Emmys 2020: ‘Watchmen,’ ‘Succession,’ and ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Dominate the Night

The biggest night for TV accolades went a bit less smoothly this year, but last night’s ceremony still managed to honor some of the best television of the past year in its usual way.


The pandemic has made a huge impact on the entertainment industry at large, and high-profile awards shows are no exception. The 2020 Emmys ceremony made do with countless remote video calls of presenters and nominees, which mostly went well despite some slip-ups, interruptions, and technical difficulties. Other notable appearances were made in-person by socially distanced presenters and celebrities (who had all likely been screened for the virus). The trophies themselves were individually delivered to the winners at the time they won, which was a creative solution this year.


But overall, the Emmys didn’t take this moment to change too much. Awards were given, speeches were made, and jokes fell flat. In spite of coronavirus, the show felt much like it usually does, and by that of course we mean as it was a sleepy, extra-long labor to get through.



The night was hosted by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, whose already painful jokes often landed with a thud without a live studio audience to prop them up. The goofy gimmicks and gags that Kimmel is known for felt like a slog, especially during a ceremony that is well-known to be bloated anyway. Luckily, some of the funnier moments of the night were delivered by presenters and during speeches. Sterling K. Brown, for example, hilariously acted out a bit where he thought This Is Us had won Outstanding Drama Series, a category the show wasn’t even nominated for.


Some of the awards were presented by essential workers like teachers and delivery drivers, which was a nice touch, but also felt quite jarring at times. An emotional interview of a nurse talking about surviving COVID-19 would be followed by her happily presenting an award for an unrelated category, with no segway to make it feel natural. Nonetheless, it was affecting (while a bit pandering) to see everyday people honored in this way.



The awards themselves went much like they usually do, but plenty of records were broken in the process. For the first time ever, a comedy series won all four main acting awards, and that series is Schitt’s Creek. Eugene Levy, his son Dan, Catherine O’Hara, and Annie Murphy all won acting Emmys for the Canadian comedy series, which just aired its final season this year. The show also became the most awarded comedy in a single year and won Outstanding Comedy Series.


In his speech, Dan Levy aptly mentioned that the Internet would start turning on them for winning so much. It can be frustrating to see one show sweep every category like this, especially when up against hilarious competition like The Good Place and Curb Your Enthusiasm. However, after six seasons it feels like it was finally Creek‘s time, and seeing O’Hara and Eugene Levy finally win these awards was pure joy. And thanks to Canada’s swift response to coronavirus, the cast and crew were fortunate enough to all congregate in one room for the awards, which no doubt made everyone else calling in envious.



Another notable streak of wins was given to HBO’s Watchmen. The show became the very first comic book adaptation to win an Emmy in a top tier category when it was awarded Outstanding Limited Series. Regina King also won for her role as Angela Abar, giving some extra validation to her 35-year career in the industry (which is taking flight to new heights with her directorial debut later this year). Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series was given to Yahya Abdul-Mateen II for his role as Dr. Manhattan in the show, and Damen Lindelof and Cord Jefferson won for Outstanding Writing. The show was nominated for 26 categories, the most of any series this year, and won 11 Emmys in total.


Other limited series wins worth mentioning are Mark Ruffalo, who won for playing double duty in I Know This Much is True, Uzo Aduba in Mrs. America, and Bad Education, which won Outstanding Television Movie.



In the drama categories, actors like Billy Crudup (The Morning Show) and Julia Garner (Ozark) took home prizes, but Zendaya winning Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Euphoria felt like one of the most memorable wins of the night. In a beautiful moment, the 24-year-old seemed absolutely blindsided by her win, but was ecstatically cheered on by her family. Critics have praised her performance in the A24 / HBO series, and now she’s won the ultimate recognition. She is now the youngest actress to ever win the award, and she took the moment to thank her generation for fighting for change in a pivotal political moment in history.



Succession, however, took home some of the biggest prizes of the night. The HBO series, starring Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, and many more, finished its second season last year, and it’s been hailed by critics as one of the best shows on TV right now. Jesse Armstrong won Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for the episode “This is Not for Tears”, and Andrij Parekh took home an Emmy for directing. In his speech, Parekh talked emotionally about his win being a win for anyone who has a name that’s hard to pronounce and anyone who feels as though they don’t belong. It was a touching moment, but that wasn’t the last win for Succession.


