So it be, so it is, as Cousin Greg would say: “Succession” had a fittingly successful sendoff at the Emmys, the addictive saga of the roiling Roy family dynasty winning best drama for a third time and five more awards, including three top acting prizes.
But “Succession” was not the only show to make a ludicrously capacious haul. “The Bear” had a bearish night indeed, fully dominating the comedy category in its first season, winning the top prize and three acting awards.
And the chaotic, darkly humorous “Beef” was the other big victor, winning best limited series, with leads Steven Yeun and Ali Wong becoming the first Asian Americans to win in their categories. Also making history: star Quinta Brunson of “Abbott Elementary,” the first Black winner in her category since 1981.
It was not a night of upsets, with most predictions holding. But it was not without pleasant surprises, including a series of cast reunions of beloved shows — some more effective than others — like “The Sopranos,” “Cheers,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Ally McBeal” and more. Natasha Lyonne and Tracee Ellis Ross filled their mouths with bonbons in a throwback to the classic “I Love Lucy” candy assembly line scene.
There was a lot of kid talk on the podium, with John Oliver beseeching the crowd to tell him where to buy Pokemon cards for his kids, Sarah Snook of “Succession” paying tribute to her own newborn daughter, and her co-star Kieran Culkin actually telling his wife he wanted more kids.
Hopefully those kids will be as nice to their mama as host Anthony Anderson, who knew just how to delegate, giving Mom Doris a key job.
For details, and other notable moments of the night, read on:
A SMOOTH HOST…
Anderson had said before the show that the pressure was off. He meant because he wasn’t nominated this year, but he could also have meant that his hosting gig had to go more smoothly than that of Jo Koy at the Golden Globes. Indeed it did, perhaps partly because Anderson wasn’t trying to roast any celebrities. Plugging into the nostalgia theme of the show’s 75th anniversary, Anderson began with his own version of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” hanging up his coat, sitting at a piano and singing themes for TV classics, like “Good Times” and “The Facts of Life.” Anderson then asked winners to keep their speeches tight, and introduced his secret weapon.
…AND HIS MAMA!
“When you see my Mama coming, just thank Jesus and your family and wrap it up,” the host said. And indeed, Doris Bowman, in the front seats, made appearances throughout the night, the human equivalent of play-off music. Bowman illustrated her power early, interrupting her own son’s opening monologue by telling him. “Time’s up, baby.” Then she certainly seemed to keep winner Jennifer Coolidge in check. Oliver tried to test the new system after winning best scripted variety show: “I’m not leaving without being played off by Anthony Anderson’s mom. So I’m going to start reading off the names of the Liverpool football team.” When she popped up, he quickly said: “I’d like to thank Jesus and my family. Thank you.”
A CLASS REUNION YEAR
Lorraine Bracco and Michael Imperioli from “The Sopranos” celebrated the 25th anniversary of the show’s premiere with a moment in a therapist’s office. The cast of “Ally McBeal” had a dancing reunion amid bathroom stalls. Some “Grey’s Anatomy” cast members — including Ellen Pompeo, Katherine Heigl and Chandra Wilson, but no Sandra Oh and no McDreamy! – gathered in a hospital room for a victory lap as the longest medical drama in TV history. Anderson honored “Game of Thrones” wearing a massive fur-lined cloak. And “Cheers” drew cheers with a reunion of stars Ted Danson, Kelsey Grammer, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger and George Wendt, who was greeted by his signature “Norm!” scream. Also appearing: Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers, the surviving cast members of “All in the Family,” and the casts of “Martin” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
‘SUCCESSION’ COMES OUT ON TOP
It was a seemingly endless succession of “Succession” winners trooping to the stage on a final triumphant night for the HBO drama. Matthew Macfadyen, who played “human grease stain” Tom Wamsbgans, as he described his character at the Globes, won best supporting actor for a second time and kept his speech to thanking Snook and “my other onscreen wife,” Nicholas Braun, who played hapless Cousin Greg: “Acting with you has been one of the most wonderful things in my career.” Snook, winning best actress as the very, very complicated Shiv Roy, spoke about how being pregnant helped her acting because it sent the hormones flowing, and told her recently arrived baby daughter: ”It’s all for you, from here on out.” Kieran Culkin, in an emotional speech, thanked his wife, Jazz, for two amazing kids, and threw in a tiny request: “And Jazz, I want more. You said maybe, if I win!”
A BIG BEAR HUG, ER, KISS
Could “The Bear” replicate its success from the Golden Globes? Yes, chef, with Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri winning for best actor and best supporting actress in a comedy, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach winning a supporting actor award. Onstage, Moss-Bachrach gave costar Matty Matheson a comically long kiss before Matheson saluted the show, which dramatizes the sacrifices people in the restaurant business make: “I just love restaurants so much. The good, the bad. It’s rough. We’re all broken inside and every single day we gotta show up and cook and make people feel good by eating something and sitting at a table. It’s really beautiful.”
BURNETT HAILS “PROGRESS”
Big-name actors became fanboys and fangirls in the presence of Carol Burnett, 90, the f irst woman to host a variety show. A standing ovation greeted the veteran comedienne, who had an immediate zinger: “A lot has changed in the last 46 years. For the better. Progress has been made and it truly warms my heart to see how men are doing in comedy,” the seven-time Emmy-winner said. Christina Applegate introduced Burnett by saying she has only one picture of herself framed — with Burnett. “She is more important to me than any of you,” Applegate said.
BRUNSON’S HISTORIC WIN
Another star awed by Burnett was the woman who received her prize from her: Brunson, the“Abbott Elementary” star and writer who won best actress in a comedy series, the first Black winner in the category since Isabel Sanford won in Norman Lear’s classic “The Jeffersons” in 1981. “I am so happy to be able to live my dream and act out comedy,” said Brunson, a previous winner for writing the show. The first hour of the Emmys — held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day — saw three Black women win major awards: Brunson, Edebiri and Niecy Nash-Betts, who won best supporting actress in a limited series for “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.”
THANKING THE PERSON WHO BELIEVED IN YOU
Many award winners thank the person who first believed in them. Nash-Betts did, too – with blazing honesty — and it was herself. “I’m a winner, baby!” she said. “And you know who I wanna thank? Me, for believing in me and doing what they said I could not do. I want to say to myself, in front of all you beautiful people — Go girl, with your bad self. You did that.”
On the Netflix show, Nash-Betts played a neighbor of the serial killer whose complaints to authorities about his behavior go unheeded. “I accept this award on behalf of every Black and brown woman who has gone unheard yet overpoliced, like Glenda Cleveland, like Sandra Bland, like Breonna Taylor,” she said. “As an artist, my job is to speak truth to power and baby, I’m gonna do it until the day I die. Mama, I won!”