‘Fleabag’ steals the show at the Emmys

Phoebe Waller-Bridge (speaking) and fellow cast and crew members of 'Fleabag' accept the Outstanding Comedy Series award onstage during the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

LOS ANGELES — In a fond farewell, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” won the Emmy for best drama series Sunday evening, honoring the show’s final season, but the upstart British comedy “Fleabag” stole the ceremony with four wins, including an upset triumph as best comedy series.

A pair of first-time winners took home the acting prizes in the drama categories, with Billy Porter winning for FX’s “Pose” and Julia Comer named best drama actress for BBC America’s “Killing Eve.” Porter became the first openly gay black man to win the dramatic actor Emmy — and it left him an Oscar away from earning an EGOT, having previously won a Tony and a Grammy.

“There were so many people who helped me get here along the way, so I’m just going to say thank you,” Porter told the crowd at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. ” … We are the people, we as artists are the people that get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet. Please don’t ever stop doing that. Please don’t ever stop telling the truth.”

While accepting her award, Comer lamented failing to invite her parents to the ceremony. “My mom and dad who are in Liverpool who I didn’t invite because I didn’t think this was going to be my time,” she said. “One, I’m sorry. Two, I love you. I’m going to bring it home.”

“Game of Thrones” won just two Emmys Sunday, for best drama and a supporting-actor prize for Peter Dinklage, but that was enough to tie its own record — 12 — for number of Emmys won by a show in a single season. The program won 10 prizes last weekend during the Creative Arts Emmy Award ceremonies.

The celebrated series, which debuted in 2011 and ended its 73-episode run on May 19, also padded its record for Emmy wins by a scripted series, upping its overall total to 59.

The show has won the Emmy for outstanding drama series each of the last four years it was eligible. It wasn’t eligible for the 2017 award because its only new episodes airing during the eligibility period were part of the body of work considered for its 2016 victory.

The win for Dinklage was his fourth in the supporting-actor category. “I count myself so fortunate to be a member of a community that is nothing but all about tolerance and diversity, because (in) no other place could I be standing on a stage like this,” Dinklage told the crowd to cheers.

He said he remembers having no idea what he was getting into when he began on “Game of Thrones.” “We literally walked through fire and ice for you, and I would do it again in a heartbeat,” he said of the show’s producers.

Julia Garner won her first career Emmy for her supporting work in Netflix’s “Ozark.” “I love playing Ruth so much, and every single day I feel so lucky to be doing this,” she said. “Yeah, this is special. … I’ll remember this forever.”

“Ozark” also earned a drama directing prize for its star, Jason Bateman.

For all the attention focused on “Game of Thrones” heading into the ceremony, it was Amazon’s “Fleabag” that stole the night.

The comic story of a grief-stricken British woman’s effort to cope with life while dealing with tragedy, “Fleabag” picked up four Emmys. In addition to its win for best comedy series, “Fleabag” creator Phoebe Waller- Bridge picked up prizes for lead actress in a comedy series and writing for a comedy. It also won for comedy series directing by Harry Bradbeer.

“The journey has been absolutely mental to get here and I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s been involved,” Waller-Bridge said.

The show’s dominance spoiled the farewell of another HBO series, “Veep,” which was considered a heavy favorite in the comedy category. “Veep,” which ended its seven-season run on May 12, won the outstanding comedy series Emmy each year from 2015 through 2017. Its final season was delayed to allow star Julia Louis-Dreyfus enough time to recuperate after undergoing chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.

Louis-Dreyfus was also considered a heavy favorite to win the comedy acting prize, but she was bested by Waller-Bridge. “This means a huge amount to me,” an overwhelmed Waller-Bridge said as she accepted the lead-actress prize. She heaped praise on her co-stars and crew, saying, “It’s sickening how much we love each other.”

Bill Hader won his second consecutive Emmy for lead actor in a comedy series for his work in HBO’s “Barry.” He jokingly gave credit for his success to series co-creator Alec Berg, saying after each take Berg would flatly say, “Eh, let’s move on,” or “Eh, let’s go again.”

“I want to thank you for molding my performance, Alec,” he said. “I don’t know where I would be without you, friend.”

Tony Shalhoub won his fourth career Emmy, picking up a prize for best supporting actor in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” He won three times previously for his lead role in “Monk.”

Shalhoub’s co-star, Alex Borstein, picked up her second straight Emmy for supporting actress in a comedy series for “Mrs. Maisel.”

“Chernobyl,” HBO’s story of the 1986 nuclear calamity, collected three Emmys — best limited series, best writing in a limited series or movie by Craig Mazin and directing by Johan Renck.

Netflix’s “Bandersnatch: Black Mirror,” the story of a computer programmer whose life becomes entangled in the video game he is developing, won the Emmy for best television movie.

Jharrel Jerome won the Emmy for lead actor in a limited series or movie for “When They See Us,” the story of the “Central Park Five” who were wrongly convicted of the 1989 rape of a jogger in New York’s Central Park. While thanking his mother, family and writer/director Ava DuVernay, Jerome also hailed the five men on whom the series was based. “Most importantly, this is for the men we know as the exonerated five,” he told the group in the Microsoft Theater audience. “Thank you so much. It’s an honor. It’s a blessing.”

Michelle Williams was named best actress in a limited series or movie for “Fosse/Verdon,” and she earned cheers from the audience as she espoused equal pay for performance regardless of gender or race. She said her “bosses never presumed to know better” than her about what her role demanded.

She thanked the producers for “supporting me completely and for paying me equally because they understood that when you put value into a person it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value.”

Patricia Arquette won the Emmy for best supporting actress in a limited series or movie for Hulu’s “The Act.” It was her second career Emmy, following her 2005 win for best actress in a drama series for “Medium.”

“I’m grateful to be working, I’m grateful at 50 to be getting the best parts of my life. And that’s great. But in my heart I’m so said. I lost my sister Alexis and trans people are still being persecuted,” she said, referencing her transgender sibling who died in 2016. She urged the crowd to “change the world so that trans people are not persecuted, and give them jobs” and to “get rid of the bias we have everywhere.”

Ben Whishaw won the prize for outstanding actor in a limited series or movie for his work in “A Very English Scandal.”

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” won its second straight Emmy for reality-competition program. “We’re so happy for all the gorgeous kids who come on and show how fabulous they are,” RuPaul said while accepting the prize. He thanked the Television Academy for voting for the program, then turned it into a political pitch be urging people to “register to vote. Go to vote.gov and vote.”

HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” won the Emmy for outstanding variety talk series for the fourth consecutive year and also picked up the prize for outstanding writing for a variety series. “Saturday Night Live” was named outstanding variety sketch series, and it also earned a directing Emmy for Don Roy King.

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