The 2022 Emmy Awards featured few surprise wins but plenty of head-scratching musical cues and shockingly aggressive use of the wrap-it-up music. Let's break down the winners and losers from the ceremony:
HBO dominated yet another Emmys, and it didn't even need dragons. Thanks to Succession and The White Lotus, the network took home two out of the three main best series trophies.
But that's not all: HBO utterly destroyed the competition by picking up 12 awards throughout the evening. For comparison, the second-place finisher was Apple TV+ … which only won four awards.
Loser: Netflix and network television
It didn't have to be this way, as Netflix's Squid Game had a chance of pulling off an upset. And to be fair, the South Korean phenomenon put up a respectable showing. Lee Jung-jae won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, becoming the first Asian actor to ever win that award, and Squid Game also won Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, beating Succession.
But a larger Squid wave wasn't to be, and in the end, Netflix only won those two awards, plus Julia Garner's repeat supporting actress victory for Ozark. Just to rub it in, the streamer faced some brutal jokes about its subscriber troubles, with host Kenan Thompson quipping that Netflix will be joining the cast of Squid Game due to being "in massive debt and desperate for money." Counting the Creative Arts Emmys, Netflix did win 26 Emmys total this year. But that's still down from 44 last year, when Netflix led HBO.
Meanwhile, there were some who predicted Monday would mark the triumphant return of the network sitcom to the Emmys via a Best Comedy Series win for Abbott Elementary. That would have been the first time since 2014 that a broadcast network comedy won the award, as streamers and cable have largely dominated in recent years. The ABC show didn't go home empty-handed, as Sheryl Lee Ralph won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series — becoming only the second Black woman to do so — while creator Quinta Brunson won Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.
But in terms of the top prize, voters went with Apple's Ted Lasso for a second consecutive year, denying broadcast networks their symbolic victory — and NBC sticking that Kia commercial in the middle of the show wasn't exactly the greatest advertisement for the concept of network television.
Loser: New winners
If you recently won an Emmy, there was a strong chance you did so again this year.
Much of Monday's ceremony consisted of repeat winners, from Succession and Ted Lasso in the top categories to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Saturday Night Live winning for the umpteenth time, and Jason Sudeikis, Jean Smart, Zendaya, Julia Garner, and Brett Goldstein all getting second or even third trophies.
Some first-timers did thankfully make it in, including Matthew Macfadyen for Succession, Lee Jung-jae for Squid Game, Sheryl Lee Ralph for Abbott Elementary, and Lizzo, who pulled off one of the night's biggest upsets with a win over RuPaul in Outstanding Competition Program.
Still, more often than not, voters were happy to fall back on familiar faces.
Loser: 'Better Call Saul,' 'Yellowjackets,' and 'Only Murders in the Building'
Would you believe that Better Call Saul has still never won a single Emmy? It seemed like this could be the year, as some pundits predicted either a supporting actress win for Rhea Seehorn or even a lead actor win for Bob Odenkirk. Come on, the man nearly died! But both lost, meaning the show remains zero for 46. With the second half of its final season eligible next year, Emmy voters have one last shot to make things s'all good, man.
Yellowjackets also had a rough night, with the freshman Showtime series earning seven nominations this year but zero wins. Its best shot was for Lead Actress with Melanie Lynskey, but she couldn't quite overcome Zendaya's momentum. Another freshman show, Only Murders in the Building, also won nothing, despite both Steve Martin and Martin Short being up for Best Comedy Actor.
Loser: Everyone who had to rush through their speeches
The 2022 Emmys were in a hurry, and we don't know why.
You'd think the show's producers had been threatened with death if the ceremony went one second past 11:00 p.m. based on the way they flew through the proceedings. Wrap-it-up music was deployed liberally, and numerous winners appeared visibly startled after noticing a timer counting them down the moment they arrived on stage.
"[It's] counting me down," a nervous Amanda Seyfried said before speeding through her remarks, while Jason Sudeikis, accepting Ted Lasso's award for Outstanding Comedy Series, said with annoyance, "We just got here!" Jennifer Coolidge even pleaded to no avail that "this is a once in a lifetime thing" and she needed more time, only to still be played off — though at least she made the best of it by actually dancing to the wrap-it-up music.
The idea seemed to be that winners would submit names of people they wanted to thank ahead of time, which would be displayed on the screen. But too often speeches were abruptly cut off before anything particularly interesting could be said. In general, the show was frantically paced throughout. Even a moment that seemed engineered to go viral — Kenan Thompson's reunion with Kel Mitchell — was cut so short it hardly made an impact. It's never a great sign when the attitude of your awards ceremony is "let's get this over with."
Winner: People who love clips from shows that weren't actually nominated
Speeches being cut short constantly only highlighted puzzling instances of that time being spent elsewhere, such as with the decision to show clips from series that weren't nominated. Presenters were called to stage with long plugs for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and Law & Order, and we saw clips from shows like The Good Doctor that were not actually competing this year. Why didn't the Emmys use that time to focus on the series that were up for awards? And don't even get us started on that dance sequence opening that highlighted not this year's crop of nominees, but … Friends and The Brady Bunch? What year is it?
Loser: Whoever picked everyone's intro music
Seriously, how hard is it to play the theme song for the show a person stars in as they come to the stage? Instead, we had Matthew Macfadyen walking up to "Don't Stop Me Now," Julia Garner to "Walking on Sunshine," and Sheryl Lee Ralph to "Get Lucky." Did someone just pick a Spotify playlist at pure random?
Winner: Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lizzo
Despite the threat of being pulled off the stage at any moment, Sheryl Lee Ralph delivered an absolute barn burner of a speech, which she opened by singing "Endangered Species." It may be the one and only moment we'll actually remember from the ceremony — perhaps alongside Lizzo's powerful speech, where the singer reflected that "when I was a little girl, all I wanted to see was me in the media."
Loser: Jimmy Kimmel
With Abbott Elementary failing to win Outstanding Comedy Series, Quinta Brunson only had one opportunity to get up on the stage. But she had to share the spotlight with Jimmy Kimmel thanks to a joke that overstayed its welcome. Before presenting, Will Arnett dragged Kimmel on stage, joking he "couldn't be here tonight." But then Kimmel remained there, pretending to be passed out for Brunson's entire speech, drawing immediate criticism for overshadowing her moment. There's such a thing as too much commitment to the bit.
Winner: Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez
Only Murders in the Building may have won zero Emmys on Monday, but Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez still brought the house down while presenting a category. Watching the trio take turns roasting each other, you'd think they were actually our emcees for the night — and if the invite hasn't already gone out for them to host the Oscars, what is the Academy even doing?