The Jimmy Kimmel–hosted 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards will be remembered for being a ceremony like no other, and not just as the first major awards show to present prizes entirely remotely following the COVID-19-induced lockdown. First-time winners and talent from new content platforms have appeared in the results alongside regular recipients of the Television Academy’s highest honors.
Broadcast live on ABC, the ceremony was planned in accordance with pandemic safety guidelines, with Kimmel stationed in Los Angeles’ Staples Center and over 100 cameras beaming in live feeds from nominees in lockdown. For the first time in Emmys history, there was no audience in attendance at the event and no live red carpet events preceding it.
Among the winners of the 2020 Creative Arts Emmys, presented virtually in the week leading up to TV’s big night Sept. 20 and hosted by Nicole Byer, were Pop TV’s comedy “Schitt’s Creek,” HBO’s drama “Succession” and limited series “Watchmen,” VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and “Star Wars” drama “The Mandalorian,” from new streaming giant Disney+.
The Sept. 19 ceremony, broadcast on FXX, brought both Netflix and HBO to a tie of Creative Arts Emmy wins, with 19 each. HBO’s “Bad Education” was crowned as outstanding TV movie. Taking home victories in the guest acting categories were Ron Cephas Jones of NBC’s “This Is Us” (following a production error that mistakenly named another winner), Cherry Jones of “Succession,” and Eddie Murphy and Maya Rudolph for the Murphy–hosted episode of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” (Rudolph, who also earned the voiceover performance Emmy for Netflix’s “Big Mouth,” bested herself in the guest comedy actress category over her turn in NBC’s “The Good Place.”)
After Kimmel kicked off the ceremony outlining safety procedures in place, the major comedy results were announced with a clean sweep for outstanding comedy series winner “Schitt’s Creek.” The show totaled nine Emmys, its first, and broke the record for most comedy series wins in a single season, with co-creator Daniel Levy winning statues for writing, co-directing, producing, and as supporting actor. Catherine O’Hara, Annie Murphy, and co-creator Eugene Levy also accepted acting trophies, marking the first time in the 72-year history of the Emmys that a comedy has swept all four acting categories in one year. The Levys’ small-budget sitcom about a wealthy family forced to relocate to a backwater town, which began in 2015 and recently aired its final season, was distributed by Canada’s Pop TV and aired in the U.S. on Netflix.
Regina King won her fourth Emmy in six years (with five total nominations since 2015) for “Watchmen,” and Mark Ruffalo earned his second for HBO’s limited series “I Know This Much Is True.” They and other winners, as well as several presenters, implored viewers to have a plan for voting in the upcoming general election. “If you have privilege, you have to fight for those who are less fortunate and more vulnerable,” said Ruffalo. “We are stronger together when we love each other and respect each other’s diversity.”
Governors Award recipient and Hollywood trailblazer Tyler Perry also used his speech to underline the importance of diverse voices in media, echoing stories included on the telecast from Issa Rae on her disappointing first TV pitch, Lena Waithe on the first time she felt seen on the small screen, and America Ferrera on being asked to act out stereotypes in an audition. Among the category presenters were essential workers including teachers, drivers, farmers, and medical professionals reporting from the frontlines of the pandemic.
“Watchmen,” adapted by Damon Lindelof as a sequel to the sci-fi graphic novel from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, continued its impressive showing, with wins for Lindelof and Cord Jefferson as co-writers, supporting actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and ultimately, outstanding limited series. The 11 total Emmys for “Watchmen” made it the night’s winningest show; in the final tally HBO earned 30 Emmys while Netflix netted 21.
Uzo Aduba won her third Emmy for her supporting role as congresswoman Shirley Chisholm on FX’s limited series “Mrs. America.” In the drama races, leading actors Jeremy Strong of “Succession” and Zendaya of HBO’s “Euphoria” earned their first Emmy statues. “I know this feels like a really weird time to be celebrating,” said the 24-year-old Zendaya, the drama actress category’s youngest ever winner. “But there is hope in the young people.” The supporting drama actor winners were Billy Crudup for AppleTV+’s “The Morning Show” and Julia Garner for Netflix’s “Ozark.” Closing out the ceremony, Jesse Armstrong’s “Succession” earned the trifecta of writing, directing, and outstanding drama series prizes.
For a full list of the 2020 Emmy Award winners and more, visit Emmys.com.
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