Emmys 2019: 'Game of Thrones,' 'Fleabag' win top honors on TV's big night

"Fleabag" swept the top comedy categories and "Game of Thrones" earned its fourth trophy for best drama.
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By Daniel Arkin

HBO's fantasy epic "Game of Thrones" and Amazon's dark comedy "Fleabag" won top honors at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, capping off a host-free night that moved briskly and largely shied away from political barbs.

Here’s how the show went down minute by minute:

10:58 p.m. ET

"Game of Thrones" overcame mixed reactions to its final season to claim the best drama prize for the fourth time. It now joins a quartet of classic shows with the most wins for best drama series: "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law," "The West Wing" and "Mad Men."

10:54 p.m. ET

Amazon's "Fleabag" nabbed the comedy series award, upsetting HBO's "Veep" and handing a third trophy of the night to the show's creator and star, Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

"The journey has been absolutely mental to get here," Waller-Bridge said in her acceptance speech, noting that the acclaimed dark comedy began as a one-woman stage show.

She gave special thanks to actor Andrew Scott, who co-starred on the show's second season as the main character's love interest, a priest.

10:46 p.m. ET

Jodie Comer, who stars on "Killing Eve" as a contract killer wrapped up in a twisted mutual obsession with a British intelligence operative on her trail, won her first Emmy.

Comer was visibly shocked when she took the stage to accept the honor for lead drama actress. She edged out her co-star, Sandra Oh.

10:42 p.m. ET

Jason Bateman, perhaps best known as the beleaguered Michael Bluth on "Arrested Development," won his first Emmy — not for acting but for directing. He took home a statue for directing an episode of "Ozark," the Netflix crime drama in which he stars.

10:39 p.m. ET

"Pose" star Billy Porter made Emmy Awards history, becoming the first openly gay man to win to the prize for lead actor in a drama. He earned a standing ovation as he took the stage.

"I have the right [to be here]. You have the right. We all have the right," Porter said in his acceptance speech to loud applause.

Porter stars on the groundbreaking FX drama as an emcee of the drag balls circuit in 1980s New York.

10:28 p.m. ET

Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress Regina King ("If Beale Street Could Talk") introduced a montage of performers and behind-the-camera talents who died in the last year, including director John Singleton, actress Doris Day, broadcast journalist Cokie Roberts, comedian Tim Conway, actor Luke Perry and "Rhoda" star Valerie Harper.

10:22 p.m. ET

Julia Garner, a first-time Emmy nominee, won for her supporting role on the Netflix crime drama "Ozark." She beat out four actresses from "Game of Thrones" — Gwendoline Christie, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams — as well as Fiona Shaw of "Killing Eve."

"I'll remember this forever," Garner said in her acceptance speech.

10:19 p.m. ET

"Succession," HBO's portrait of a ruthless clan of media barons, earned its first Emmy of the night: drama series writing. Jesse Armstrong, who created the critical favorite and often gets credited with the show's signature foul-mouthed erudition, accepted the honor.

10:15 p.m. ET

Peter Dinklage claimed his fourth Emmy for his supporting performance as hard-drinking, keenly intelligent Tyrion Lannister on the fantasy drama "Game of Thrones."

"We did nothing but sweat, we did nothing but laugh," Dinklage said of his decade acting on the massively popular fantasy saga.

10:06 p.m. ET

The Emmys paid tribute to a handful of other beloved series that departed the airwaves this year, including CBS' longtime ratings smash "The Big Bang Theory," Netflix's dark Washington drama "House of Cards," and Comedy Central's buddy comedy "Broad City."

10:03 p.m. ET

John Oliver returned to the stage to accept the award for variety talk series. "Last Week Night," a news satire that blends Oliver's motor-mouthed riffs with rigorous analysis of current events, has won in the category for the last four years.

10:01 p.m. ET

"SNL" scored back-to-back wins. The iconic sketch series nabbed another statue for variety series direction, handing a ninth Emmy to series veteran Don Roy King.

9:52 p.m. ET

NBC's late-night stalwart "Saturday Night Live" triumphed in the variety sketch category. Lorne Michaels, the impresario behind the long-running comedy staple, spoke movingly about Adam Sandler's musical tribute to the late Chris Farley, one of the highlights from the most recent season of "SNL."

Here's the clip:

"SNL" has racked up 65 Emmys in its four decades on air.

9:50 p.m. ET

HBO's "Last Week Tonight," the news satire show fronted by comedian John Oliver, nabbed the prize for variety series writing.

9:43 p.m. ET

In a notable sign of the times, the night's commercial breaks have been peppered with advertisements for streaming services that are challenging the dominance of broadcast networks and cable channels.

Disney+ and Apple TV+, two services that are due to launch before the end of the year, teased upcoming original programs. Netflix, the streaming market leader, showed off its sprawling library of popular shows.

9:38 p.m. ET

HBO's "Chernobyl," which came into the night with a total of 19 nods, nabbed the award for best limited series. It was widely praised for its thorough, clear-eyed account of the 1986 nuclear disaster.

Craig Mazin, who created and wrote the bleak docudrama, said he hoped it "reminded people of the value of the truth and the danger of a lie."

9:34 p.m. ET

Michelle Williams was honored for her lead role as dancer Gwen Verdon on the FX drama miniseries "Fosse/Verdon."

She thanked the crew and studios behind the celebrated miniseries for "supporting me completely and paying me equally."

"The next time a woman, and especially a woman of color ... tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her, because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you," Williams said to loud applause.

