The Emmy awards are turning 70 this year, and the platinum anniversary of television’s biggest night promises to be full of memorable moments, whether it’s hilarious jokes, heartfelt speeches, or completely unexpected surprises.
Michael Che and Colin Jost are hosting the Emmys live on NBC from Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theatre on Monday, September 17. Lorne Michaels is executive producing the ceremony, so with that match-up there’s sure to be numerous nods to SNL (and cameos from cast members throughout the night).
The Opening Number
Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson kicked off the proceedings with a tongue-in-cheek musical number titled “We Solved It” about all the issues of inclusion and harassment in Hollywood (that are far from solved). Kristen Bell and Titus Burgess hopped in to lend some Broadway-level vocal chops to the ditty, and others, including Sterling K. Brown, RuPaul, Ricky Martin, and Andy Samberg jumped into the fray before a phone call informed them they had not, in fact, “solved it.” The number closed with a dance routine from the “One of Each” dancers and some genuine musical stylings from John Legend.
Henry Winkler wins…after 43 years
The Fonz finally has an Emmy! Despite three Emmy nominations for his iconic role on Happy Days (and six overall), Winkler had never won an Emmy before taking home the gold for his work as Gene Cousineau on Barry. Taking the stage in an exciting frenzy, Winkler proclaimed, “I wrote this 43 years ago!” He poignantly stated, “If you stay at the table long enough, the chips come to you, and tonight, I got to clear the table” before going on to thank a long list of individuals.
Alex Borstein de-robes
Before accepting the Emmy for best supporting actress in a comedy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Alex Borstein had an epic wardrobe adjustment, untying her robe and tossing it to the side in a delicious on-camera moment. Borstein made an emotional speech thanking her father, but still found time for comedy telling the women in the audience, “Ladies when you use a public restroom sit down. If you sit, we can all sit.” She also joked about going bra-less for the evening, and according to a tweet from Glamour, Borstein’s dress was her wedding dress in the ceremony to her ex-husband.
Teddy Perkins is in the audience
Blink and you’ll miss it, but Donald Glover’s headline-grabbing Atlanta character Teddy Perkins (Glover in white face) made an appearance in the audience during the best actor in a comedy category. We can only assume if Glover had won, he would have taken the stage.
Michael Douglas has a message for the losers
While presenting, Michael Douglas, who won an Emmy for Behind the Candelabra in 2013, but had lost four times previously, had a message for Emmy losers. “Carry that rage. Let it fuel everything you do from this night forward. Know that you were cheated. You were robbed,” he joked. “That’s a fact. Let that fire burn in your belly until your cold dead body is in a pine box six-feet deep clutching all its Emmys to its chest.”
Jeff Daniels thanks his horse
Jeff Daniels won his second Emmy for his villainous turn on Netflix’s Western Godless, and he took the moment to thank his equine co-star. “I’d like to thank my horse,” Daniels deadpanned. “He was Jeff Bridges’ horse on True Grit, and I felt he was making unfair comparisons.” Daniels also revealed the horse threw him three times during filming, breaking his wrist the third time.
Regina King thanks Jesus
King took home her third Emmy, this one for Netflix’s Seven Seconds, and sat stunned as they called her name. She explained she dropped lipstick on her dress and was struggling to get it out before thanking Netflix and her collaborators. Then, still, in shock, she declared, “I want to curse right now. This is good.” Seemingly in response to Michael Che’s joke in the opening monologue, she thanked Jesus with a pointed call-out to Che.
Darren Criss wins his first Emmy
The always earnest Criss won his first Emmy for his dark turn as serial killer Andrew Cunanan in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Giani Versace and thanked Ryan Murphy and his family in a heartfelt speech. “Mom, Dad, Chuck [his brother] unlike the character I played, I was lucky enough to be raised in a home that was very loving,” he said, before praising his family for instilling in him the value of hard work. Criss also thanked his fiancé, Mia, with a poetic statement: “You roll the windows down and pump the music up in my life.” The University of Michigan alum also threw in a nod to his alma mater, ending by saying, “Go Blue.”
Dad jokes with Sterling K. Brown and Ron Cephas Jones
Brown and Jones, who play father and son on NBC’s This Is Us, treated the audience to some dad jokes including one about the cat being on fire, which Brown declared sad enough to be used on their show.
Glenn Weiss proposes to his girlfriend
After winning his fourteenth Primetime Emmy, Oscars director Glenn Weiss shocked the audience and his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen, by proposing on live television. He addressed her saying, “You wonder why I don’t like to call you my girlfriend — because I want to call you my wife.” The entire audience responded in shock, including a priceless cutaway of Leslie Jones, before she took the stage for his full proposal. “This is the ring my dad puts on my mom’s finger 67 years ago,” Weiss said, before slipping it on her finger.
The Emmys staged a particularly moving In Memoriam segment this year, underscored by Aretha Franklin’s recording of “Amazing Grace,” which triggered the waterworks before even delving into the montage of those we’ve lost over the last year.
Hannah Gadsby has a moment
The Australian comedian who became a sensation with her Netflix special Nanette had one of the funniest moments of the night when she took the stage to present the award for best directing of a drama series. She joked that she was invited to present alone and how great the opportunity was, noting, “This nobody from nowhere gets this sweet gig, just ’cause I don’t like men….That’s a joke, fellas: calm down. Hashtag #notallmen –– but a lot of them!” Gadsby proved she could deliver jokes better than a large portion of the SNL alums and cast featured in the broadcast.
Claire Foy classes up the joint
After missing out on it last year, Claire Foy finally took home an Emmy for her career-making performance as Queen Elizabeth II on Netflix’s The Crown. She paid tribute to all the woman in her category, marveling at their “extraordinary performances” before getting choked up about the end of her time on the show. “I had the most extraordinary two and a half years of my life,” she said. Foy found herself at the center of outrage earlier this year when it was revealed her co-star Matt Smith had a higher salary, but Foy put all of that to rest, stating, “I also dedicate this to Matt Smith.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race wins at last
After being robbed of the award for several years, beloved reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race finally took home the Emmy for best reality competition series. The category received an off-the-wall presenter set-up with the animated Rick and Morty announcing the winner. RuPaul thanked the Academy “on behalf of 140 drag queens we’ve released into the wild,” before closing with one of his signature lines, “To all the dreamers out there, if you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love anybody else? Can I get an Amen?” The show took home awards at last week’s Creative Arts Emmys, including best reality host for RuPaul.
Ryan Murphy dedicates his Emmy to victims of LGBTQ hate crimes
Accepting the Emmy for best limited series for American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, showrunner Ryan Murphy dedicated his win to victims of hate crimes. “It’s about homophobia, internalized and externalized; it’s about a country that allows hatred to grow unfettered and unchecked,” he said of the show, before adding, “One out of every 4 LGBTQ people in this country will be the victim of a hate crime. We dedicate this award to them, we dedicate this award to awareness, to stricter hate crime laws.” Murphy closed by paying tribute to Andrew Cunanan’s victims, saying “This is for the memory of Jeff and David and Gianni and all of those taken too soon.”
Check back here throughout the evening for live updates on the most memorable moments from the 70th annual Emmy awards.