LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Female-driven comedies “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Fleabag” dominated the early awards at the Emmys on Sunday, picking up five statuettes for their stars and writers.
71st Primetime Emmy Awards – Photo Room – Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 22, 2019 – Tony Shalhoub and Alex Borstein pose backstage stage with their Outstanding Supporting Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series awards for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. REUTERS/Monica Almeida
Britain’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge of the quirky British show “Fleabag” took the trophy for best comedy actress, beating favorites Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep” and Rachel Brosnahan for “Mrs. Maisel.” Waller-Bridge also won the Emmy for comedy writing on the Amazon Studios show.
“It’s really wonderful to know, and reassuring, that a dirty, pervy, angry, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys,” Waller-Bridge said.
Tony Shaloub won the award for supporting actor in a comedy for playing the pedantic dad in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” while Alex Borstein picked up the supporting actress Emmy for her role a tough manager in the Amazon comedy about a 1950s housewife turned stand-up comedian.
Bill Hader won his second Emmy for playing a hitman who turns to acting in “Barry.”
Airing without a host this year, it fell to an animated Homer Simpson from “The Simpsons” and “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston to open the Emmy ceremony.
“Television has never been bigger, television has never mattered more and television has never been this damn good,” Cranston said.
Presenters Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert, both previous awards show hosts, joked that in future nominees and winners would be announced by Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa. An Alexa-style voice over then announced the lead comedy actress nominees.
HBO political satire “Veep” and returning Emmy champ “The Marvelous Mrs Maisel” are seen as frontrunners in the contest for best comedy series that will be announced at the end of the three hour show.
Already the most-awarded series in Emmy history with 38 wins, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” landed a record 32 nominations for its final season, including nine for its actors, despite a fan uproar over the conclusion of the series.
The medieval fantasy is expected to win a fourth Emmy on Sunday for best drama series.
The haul for “Game of Thrones” helped cable channel HBO lead all comers with 137 Emmy nominations this year, ahead of Netflix with 117, reflecting the battle for dominance between traditional outlets and streaming services.
None of the “Game of Thrones” actresses has ever won an Emmy, and this year they face formidable competition from “Killing Eve” co-stars Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer as well as Laura Linney for drug-trafficking thriller “Ozark.”
One of the closest races is in the limited series category in which the wrenching social justice drama “When They See Us” faces off against Soviet nuclear accident tale “Chernobyl” and “Fosse/Verdon,” starring Michelle Williams as Broadway singer and dancer Gwen Verdon.
In the drama actor contest, Billy Porter is considered the favorite for his role in LGBTQ series “Pose” on FX after a breakout year in which he made waves on the Oscar and Met Gala red carpets for his groundbreaking gender-neutral outfits.
Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Will Dunham