Jeremy Strong accepted the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama series, and the show itself won the biggest prize of the night, Outstanding Drama Series. Perhaps this huge night for the series will get more people on board to start watching ahead of season 3. However, it would be understandable if US audiences aren’t quite in the mood for a story about a toxic, wealthy white family in a position of power at the moment.


While the ceremony looked very different this year due to the pandemic, it mostly went off without a hitch. There were snubs, surprises, and deserved wins, all wrapped up in a bloated program, per usual. But the historic wins for Zendaya, Watchmen, and Schitt’s Creek made it just intriguing enough to keep audiences’ attention.


Things may end up being even more peculiar for next year’s Emmy’s, as fewer shows are shooting at the moment and there will be less to award in 2021.


The full list of nominees in every category is below, with winners noted in bold:



Outstanding Drama Series

Better Call Saul
The Crown
The Handmaid’s Tale
Killing Eve
The Mandalorian
Stranger Things
Succession (WINNER)


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Jennifer Aniston – The Morning Show
Olivia Colman – The Crown
Jodie Comer – Killing Eve
Laura Linney – Ozark
Sandra Oh – Killing Eve
Zendaya – Euphoria (WINNER)


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Jason Bateman – Ozark
Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us
Steve Carell – The Morning Show
Brian Cox – Succession
Billy Porter – Pose
Jeremy Strong – Succession (WINNER)


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Laura Dern – Big Little Lies
Meryl Streep – Big Little Lies
Helena Bonham Carter – The Crown
Samira Wiley – The Handmaid’s Tale
Fiona Shaw – Killing Eve
Julia Garner – Ozark (WINNER)
Sarah Snook – Succession
Thandie Newton – Westworld


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Giancarlo Esposito – Better Call Saul
Bradley Whitford – The Handmaid’s Tale
Billy Crudup – The Morning Show (WINNER)
Mark Duplass – The Morning Show
Nicholas Braun – Succession
Kieran Culkin – Succession
Matthew Macfadyen – Succession
Jeffrey Wright – Westworld


Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Jason Bateman, The Outsider
James Cromwell, Succession
Giancarlo Esposito, The Mandalorian
Ron Cephas Jones, This Is Us (WINNER)
Andrew Scott, Black Mirror
Martin Short, The Morning Show


Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s Tale
Laverne Cox, Orange Is The New Black
Cherry Jones, Succession (WINNER)
Phylicia Rashad, This Is Us
Cicely Tyson, How To Get Away With Murder
Harriet Walter, Succession


Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series

Benjamin Caron –The Crown (“Aberfan”)
Jessica Hobbs – The Crown (“Cri de Coeur”)
Mimi Leder – The Morning Show (“The Interview”)
Lesli Linka Glatter – Homeland (“Prisoners of War”)
Mark Mylod – Succession (“This Is Not for Tears”)
Andrij Parekh – Succession (“Hunting”) (WINNER)
Alik Sakharov – Ozark (“Fire Pink”)
Ben Semanoff – Ozark (“Su Casa Es Mi Casa”)


Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Jesse Armstrong – Succession (“This Is Not for Tears”) (WINNER)
Miki Johnson – Ozark (“Fire Pink”)
Peter Morgan – The Crown (“Aberfan”)
Chris Mundy – Ozark (“All In”)
Thomas Schnauz – Better Call Saul (“Bad Choice Road”)
John Shiban – Ozark (“Boss Fight”)
Gordon Smith – Better Call Saul (“Bagman”)



Outstanding Comedy Series

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Dead to Me
The Good Place
The Kominsky Method
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Schitt’s Creek (WINNER)
What We Do in the Shadows


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson – Black-ish
Don Cheadle – Black Monday
Ted Danson – The Good Place
Michael Douglas – The Kominsky Method
Eugene Levy – Schitt’s Creek (WINNER)
Ramy Youssef  –Ramy


