It was a great night for The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies at the 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, but for leading contenders Stranger Things, Westworld and Feud, TV’s biggest event had small rewards.
Despite high expectations, the Netflix series from the Duffer Brothers, the HBO series starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Murphy and FX’s examination of the battle between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were left out of the major categories tonight.
While Hulu became the first streaming service to win a coveted Best Series prize, the Elisabeth Moss-led adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel matched Big Little Lies with the most victories with five. Helping to headline those trophies, Moss beat out Westworld’s Evan Rachel Wood for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama, while Nicole Kidman won Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series or Movie for her Big Little Lies performance. She was pitted against her co-star Reese Witherspoon as well as Feud’s Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange, plus American Crime’s Felicity Huffman and Fargo’s Carrie Coon.
So what was the deal?
STRANGER THINGS: With a total of 18 nominations, Stranger Things managed five Creative Arts wins last week, with Emmys for Main Title Design and Theme. But it’d be disingenuous to say Netflix’s runaway genre hit was all about its opening titles, even though it was a complete shutout in the main show this evening. Creators Matt and Ross Duffer lost out on in the lead Drama Series category as well as for Writing and Directing. And Millie Bobby Brown, nominated for Supporting Actress, couldn’t convert in her effort to become the youngest-ever Emmy winner. If she had, she’d have bested Roxana Zal—who won in the same category in 1984 when she was 14—by a full year. Her co-star, David Harbour, lost out on the Supporting Actor prize to The Crown’s John Lithgow.
As for The Crown, which had a strong show at the Golden Globes shortly after its debut last year, failed to last the distance. Lithgow’s win was the show’s only success tonight.
WESTWORLD: Coming into tonight tied with Saturday Night Live with a leading 22 nominations and already having racked up five wins at the Creative Emmys, the series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 movie looked to be a strong contender. Not only were Hopkins, Wood, Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright up for big acting awards, but the show itself was nominated for Outstanding Drama.
Unlike NBC’s SNL, which took home Outstanding Variety Sketch series plus wins for Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon among others, the android theme park series got unplugged.
FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN: In any other year, the eight-episodes spotlight on one of Hollywood’s most well-known rivalries would have likely seemed an almost sure thing. With 18 nominations (tied with Stranger Things), the first installment of the FX anthology series from Murphy, Jeff Cohrn and Michael Zam had powerhouses like past Emmy and Oscar winner Lange, Oscar winner Sarandon, Oscar nominee Judy Davis and past Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci in the race.
Currently fighting Hollywood icon Olivia de Havilland in the courts over her depiction in the show, Feud was also up for Outstanding Limited Series, a Directing nom, two Writing nominations and an Outstanding Supporting nom for Jackie Hoffman.
Yes, the show scored two Creative Emmys last week, but in the end tonight Feud fizzled and Big Little Lies had the bounce.