LOS ANGELES • Claire Foy of “The Crown” and Matthew Rhys of “The Americans” won top drama acting Emmys as Monday’s ceremony spread its wealth around to streaming and cable but largely snubbed broadcasting and, largely, diversity.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amazon’s freshman sitcom about a 1950s homemaker turned edgy stand-up comedian, took an early lead at the Emmy Awards, which gently mocked itself for its own lack of diverse winners.
“Mrs. Maisel” star Rachel Brosnahan was honored as best comedy actress, Alex Borstein earned the supporting actress trophy and the series creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, nabbed writing and directing awards.
The field bested by Foy included last year’s winner Elisabeth Moss for “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Sandra Oh of “Killing Eve,” who could have been the first actor of Asian descent to get a top drama award.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” said Foy, honored for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the Netflix series.
In a ceremony that started out congratulating TV academy voters for the most ethnically diverse field of nominees ever, the early awards all went to whites.
“Let’s get it trending: #EmmysSoWhite,” presenter James Corden joked at the midway point, riffing off an earlier tribute to Betty White.
“I want to say six awards, all white winners, and nobody has thanked Jesus yet,” co-host Michael Che said, referring back to his earlier joke that only African-American and Republican winners do.
Then Regina King broke the string, with a best actress trophy in a limited series or movie for “Seven Seconds,” which tracks the fallout from a white police officer’s traffic accident involving a black teenager.
She was followed by Darren Criss, who won the lead acting award for the miniseries “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” and who is of Filipino descent.
Thandie Newton won best supporting drama actress for “Westworld,” and Peter Dinklage added a third trophy to his collection for “Game of Thrones.”
The ceremony had a real-life drama moment when winning director Glenn Weiss, noting his mother had died two weeks ago, proposed to his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen.
“You wonder why I don’t want to call you my girlfriend? It’s because I want to call you my wife,” Weiss said.
She said yes, he put his mother’s ring on her finger and the crowd whooped and cheered.
Brosnahan used her acceptance speech to give a shout-out to her comedy’s celebration of women power.
“It’s about a woman who’s finding her voice anew, and it’s one of the things that’s happening all over the country now,” she said. She urged the audience to exercise that power by voting.
Bill Hader collected the best comedy actor award for “Barry,” a dark comedy about a hired killer who stumbles into a possible acting career.
Henry Winkler, aka “The Fonz,” won a supporting actor award — his first Emmy — for “Barry,” four decades after gaining fame for his role in “Happy Days.”
“If you stay at the table long enough, the chips come to you. Tonight, I got to clear the table,” an ebullient Winkler said, with an equally delighted auditorium audience rising to give him a standing ovation. To his children, he said: “You can go to bed now, daddy won!”
The biggest award won by a broadcast network was “Saturday Night Live” for best Variety Sketch Series.
The Emmys kicked off with a song, “We Solved It,” a celebration to the diversity of nominees sung by stars including Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson.
The tune included that Oh was could become the first woman of Asian descent to win an Emmy. “There were none, now there’s one, so we’re done,” the comedians sang.
Oh played along from her seat: “Thank you, but it’s an honor just to be Asian,” said the Korean-Canadian actress.
While Emmy nominees nervously waited to hear their name called, or not, there’s more on the line at the ceremony on NBC than personal glory.
“Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels, producing his second Emmy telecast in 30 years, is tasked with turning viewership around after the 2017 show’s audience of 11.4 million narrowly avoided the embarrassment of setting a new low.
The ceremony clearly bears his stamp, with Che and Jost as hosts and familiar “SNL” faces, including Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin, as presenters and nominees. The long-running NBC sketch show, already the top Emmy winner with 71, could snare up to three more.
The pressure’s on Michaels because NBC and other broadcasters are increasingly reliant on awards and other live events to draw viewers distracted by streaming and more 21st-century options. The networks, which air the Emmy telecast on a rotating basis, are so eager for the ad dollars it generates and its promotional value for fall shows that they endure online competitors sharing the stage.