LOS ANGELES - "Succession" secured its legacy with its third best drama series award, "The Bear" feasted as the night's top comedy, and the two shows about squabbling families dominated the acting awards at Monday night's Emmys.
Quinta Brunson of "Abbott Elementary" and Steven Yeun and Ali Wong of "Beef" also had historic wins at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards, in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony that was finally held four months late after a turbulent year of strikes in Hollywood.
"Succession," the HBO saga of the dysfunctional generations of a maladjusted media empire, won the top prize for its fourth and final season. It also won best actress in a drama for Sarah Snook and best actor in a drama for Kieran Culkin.
"We all put our all into it, and the bar was set so high," Snook said.
FILE - An Emmy statue is placed at the entrance of the gold carpet at the entrance of Microsoft Theater for the 70th Emmy Awards on Sept. 13, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. ( Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
"The Bear," the FX dramedy about a contentious family and a struggling restaurant at the center of the life of a talented chef, won best comedy series for its first season. It also made a meal of the comedy acting categories, with Jeremy Allen White winning best actor, Ayo Edebiri winning best supporting actress, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach taking best supporting actor. All three were first-time nominees.
"This is a show about family, and found family and real family," Edebiri said from the stage as she accepted the first trophy of the night at the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles.
Instead of the usual producer speeches, Matty Matheson, a real-life elite chef who plays a kitchen newbie and repairman on "The Bear," spoke for the show while surrounded by the cast near the end of the Fox telecast.
"I just love restaurants so much, the good and the bad, we’re broken inside," Matheson said before getting a long kiss on the mouth from Moss-Bachrach.
Brunson won best actress in a comedy for the show she created, ABC's "Abbott Elementary," becoming the first Black woman to win the award in more than 40 years and the first from a network show to win it in more than a decade.
FILE - Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary, accepts her award onstage during the 75th Emmy Awards at the Peacock Theatre at L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 2024. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
"I am so happy to be able to live my dream and act out comedy," Brunson said during her acceptance, fighting back tears. The writer-actor was among the stars with standout looks on the Emmys' silver carpet.
"Succession" won six Emmys overall including best supporting actor in a drama for Matthew Macfadyen and best writing in a drama for show creator Jesse Armstrong. The only drama acting category it didn't win was supporting actress, taken for the second time by Jennifer Coolidge of "The White Lotus."
"The Bear" won in every category it was nominated for Monday night, and along with the four it had won previously at the Creative Arts Emmys, took 10 overall, the most of any show.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited/Anthology Series or Movie Niecy Nash-Betts, DahmerMonster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, speaks onstage during the 75th Emmy Awards at the Peacock Theatre at L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 2024. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
Landmark wins on TV's big night
"Beef" from Netflix won best limited series, while Yeun and Wong became the first Asian Americans to win in their categories – Yeun for best actor in a limited series and Wong for best actress. Creator Lee Sung won Emmys for writing and directing. It had eight Emmys overall after three wins at the Creative Arts Emmys.
Brunson had won a writing Emmy for "Abbott Elementary," her mockumentary about a predominantly Black and chronically underfunded grade school in Philadelphia, but this was her first for acting. Isabel Sanford of "The Jeffersons" was the only previous Black woman to win the category in 1981.
The show held on the King holiday saw three Black women win major awards: Brunson, Edebiri and Niecy Nash-Betts, who won best supporting actress in a limited series for "Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story."
On the Netflix show, Nash-Betts played a neighbor of the serial killer whose complaints to authorities about his behavior go unheeded.
"I accept this award on behalf of every Black and brown woman who has gone unheard and over-policed," she said.
"Everybody having fun at the chocolate Emmys tonight?" host Anthony Anderson said during the show. "We are killing it tonight! ... This is like MLK Day and Juneteenth all rolled up in one!"
The tweaked awards calendar made for some oddities. Edebiri and White won their Emmys for the show’s first season eight days after winning Golden Globes for the second season.
FILE - Ayo Edebiri, winner of the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for "The Bear," poses in the press room the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards at Peacock Theater in Los Angeles, CA, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. (Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Baby talk amid ‘Succession’ wins
Culkin as little brother Roman Roy outshined the older brother and the father to win the last lead actor Emmy for "Succession."
He had twice been nominated for best supporting actor for "Succession" without a win. But in the final season, in which his character goes from sideline wisecracker to emotional disaster at the center of the show’s drama, he was put in the lead category and won over his fictional father Brian Cox and brother Jeremy Strong.
After praising his on-screen family, he shifted to his own family, getting big laughs during his speech when he told his wife Jazz Charton that their two young kids weren't enough. "I want more," he said. "You said if I won, we could talk about it."
Snook took her first Emmy in three nominations for "Succession" for playing the family's lone daughter, Shiv Roy, and her show-husband Macfadyen won the second Emmy of his career for playing Tom Wambsgans, the son-in-law that began the HBO series as a hanger-on and ended it as the closest thing it had to a victor.
Many tears and one concerned mother
Emotions ran high from the start of the ceremony. Edebiri and Brunson were both quick to cry as they took the stage, and the first presenter, Christina Applegate, who said in 2021 that she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, got a standing ovation as she came out using a cane, helped by Anderson. As the tears welled in her eyes, she struggled to get through the nominees and winner.
Anderson told the nominees at the beginning of the night that instead of having their speeches cut off by music, his mother, actor Doris Bowman, sitting in the audience, would tell them when it was time to move on. But she more often shouted down her son in the running gag.
Older shows return to spotlight
Honoring television history was the theme at the 75th Emmys. Anderson opened the show on a "Mr. Rogers" set and performed TV theme songs including "Good Times," and several cast reunions were spread throughout the show.
Cast members including Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell from "Martin," Ted Danson and Rhea Perlman from "Cheers," and Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers from "All in The Family" performed short bits from recreations of their sitcom sets before presenting awards.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler reunited to present in the form of their 2001-2005 "Weekend Update" team-up from "Saturday Night Live."
"We’ve reached the stage in life where we’ll only present awards sitting down," Fey said.
One notable appearance came from Katherine Heigl, who joined Ellen Pompeo and other former "Grey's Anatomy" castmates on a hospital room set after leaving the show, now about to start its 20th season, on less than ideal terms in 2010.
"Yes, there have been changes over the years," Heigl said with a wry smile, "But the one constant is the amazing fanbase."