The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards have come and gone, and they delivered plenty of memorable moments — for better or for worse. We’ve rounded up the 2019 ceremony’s highlights and lowlights; scroll through the gallery below to see our picks, then weigh in on your favorite (or least favorite) moments from the show.
WORST: GEEZ, LOUISE
Every year, we hope to get through the Emmys without a single mispronounced name… but Jenny McCarthy dashed those hopes before Sunday’s ceremony even started. During Fox’s red carpet pre-show, the Masked Singer judge referred to Veep’s leading lady as Julia Louise-Dreyfus, prompting us to facepalm so much earlier in the night than we’d planned. (But kudos to McCarthy’s co-host, Dave Karger, who properly pronounced JLD’s name several times after the gaffe.)
DRAW: E! TAKES THE L
It was mighty sunny in Los Angeles on Emmy night, but Christina Applegate managed to bring a little shade to the proceedings. While giving a shout-out to daughter Sadie Grace on E!’s red carpet, the Dead to Me star stopped herself to remark, “I don’t know if she’s watching E!…. you know?” Let’s hope Giuliana Rancic was wearing sunscreen on the carpet; otherwise, she just got majorly burned.
WORST: STILLER KEEPS IT SIMPLE
Amazon’s Fleabag is one of the most delightful, clever and complex series currently on television… unless you ask Ben Stiller, who wrote off the show as “a comedy about a sex addict” before introducing the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Joke’s on him, though!
BEST: A MARVELOUS MOMENT
When The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel‘s Alex Borstein kicked off her Emmy victory by drinking booze, handing her purse to Seth MacFarlane and joking (?) that she wasn’t wearing any underwear, we didn’t expect to be misty-eyed just 60 seconds later. But when the Supporting Actress in a Comedy winner pivoted to thanking her family — including a shout-out to her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor who bravely stepped out of line when she was about to be shot by a guard — we had no choice but to reach for the Kleenex.
WORST: KEN’S TIK-ED OFF
Entirely too much time was devoted to this painfully unfunny bit, in which The Masked Singer judge Ken Jeong roped the Emmys crowd into helping him film a TikTok video for his daughter. We would have named it the night’s most groan-worthy banter…
WORST: EYES ON THE PRIZE
…if this extennnnnded gag, in which Maya Rudolph and Ike Barinholtz pretended they’d just had Lasik eye surgery, hadn’t come along to dethrone it. Oof.
BEST: THOMAS LENNON’S WACKY COMMENTARY
Not all of the night’s comedy bits worked, to be sure, but the Reno 911! alum added a welcome sprinkling of the surreal with his deadpan asides as the Emmys’ official commentator. (“Ben Whishaw’s name is onomatopoeia for when a handsome British person passes you on a bicycle: ‘Whishaaaaw!'”)
BEST: GWENDOLINE GETS SOME LOVE
Everyone knows a true knight isn’t afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. Case in point: Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie, who was wonderfully taken aback by the huge cheers she got from the Microsoft Theater audience. (When you get more hoots and hollers than khaleesi herself, you know you’ve done something right.)
BEST: PATRICIA’S PLEA
Reminding us all that there are more important things than which celebrity wins a shiny trophy, The Act’s Patricia Arquette used her acceptance speech to call for an end to the persecution of transgender people. “I’m in mourning every day of my life, Alexis,” Arquette cried, referencing her late sister, who died in 2016. “And I will be for the rest of my life for you, until we change the world so trans people are not persecuted.”
BEST: JHARREL’S BIG WIN
From the note of pride in Angela Bassett’s voice when she announced Jharrel Jerome as Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie winner, to the chill-inducing standing ovation he got from the Emmys audience, everything about Jerome’s victory was emotional and poignant. The cherry on top, of course, was his shout-out to the real Exonerated Five, who cheered, wept and raised their fists in solidarity as Jerome accepted the award. (Please blame any and all typos in this paragraph on the tears we’re still wiping away.)
BEST: SHE WORKS HARD FOR THE MONEY
Nope, we’re not done marveling at the night’s acceptance speeches just yet. Fosse/Verdon star Michelle Williams also made the most of her time in the spotlight, after winning for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. We’ll let her take it from here: “The next time a woman — and especially a woman of color, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart — tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her. Because one day, she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment, and not in spite of it.” Insert three dozen “applause” emojis here.
WORST: DEVINE INTERVENTION
We’re not entirely sure what was happening during Adam DeVine’s musical homage to variety shows. We just know we didn’t like it. (That terrifying cutout of Meryl Streep’s head is mostly to blame.)
BEST: BILLY MAKES HISTORY
Just when we thought Billy Porter’s Tonys singalong would be his best awards show moment of 2019, he went and outdid himself with a moving acceptance speech for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Not only did Porter become the first openly gay African-American actor to win the award, but he made history in one of the most fabulous hats we’ve ever seen.