The people returned! One year after a mostly virtual Emmys, the award show was back to honor TV's finest, and this time there was an actual in-person audience. Wonderwall.com has the rundown on all the must-see moments that had people talking during the 73rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast in Los Angeles on Sept. 19, 2021… starting with the ratings… Following 2020's dismal numbers — the lowest ever for an Emmys ceremony, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic — ratings for the 2021 show rose 16% thanks to the return of a star-studded, in-person event. According to ViacomCBS, about 7.4 million viewers tuned in on Sunday night — an increase from 6.4 million in 2020.
Keep reading for more of the biggest moments from the 2021 Emmys that you might have missed…
"The Crown" cleans up
No surprise here, but the queen of the night was "The Crown." The Netflix drama was an Emmy darling, taking home a slew of acting and other prizes as well as the award for best drama series at the end of the night. Within the first hour of the show, Peter Morgan won for writing, Jessica Hobbs won for directing, Gillian Anderson won for best supporting actress (for her work as Margaret Thatcher) and Tobias Menzies won for best supporting actor (for his performance as Prince Philip). "I'm very proud, I'm very grateful. We're going to party," Peter said from the show's London-based party. Gillian used her time to dedicate her award to her longtime manager. Later in the show, two more big winners were announced: Olivia Colman (who played Queen Elizabeth II) won for best lead actress in a drama and seemed truly stunned; she began to cry, sharing her regret that her father, who died during the COVID-19 pandemic, wasn't here to see her win. Then Josh O'Connor (who played Prince Charles) was named best lead actor in a drama. The show's drama win was announced at the close of the night — just before the sun was set to rise in London, where the majority of the cast was gathered. With that win, "The Crown" made history: It's now the first series to sweep all seven drama categories during the Emmys. ("Schitt's Creek" pulled off the same feat in the comedy categories during the 2020 Emmys.)
RuPaul makes history
RuPaul has sashayed into the history books. With "RuPaul's Drag Race" winning for best competition program, "Mama Ru" claimed his 11th Emmy — the most wins ever by a Black person. Ru didn't mention the history-making moment in his speech. "Really thanks to all of our lovely children on our show from around the world," he said. "You know, they are so gracious to tell their stories of courage and how to navigate this difficult life [that was more difficult this year]. This is for you and for you kids out there watching. Come to Mama Ru."
An emotional win and a beautiful reunion
Could the ever-optimistic Ted Lasso foresee Jason Sudeikis's Emmys win? The "Saturday Night Live" alum took home his first Emmy on Sept. 19 for his performance as the titular soccer coach on the Apple TV+ series "Ted Lasso." In his speech, Jason thanked his team and everyone who helped him along the way, including "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels. Well, he tried to. Lorne, it seems, wasn't in his seat when Jason won. "I want to thank Lorne, who went to take a dump just now. Perfect," Jason said. He then joked, "He loves watching the Emmys at home. The question is, which home?" But Jason did reunite with Lorne — and the two shared an emotional hug backstage. Jason took the stage again at the end of the night when "Ted Lasso" also won the coveted best comedy series prize.
Keep reading to see who else from "Ted Lasso" took home Emmy gold…
Fan favorites take home Emmy gold
Apple TV+ officially tossed its lasso around the Emmys. "Ted Lasso" began the show with a pair of victors. The first award of the night went to the "boss woman," Hannah Waddingham, as she won the best supporting actress in a comedy prize. Directly afterward, Brett Goldstein, who plays curmudgeonly and foul-mouthed aging footballer Roy Kent, won best supporting actor in a comedy. "I was very, very specifically told I wasn't allowed to swear," he said before launching into a slew of expletives, which were bleeped out by censors. He added, "This cast makes me sick they're so good." They are good, and the awards obviously reflected that fact.
The opening rap
Comedian Cedric the Entertainer hosted the 2021 Emmys ceremony, and he promised before the show that it would be a celebration. He kicked things off with a love letter to TV with a rap set to the tune of the late Biz Markie hit "Just a Friend." "TV, you got what I need, but you say he's just a friend," he rapped. Others joined in including Rita Wilson, LL Cool J, Mandy Moore, Anthony Anderson and, well, everyone.
"The Queen's Gambit" had its moment at the end of the Emmys, winning the last award of the night, for outstanding limited series. Although star Anya Taylor-Joy didn't speak on stage, executive producer William Horberg gave her a nod, telling her, she "brought the sexy back to chess" and inspired a whole generation. He added, "Patriarchy has no defense against our queens."
Kate the great takes home second Emmy
It was a big night for the stars of "Mare of Easttown." The HBO show now boasts Emmy Award winners Kate Winslet, Evan Peters and Julianne Nicholson, all three of whom won acting awards in the limited or anthology series or movie categories (it was the first Emmy for Evan and Julianne). In his speech, Evan thanked his parents for moving to Los Angeles and added, "We're drinking tonight." Julianne thanked Kate, saying, "I owe this to you." Kate, who is now a two-time Emmy winner, congratulated her fellow nominees in beautiful fashion. "I just want to acknowledge my fellow nominees in this decade that has to be about women having each other's backs," she said. "I support you, I salute you, I'm proud of all of you."
Death, taxes and "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" winning best variety talk series and best writing for a variety talk series. For the sixth year in a row, the HBO show won both awards, but John didn't seem to want it this year. "Like everyone in this room, I was rooting for [Conan O'Brien] so this is bittersweet," he said while accepting the Emmy for variety talk series. In June, Conan ended his late night TV run after 28 years. John also paid homage to the late, great Norm Macdonald — who died earlier in the week after a secret nine-year cancer battle — and also urged everyone to watch YouTube clips of the comedian. "No one was funnier," John said.
