Welcome to the Platinum Age of Television, everyone! Just kidding — literally no one will ever call it that except Television Academy chairman Frank Scherma, who used the epithet at the 71st Emmy Awards with the grinning desperation of a real estate agent trying to sell a house in an unfashionable neighborhood. That locale would be, of course, old-fashioned, subscription-package TV, which for years has been losing both ratings and critical acclaim to streaming services. You can’t blame the powers that be for being a bit panicked — 2019 saw the swan songs of juggernauts Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory and Veep, three shows which last night’s Emmys memorialized as if America had lost a loved one in a tragic fire.
Hand-wringing aside, the 2019 Emmy presentation was marked by a few surprise upsets, a rudderless ceremony and a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants spirit that only sometimes kept things interesting. Game of Thrones took top honors in the drama category, which felt more like a hat tip to the show as a whole than to its disappointing final season; meanwhile, Fleabag nabbed four big awards in the comedy category for its stellar second season, shutting out longtime Emmy darling Veep; and Billy Porter made history as the first black, gay actor to win an Emmy for his performance in Pose.
Here are our picks for the best, worst and head-scratchiest moments of the night.