Best drama Emmy for The Handmaid's Tale

Elisabeth Moss won the best actress Emmy for her role in The Handmaid's Tale, which picked up five awards in total.
Elisabeth Moss won the best actress Emmy for her role in The Handmaid's Tale, which picked up five awards in total.PHOTO: REUTERS
Host Stephen Colbert (above) declared United States President Donald Trump the biggest story of the year in television.
Host Stephen Colbert (above) declared United States President Donald Trump the biggest story of the year in television.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Alec Baldwin (above) won best supporting actor in a comedy series for his portrayal of Mr Trump in Saturday Night Live.
Alec Baldwin (above) won best supporting actor in a comedy series for his portrayal of Mr Trump in Saturday Night Live.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • It was inevitable that a streaming service would win an Emmy for best drama at some point. But no one expected Hulu to get there first.

Hulu's dystopian adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale won television's most prestigious prize on Sunday night, even though the streaming service has a smaller programming budget than its competitors, Netflix and Amazon.

The show, based on Margaret Atwood's novel of the same name, won four other prizes, including a first best actress Emmy for Elisabeth Moss, formerly of Mad Men (2007-2015).

The book depicts a world in which fertility rates have fallen and women are subjugated. The few fertile women are captured and forced to help wealthy families procreate. Many viewers and critics have drawn parallels to the current state of politics and the ascension of right-wing politicians across the West.

The success of Handmaid's came during a decidedly political ceremony.

Saturday Night Live (SNL) also stormed the Emmys, winning the best variety sketch category for the first time in more than two decades.

  • Key winners

  • Outstanding drama series

    The Handmaid's Tale Comedy series Veep

    Lead actor, drama

    Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

    Lead actress, drama

    Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid's Tale

    Lead actor, comedy

    Donald Glover, Atlanta

    Lead actress, comedy

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

    Supporting actor, drama

    John Lithgow, The Crown

    Supporting actress, drama

    Ann Dowd, The Handmaid's Tale

    Supporting actor, comedy

    Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live

    Supporting actress, comedy

    Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

    Limited series

    Big Little Lies

    Lead actor, limited series or movie

    Riz Ahmed, The Night Of

    Lead actress, limited series or movie

    Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies

    Television movie

    Black Mirror episode San Junipero

    Reality competition programme

    The Voice

    Variety talk series

    Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

    Variety sketch series

    Saturday Night Live


Accepting that Emmy, the longtime executive producer of SNL, Mr Lorne Michaels, said he thought the show would never have a season as "crazy, as unpredictable, as frightening, as exhausting or as exhilarating" as the show's first in the mid- 1970s.

"Turns out I was wrong," he said.

The show's feature players swept the supporting comedy acting awards, with wins for Alec Baldwin, for his portrayal of United States President Donald Trump; and Kate McKinnon, who played presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Attorney-General Jeff Sessions (among other characters).

Baldwin quipped: "I should just say, at long last Mr President, here's your Emmy."

Mr Trump was at the top of everyone's mind all night.

From the Emmys stage, he was invoked again and again and it was usually charged. "I want to thank Trump for making black people No. 1 on the most oppressed list," actor-director Donald Glover said as he accepted one of his two awards (best lead actor in a comedy series and best directing in a comedy series) for the FX comedy Atlanta.

In his opening monologue, host Stephen Colbert declared Mr Trump the biggest story of the year in TV, then introduced a surprise guest, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who walked onstage pushing a podium in a severely self-deprecatory homage to Melissa McCarthy's impersonation of him on SNL.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus made history. With her sixth consecutive win for best actress in a comedy as Selina Meyer in Veep, she tied for Cloris Leachman's record for eight prime-time acting Emmys. She also set the record for the number of wins by an actor playing one character, breaking a tie with Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown) and Don Knotts (The Andy Griffith Show).

Louis-Dreyfus declared her character (who has gone from vice-president to president to ex-president over the last six seasons) as the "role of a lifetime and an adventure of utter joy". She added: "We did have a whole storyline about impeachment, but we abandoned it because we were worried that someone else might get to that first."

Veep also won best comedy for the third year in a row.

HBO's soapy and glossy Big Little Lies won best variety series, beating its main rival, FX's period drama Feud, about the Hollywood rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.

Amid some intense competition, Nicole Kidman won her first Emmy for best actress in a limited series for her portrayal of an abused wife in Big Little Lies. Four Oscar winners were nominated in the category, including Kidman, Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies), Susan Sarandon (Feud) and Jessica Lange (Feud). "It's been an incredible year for women in television," said Witherspoon, an executive producer of Big Little Lies.

Laura Dern and Alexander Skarsgard won in supporting acting categories to round out a dominant showing from Big Little Lies.

Riz Ahmed won best actor in a limited series or movie for his breakout role in HBO's The Night Of. And Netflix won best TV movie for Black Mirror.

The night's big winner among networks was a traditional powerhouse, premium-cable channel HBO, even in a year without Game Of Thrones. It took home the most Emmys for the 16th straight year, winning 29, compared with Netflix's 20.

Its triumph capped a year when networks took Emmys campaigning to a new level, spending millions to market shows before nominations were handed out.

There was no player more ostentatious than Netflix. The streaming service opened up its 2,230 sq m event space this spring, holding nearly daily parties to put potential Emmy voters in front of talent, free dinners and an open bar.

Nevertheless, Netflix once again fell short of winning best drama, despite the fact that its shows made up nearly half of the nominations in the category.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline 'Best drama Emmy for The Handmaid's Tale'. Subscribe