Conan's controversial moment
Conan O'Brien didn't win an Emmy, but he might have stolen the night. After the CEO of the Television Academy, Frank Scherma, came on stage to announce a special award, the former late night host began screaming loudly. Very loudly. The crowd laughed hysterically, as did much of Twitter. However, some weren't feeling it, as the award being given out was the coveted Governor's Award, which went to Debbie Allen for her numerous contributions to television. Some felt Conan upstaged Debbie with his antics. For every tweet that cheered for Conan, there was another criticizing him. Even Wanda Sykes tweeted, "Conan is giving no F's tonight!"
A big upset, a bittersweet anniversary
These people aren't hacks! The HBO Max show "Hacks" pulled off the first upset of the show, with Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky besting the "Ted Lasso" scribes in the comedy writing category and Lucia Aniello beating "Ted" in the comedy directing category. "Hacks" star Jean Smart won the award for best actress in a comedy, much to the delight of the Emmys audience, which gave her a prolonged standing ovation. During her speech, Jean thanked her late husband, Richard Gilliland, who suddenly passed away six months and one day earlier. "I would not be here without him, without him putting his wonderful career on the back burner," Jean said.
"WandaVision" star and first-time Emmy nominee Elizabeth Olsen turned to her family to dress her for the 2021 Emmys: Her big sisters — former child TV stars-turned-fashion magnates Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen — designed the "WandaVision" star's voluminous creamy white gown. It's by their luxury label The Row.
How exactly did the Emmys stay COVID safe? All attendees were required to provide proof of vaccination. In addition, guests had to have a negative COVID test within 48 hours of the ceremony. Meanwhile, attendance was limited, and the traditional Governors Ball wasn't held this year. The restrictions were apparent to the celebrities on hand. Jennifer Coolidge mentioned the "layers" of precautions while speaking on E!'s red carpet pre-show. Catherine Zeta-Jones said, "They did a really good job. I can't imagine what the logistics are like." Her husband, Michael Douglas, who was nominated for best lead actor in a comedy, added, "There are a lot of precautions, but it's a safe place." In his opening monologue, Cedric the Entertainer made a few quips about the precautions, joking, "I got vaxxed. I did not have a reaction like Nicki Minaj's cousin's friend," which drew plenty of laughs.
The men bring the most fun fashion
Sorry, ladies, but male stars including Bowen Yang, Billy Porter and Josh O'Connor gave Emmy Awards viewers some of the best and wildest accessories on the red carpet. See some of their unexpected — but incredibly stylish — looks here.
A history-making night for trans actress Mj Rodriguez
Even though she did not win on Sept. 19, Mj Rodriguez has already broken the mold. The "Pose" star was the first trans woman to be nominated for best lead actress at the Emmys. (She ultimately lost to "The Crown" star Olivia Colman.) "I just want to constantly keep making that change," she told Variety. "I want to constantly keep making history. I want to be at the front of change. … I am testimony that it is possible. There's no excuses. The door is wide open and you can run right through it. There's no crack. There's no slipping in." While she's proud of her accomplishments, Mj hopes that a similar nomination in the future will be par for the course. "I do believe at some point, and I pray, that it won't be the headline of everything," she told People magazine. "Instead it will just be the actress who just so happens to be trans."
The Susan Lucci of the Primetime Emmys?
Did the steak end? No. Anthony Anderson is essentially primetime television's Susan Lucci, as he continues to be nominated for Emmys but can't seem to take one home. This year, he was up for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for the seventh time for his performance on "black-ish." But "Ted Lasso" star Jason Sudeikis took home the prize on Sept. 19. Anthony is also an executive producer on "black-ish," and the series has been nominated four times. But "Ted Lasso" also won in that category on Sept. 19. "I was ready for the nomination streak to end a long time ago. This is the seventh nomination. Eleven total, but yeah, I'm done with the nomination part," he told People magazine before the show. "It's time for a win. I'll be honest. It's time for a win." "All My Children" star Susan, by the way, eventually won an Emmy in 1999 after 19 nominations. Anthony, it CAN still happen!
"The Crown" throws a party in London
Most of the stars from "The Crown" — the most-nominated show of the night — were not on hand at the ceremony in Los Angeles at L.A. Live's Event Deck, but they were still partying in style. The cast and producers of the Netflix show held their own Emmy viewing party in London — where they shoot the show — much like the team behind "Schitt's Creek" did in Canada during the 2020 telecast. The royal event of the year? Absolutely. All hail the queen!
An Emmy shy of an EGOT
History was almost made on Sept. 19, as a music star could have ended Emmys night as an EGOT winner. Alas, he did not. David Byrne, the 69-year-old frontman for the band Talking Heads, has already won a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony over the course of his career. He's an Emmy shy of joining the prestigious club, which only includes 16 people. But he lost the Emmy for outstanding pre-recorded variety special — for "American Utopia" — to "Hamilton."
Mandy's must-have accessory
Mandy Moore was clearly feeling pumped about this Emmys accessory. Prior to the ceremony, the "This Is Us" star posted a photo on her Instagram Story of her Motif Luna breast pump. "Tonight's MVP accessory," she captioned the pic. Sunday marks Mandy's first Emmys as a mother, as she and husband Taylor Goldsmith welcomed son August "Gus" Harrison in February. See more stars prepping for and celebrating the Emmys on social media here.