LOS ANGELES, Calif. – “Transparent” emerged as an early winner at Sunday’s Emmy Awards, capturing a best comedy actor trophy for Jeffrey Tambor and a directing award for its creator, and giving both winners a chance to pay tribute to the show’s trangender themes.
“I’d like to dedicate my performance and this award to the transgender community. … Thanks for letting us be part of the change,” said Tambor, who plays a man journeying toward womanhood.
Jill Soloway, who based the series on the life of her own “moppa,” as she calls her parent, used her directing trophy acceptance speech to ask for equal rights for transgender individuals.
“It is legal in the majority of U.S. states to refuse to rent to trans people,” she said, saying the country has a civil rights problem that must be addressed.
The Emmys didn’t give up their fondness for choosing the familiar over the groundbreaking.
Past winners won again, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, honoured as best lead comedy actress for “Veep” for the fourth time. Allison Janney of “Mom” and Tony Hale of “Veep” were repeat winners for supporting comedy acting honours.
Janney, who plays a dysfunctional parent, thanked series producer Chuck Lorre for creating a deeply flawed character and “thinking of me to play her.”
“This is nuts,” said Tony Hale, thanking his show’s writers and lauding his fellow nominees: “You make me laugh hard.”
Frances McDormand won as best actress in a limited series or movie for “Olive Kitteridge,” while supporting honours went to Regina King for “American Crime.”
Host Andy Samberg kicked off the ceremony with a video in which he made elaborate fun of the overload of TV programs available.
“So many shows, so little,” he sang, before entering a “TV viewing bunker” to binge-view on all the nominated shows. A bearded, shaggy-haired Samberg emerged to boast to contenders Jon Hamm and Kerry Washington that he had them and everyone else covered.
Appearing on stage, groomed, Samberg touched briefly on the political scene.
“Sure, Donald Trump seems racist,” he said. “What else?”
He also took note of what he called the most diverse group of nominees in Emmy history. They include Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson, who could become the first non-white winner in the best drama series actress category.
“So congratulations, Hollywood, you did it. Racism is over! Don’t fact-check that,” Samberg said.
“Game of Thrones,” this year’s top nominee overall, could make a notable showing with a best drama victory: It would become the second fantasy or sci-fi show to get the award, following “Lost” in 2005.
Its competition includes the final season of “Mad Men,” poised to set a record as the most honoured drama series ever with a fifth award. The cast hasn’t fared as well, never winning despite repeated nods.
Making a last stand are star Hamm, whose portrayal of troubled ad man Don Draper has been nominated for each of the drama’s eight seasons, along with best actress nominee Elisabeth Moss and supporting actress contender Christina Hendricks.
When it comes to ratings, Fox is counting on more than the audience’s love of TV as the attraction. “Fox NFL Sunday” is broadcasting from the red carpet and the Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys telecast precedes the awards.
Having football as the lead-in to 2013’s Emmys made the ceremony a winner for CBS with 17.8 million viewers, the biggest audience in eight years. Last year’s 15.6 million viewers was the second-highest total for the period.