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Christina Applegate – Dead to Me
Rachel Brosnahan – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Linda Cardellini – Dead to Me
Catherine O’Hara – Schitt’s Creek (WINNER)
Issa Rae – Insecure
Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Betty Gilpin – GLOW
Yvonne Orji – Insecure
Kate McKinnon – Saturday Night Live
Cecily Strong – Saturday Night Live
Annie Murphy – Schitt’s Creek (WINNER)
D’Arcy Carden – The Good Place
Alex Borstein – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Marin Hinkle – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Mahershala Ali – Ramy
Kenan Thompson – SNL
Daniel Levy – Schitt’s Creek (WINNER)
William Jackson Harper – The Good Place
Alan Arkin – The Kominsky Method
Sterling K. Brown – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Tony Shalhoub – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel


Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Adam Driver, Saturday Night Live
Luke Kirby as Lenny Bruce, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Eddie Murphy, Saturday Night Live (WINNER)
Dev Patel, Modern Love
Brad Pitt, Saturday Night Live
Fred Willard, Modern Family


Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Angela Bassett, A Black Lady Sketch Show
Bette Midler, The Politician
Maya Rudolph, The Good Place
Maya Rudolph, Saturday Night Live (WINNER)
Wanda Sykes, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Saturday Night Live


Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series

James Burrows – Will & Grace (“We Love Lucy”)
Andrew Cividino and Daniel Levy – Schitt’s Creek (“Happy Ending”) (WINNER)
Gail Mancuso – Modern Family (“Finale Part 2”)
Daniel Palladino – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (“Marvelous Radio”)
Matt Shakman – The Great (“The Great”)
Amy Sherman-Palladino – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (“It’s Comedy or Cabbage”)
Ramy Youssef – Ramy (“Miakhalifa.mov”)


Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Daniel Levy – Schitt’s Creek (“Happy Ending”) (WINNER)
Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil – What We Do in the Shadows (“Collaboration”)
Tony McNamara – The Great (“The Great”)
Stefani Robinson – What We Do in the Shadows (“On the Run”)
Michael Schur – The Good Place (“Whenever You’re Ready”)
Paul Simms – What We Do in the Shadows (“Ghosts”)
David West Read – Schitt’s Creek (“The Presidential Suite”)



Outstanding Limited Series

Little Fires Everywhere
Mrs. America
Watchmen (WINNER)


Outstanding Television Movie

American Son
Bad Education (WINNER)
Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Jeremy Irons – Watchmen
Hugh Jackman – Bad Education
Paul Mescal – Normal People
Jeremy Pope – Hollywood
Mark Ruffalo – I Know This Much Is True (WINNER)


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Cate Blanchett – Mrs. America
Shira Haas – Unorthodox
Regina King – Watchmen (WINNER)
Octavia Spencer – Self Made
Kerry Washington – Little Fires Everywhere


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Uzo Aduba – Mrs. America
Toni Collette – Unbelievable
Margo Martindale – Mrs. America
Jean Smart – Watchmen
Holland Taylor – Hollywood
Tracey Ullman – Mrs. America


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – Watchmen (WINNER)
Jovan Adepo – Watchmen
Tituss Burgess – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend
Louis Gossett Jr. – Watchmen
Dylan McDermott – Hollywood
Jim Parsons – Hollywood


Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, TV Movie or Dramatic Special

Lenny Abrahamson – Normal People (“Episode 5”)
Steph Green – Watchmen (“Little Fear of Lightning”)
Nicole Kassell – Watchmen (“It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice”)
Maria Schrader – Unorthodox (WINNER)
Lynn Shelton – Little Fires Everywhere (“Find a Way”)
Stephen Williams – Watchmen (“This Extraordinary Being”)


Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, TV Movie or Dramatic Special

Tanya Barfield – Mrs. America (“Shirley”)
Susannah Grant – Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, Unbelievable (“Episode 1”)
Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson – Watchmen (“This Extraordinary Being”) (WINNER)
Sally Rooney and Alice Birch – Normal People (“Episode 3”)
Anna Winger – Unorthodox (“Part 1”)



Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

Saturday Night Live (WINNER)
A Black Lady Sketch Show 
Drunk History 


Outstanding Variety Talk Series

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (WINNER)
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert


Outstanding Directing For A Variety Series

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert
Saturday Night Live (WINNER)
Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready


Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (WINNER)
Late Night With Seth Meyers
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert


Outstanding Competition Program

The Masked Singer
Nailed It! 
RuPaul’s Drag Race (WINNER)
Top Chef 
The Voice