners who took advantage of covering all bases by thanking her husband and others in an on-screen message.
“The White Lotus” collected several honors, including best limited or anthology series.
Host Kenan Thompson kicked off the Emmys with a tribute to TV, dismissing Tik-Tok as “tiny vertical television,” and a musical number saluting series’ theme songs from “Friends” to “The Brady Bunch” to “Game of Thrones.”
Once the music stopped, Thompson provided a mic drop moment — announcing Oprah Winfrey as the first presenter. Winfrey strutted onto the stage holding an Emmy statuette, declaring the night “a party!” The night’s first award went to Michael Keaton for his role in “Dopesick.” Winfrey and Keaton hugged before she handed him his trophy.
“It means something,” Keaton said of the award for playing a caring doctor ensnared with his patients by addiction. He went on to recall the “magic” of being introduced to TV when his dad won a set at a raffle and thanked his parents for not mocking his youthful attempts at acting.
Amanda Seyfried earned the limited-series lead actress trophy for “The Dropout,” in which she played ill-fated Silicon Valley whiz kid Elizabeth Holmes. She thanked a list of family and colleagues and even her dog, Finn.
Murray Bartlett won the best supporting actor award for limited series of “The White Lotus,” a tragicomedy set in a Hawaii resort. Jennifer Coolidge, who won best supporting actress honors for the show, delighted the audience by shimmying to the music intended to cut off her acceptance speech.
The award for best variety talk show went to “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” with stand-up special “Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel” winning for best writing for a comedy special.
"Good night, everybody. I’ma go home. I’m not like a sore winner, but I’m going to go home because I can’t top this right now,” an overcome Carmichael told the audience.