Much of the team behind "The Crown" gathered at the Soho House in London during the 73rd Emmy Awards Sunday to await their fate. As it turns out, producers should have considered squeezing the rest of the TV industry into the posh club.
After being nominated three times in the past, the series chronicling Queen Elizabeth II's reign was named outstanding drama series, the first Netflix show ever to triumph in that category.
"We're going to have a party now," said creator Peter Morgan who was also recognized for his writing.
"Crown" swept the acting categories Sunday with honors going to Gillian Anderson, Tobias Menzies, Josh O'Connor and Olivia Colman.
Emma Corrin's layered portrayal of Princess Diana made her a favorite in the lead actress race, but she was upended by Colman, even though the Oscar winner's role as the queen was more of a supporting one this past season.
"I would have put money on that not happening," Colman said.
It was a great night overall for the United Kingdom. London native Michaela Coel delivered one of the evening's most moving speeches after her win for writing "I Will Destroy You," a mini-series about a woman trying to rebuild her life after being raped.
"Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn't comfortable," she said before dedicating her win to sexual-assault victims. "I dare you."
Scotland's Ewan McGregor took home an award for the little seen "Halston." Kate Winslet, who previously won for "Mildred Pierce," was back in the winner's circle thanks to "Mare of Easttown."
Her detective thriller dominated in several key acting categories, but in the end it lost to "The Queen's Gambit" for best limited series. That program was about chess, not royal intrigue, but it captured the can-do, optimistic spirit viewers were so hungry for during the pandemic.
The same could be said for the evening's other big champ, "Ted Lasso." Early in the broadcast, "Hacks" picked up awards for lead actress, writing and directing, suggesting the HBO series about an aging comedian could pull off a major upset.
But ultimately, "Lasso" which revolves around an English soccer team, could not be denied.
Jason Sudeikis joined Bill Hader as the only "Saturday Night Live" veteran to be honored as best actor in a comedy series. His acceptance speech was subdued, at least compared to his co-stars Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein, who won for their supporting roles.
"Jesus Christ on a bike!" said Waddingham in accepting the award.
The ceremonies opened with a wonderfully ridiculous musical number. LL Cool J teamed up with unlikely rappers, including Rita Wilson, for a revised version of "Just a Friend" by Biz Markie, who died in July.
The atmosphere may have been a little too festive.
"There is way too many of us in this little room," said presenter Seth Rogen while addressing the celebrity attendees, many of who incorporated bright colors into their outfits. "It's more important that we have three chandeliers than that we make sure we don't kill Eugene Levy tonight."
But there also were somber moments.
Many in attendance had tears in their eyes when Jean Smart was honored for her work in "Hacks." Her win was no surprise, but most knew that the beloved star had lost her husband six months ago.
The annual in memoriam was more moving than usual. Leon Bridges performed his ballad, "River," (with help from Jon Batiste) as pictures of Ed Asner, Alex Trebek, Larry King and Cicely Tyson flashed by.
Menzies' win for his portrayal of Prince Philip surely disappointed those hoping voters would honor "Lovecraft Country's" Michael K. Williams, who died earlier this month. But Kerry Washington gave him a shoutout before announcing the winner of his category.
"Michael was — it's crazy to say was — a brilliantly talented actor and generous human being who left us far too soon," she said.
Norm Macdonald, who passed away last week, was also acknowledged. Lorne Michaels, the most nominated individual in Emmy history, dedicated the "Saturday Night Live" win for outstanding variety sketch series to the late "Weekend Update" anchor.
John Oliver recommended viewers look back at clips of Macdonald's appearances with Conan O'Brien. When "Last Week Tonight" was named best variety series for the sixth year in a row, Oliver acknowledged nominee O'Brien, who ended his TBS series "Conan," this year.
"Like many in this room, I was kind of rooting for Conan," Oliver said. "So this is bittersweet."
But O'Brien may have gotten the last laugh. When Academy president Frank Scherma came out to give a speech, O'Brien cajoled the crowd into a standing ovation and then stood in salute for far too long, earning some of the biggest laughs of the night.
Later in the evening, he bounded up on stage to bask in the accolades for Stephen Colbert's election special, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with the show.
The only way Conan could have topped his shenanigans is if he had found a way to zip over to London before the closing credits and chug pints with "The Crown" cast.
Neal Justin • 612-673-7431