9:30 p.m. ET

"House" star Hugh Laurie, who had a recurring role on "Veep," took the stage for the second extended tribute of the night, introducing a highlight reel from the recently departed political satire.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the rest of the ensemble then came out, receiving a standing ovation in front of a backdrop of the White House.

"I was told I'd be up here alone," Louis-Dreyfus quipped, before introducing the nominees for lead actress in a limited series or TV movie.

9:18 p.m. ET

Jharrel Jerome won the award for best actor in a limited series for his poignant performance on Netflix's "When They See Us," a drama about the men long known as the "Central Park Five."

Jerome, who appeared in the Oscar-winning film "Moonlight," portrayed one of those men, Korey Wise.

"This is for the men we know as the Exonerated Five," Jerome said, dedicating his statue to the men depicted in the acclaimed Ava DuVernay the miniseries — all of whom are in the audience and received loud applause.

Jerome's speech was one of the most galvanizing moments of the night so far.

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9:14 p.m. ET

HBO's grim, sobering docudrama "Chernobyl" has claimed two prizes so far: limited series direction for Johan Renck and limited series writing for Craig Mazin, who also created the miniseries.

9:12 p.m. ET

The award for supporting actor in a limited series went to Ben Whishaw of "A Very English Scandal." Whishaw co-starred in the dramedy opposite Hugh Grant, who is nominated for his lead role on the miniseries.

9 p.m. ET

Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette ("Boyhood") moved closer to an EGOT, winning the award for her supporting role on the Hulu limited series "The Act."

Arquette was moved to tears in her acceptance speech, nodding to the sometimes difficult realities facing actresses in Hollywood ("I'm grateful at 50 to be getting the best parts of my life") while also acknowledging the death of her sister, the actress Alexis Arquette.

She lamented that "trans people are still being persecuted," and called for transgender people to receive equal treatment under the law. Alexis Arquette, who was transgender and documented her transition in a documentary, died in 2016 at 47.

8:56 p.m. ET

The folks behind the Emmys had said the no-host ceremony would free up more time to honor beloved shows that ended their runs this year.

The result: "Game of Thrones," the zeitgeist-devouring fantasy epic that concluded to mixed reviews in May, received an extended tribute just before 9 p.m. ET, including clips from the final season, earnest remarks from the stars and a standing ovation from the audience.

8:44 p.m. ET

Phoebe Waller-Bridge triumphed in the lead comedy actress category — an award that had been widely expected to go to Julia Louis-Dreyfus for her performance on the final season of the political satire "Veep."

"I find acting really painful," Waller-Bridge said to laughs, thanking her "Fleabag" family for all their support. She stars on the show as a self-destructive but fiercely intelligent young woman grappling with grief and familial tensions.

Louis-Dreyfus, who has eight Emmys under her belt, narrowly missed out on a chance to overtake Cloris Leachman as the most-honored actor in all of Emmy history.

8:42 p.m. ET

Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel showed some late-night host solidarity as the telecast approached its second hour, taking the stage together to mock the lack of an Emmys emcee.

"You know what else didn't have a host? The Titanic, and look what happened to them," Kimmel quipped.

8:36 p.m. ET

"SNL" alum Bill Hader won his second consecutive Emmy for his lead role as a conflicted contract killer on HBO's "Barry." The second season of the show was applauded for adding psychological layers to Hader's tortured antihero.

8:32 p.m. ET

Back-to-back wins for "Fleabag": The edgy comedy won for its direction.

Amazon, the home for both "Fleabag" and "Maisel," is the big winner of the night so far.

8:24 p.m. ET

English actress and writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who has drawn critical praise for her frank, witty Amazon show "Fleabag," claimed her first Emmy: writing for a comedy series.

8:20 p.m. ET

"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is running two-for-two: Alex Borstein, who co-stars on the critically adored series as a foul-mouthed talent manager, won the award for best supporting actress in a comedy.

She triumphed in the same category last year.

Borstein edged out Sarah Goldberg ("Barry"), Sian Clifford ("Fleabag"), Olivia Colman ("Fleabag"), Betty Gilpin ("GLOW"), Kate McKinnon ("Saturday Night Live"), Marin Hinkle ("Maisel") and Anna Chlumsky ("Veep").

8:10 p.m. ET

Tony Shalhoub earned the first Emmy of the night for his supporting performance as a high-strung family patriarch on Amazon's "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." It's the fourth Emmy for the prolific character actor, who previously nabbed three prizes for his lead role on "Monk."

He beat out Stephen Root ("Barry"), Henry Winkler ("Barry"), Anthony Carrigan ("Barry"), Alan Arkin ("The Kominsky Method") and Tony Hale ("Veep").

8:05 p.m. ET

Ben Stiller took the stage to hand out the first award of the night — supporting actor in a comedy series — and walked past a row of wax statues of comedy legends, including George Burns and Lucille Ball. But one of the statues was actually a flesh-and-blood person: Bob Newhart, the entertainment legend who is sharp as ever at 90.

8 p.m. ET

The folks behind the Emmys decided to ditch a host this year, but Anthony Anderson ("black-ish"), Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") and Homer Simpson were on hand to kick off the show with a comedy bit poking fun at the adjusted format.

Cranston then paid earnest tribute to television's power to transport viewers to fantastical lands, from Winterfell of HBO's "Game of Thrones" to the Upside Down of Netflix's "Stranger Things."

"Television has never been this damn good," Cranston said to applause.