By Alan Hurst

Pundits were predicting an Emmy love fest for the final seasons of Game of Thrones and VEEP, but it didn’t happen. Instead Emmy voters decided to honour a wide array of series, with emphasis on several British programs and performers.

Game of Thrones did win Best Drama Series and Peter Dinklage won his fourth Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series , but the expected wins in other acting categories didn’t materialize. Instead, Ozark lead actor Jason Bateman won his first Emmy for directing an episode of that dark series, which also won a Supporting Actress in a Drama statue for Julia Garner. Billy Porter won his first Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama for Pose and he accepted it in true colorful form. Jodie Comer won her first Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama for Killing Eve, now in it second season.

I think what’s happened here was a true case of vote splitting. Multiple Game of Thrones nominees in some of the categories (four on the Supporting Actress ballot) didn’t work in their favour. And I’m OK with that – it allowed other shows that are ascending creatively to get some attention. Game of Thrones did win 10 awards at last week’s creative arts ceremony.

A bigger surprise happened right at the top of the evening with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag nabbing awards for Best Actress in a Comedy (Waller-Bridge), Best Writing (Waller-Bridge) and Directing. Waller-Bridge was back on stage at the end of the evening when she accepted the Best Comedy Series Award. VEEP was left with nothing. For those who are scratching their head this morning wondering what the hell Fleabag is, it’s both a terrifically funny and heartbreaking look at a troubled but witty woman who’s trying to get her life pulled together with and without the dysfunctional support of her passive aggressive family. It’s brilliant.

Also doing well in the comedy awards was last year’s winner The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It won Best Supporting Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series for Tony Shalhoub and Alex Borstein (a repeat from last year). Both were deserved. It also won best Guest Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series last week for Luke Kirby and Jane Lynch, plus several creative arts awards. Bill Hader won his second consecutive Best Actor Emmy for Bill. I was hoping for a little bit of Emmy love for The Kominsky Method, but I’m happy with how the comedy awards panned out.

Chernobyl – a riveting limited series that was also criticized for playing with the facts – won Best Limited Series, as well as nine other awards including Best Director and Best Writing. When They See Us, the drama about the persecution of the Central Park Five, was expected to do better here and we’ll probably hear a lot about that over the next couple of days. Jharrel Jerome’s win for Best Actor in a Limited Series or Special for that program was very popular, as was Michelle Williams’ Best Actress award for her work as Gwen Verdon in Fosse/Verdon. Patricia Arquette’s Best Supporting Actress win for The Act was also well received, but you could sense the head scratching when Ben Whishaw won Best Supporting Actor for A Very English Scandal over the three nominees for When They See Us. Again, vote splitting probably reared its head, allowing Whishaw in for good work in a very entertaining British production.

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