Even though Hulu has a smaller programming budget than competitors like Netflix and Amazon, it became the first streaming service to land a best drama victory. It was the capstone of a big night for a relatively new entrant in the awards arena: Elisabeth Moss, formerly of “Mad Men,” finally won her first Emmy for her portrayal as Offred in “Handmaid’s’’, and the show also took home prizes for writing and directing.
As the producers and cast gathered onstage to accept the award, they were joined by Ms. Atwood, who received a rousing ovation.
The success of “Handmaid’s” — a story resonant with those who worry about women’s rights in America — came during a ceremony that was decidedly political. “Saturday Night Live” also stormed the Emmys, winning the best variety sketch category for the first time in more than two decades.
The show’s feature players swept the supporting comedy acting awards, with acting wins from Alec Baldwin, for his portrayal of President Trump, and Kate McKinnon, who played Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (among other characters).
Mr. Trump was top of mind all night. From the Emmys stage, he was invoked again and again, and the comments were often highly charged. “I want to thank Trump for making black people No. 1 on the most oppressed list,” Donald Glover said as he accepted one of his two awards for the FX comedy “Atlanta.”
In his opening monologue, the host Stephen Colbert declared President Trump the biggest story of the year in television and then introduced a surprise guest, the former White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
The win by “Handmaid’s” is a blow to Netflix, which spent millions marketing its shows before Emmy voters, and once again fell short of winning best drama despite the fact it claimed nearly half of the nominated shows in the category.
And it was also a huge defeat for NBC, which finally hit pay dirt in the ratings with its hugely popular family drama, “This Is Us.” A broadcast network was in its first viable position to win the drama award for the first time in more than a decade but a streaming service blocked the way.
Here are the highlights from Sunday’s ceremony:
‘S.N.L.’ has a big night.
“Saturday Night Live” has never been a favorite of Emmys voters, but this year was different.
After pummeling President Trump nearly every week and scoring some of its highest ratings in years, “S.N.L.” took home several prestigious awards, including for best variety sketch show.
Accepting that Emmy, the longtime executive producer of “S.N.L.,” Lorne Michaels, said that he thought the show would never have a season as “crazy, as unpredictable, as frightening, as exhausting or as exhilarating“ as the show’s first in the mid-70s.
“Turns out I was wrong,” he said.
Mr. Baldwin, as expected, won as best supporting actor in a comedy for his portrayal of Mr. Trump. “I suppose I should just say, at long last Mr. President, here’s your Emmy,” he quipped.
Ms. McKinnon repeated as best supporting actress in a comedy. This NBC late-night show had already swept the two best guest actor categories at the Creative Arts Emmys (one for Melissa McCarthy and another for Dave Chappelle).
Don Roy King added another award for “S.N.L.” later in the show, winning for best direction of a variety series.
Trump jokes were expected; Colbert delivers.
Mr. Colbert had been riding an anti-Trump wave all year to unanticipated ratings gold, and it was no different for his opening monologue Sunday. He spent a good chunk of his monologue talking about the president, declaring Mr. Trump the biggest story in TV last year, and spoofing Mr. Trump’s failure to win an Emmy during his years as host of “Celebrity Apprentice.’’
“Unlike the presidency,’’ Mr. Colbert said, “Emmys go to the winner of the popular vote.’’
In a surprise, Mr. Colbert brought Mr. Spicer onstage to make fun of one of the former press secretary’s signature moments: His first news conference when he declared Mr. Trump’s inauguration size was the biggest ever.
Of course, there is a risk in going political at an event that’s supposed to celebrate television. The Emmys have set ratings lows for two consecutive years, and there are plenty of viewers out there who do not want to be lectured by Mr. Colbert or anyone from Hollywood about President Trump. And, from the opposite side of the political spectrum, there were many on social media who expressed anger Sunday night at what they saw as an attempted redemption of Mr. Spicer.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus makes history.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus coming to the Emmys stage and collecting yet another trophy? Show us something we haven’t seen.
But this year, she made history.
With Ms. Louis-Dreyfus’s win for best actress in a comedy for her performance as Selina Meyer in “Veep,” she tied Cloris Leachman’s record for eight prime-time acting Emmys. She also set the record for the number of wins by an actor playing one character, breaking a tie with Candice Bergen (“Murphy Brown”) and Don Knotts (“The Andy Griffith Show”).
Holding a sheet of paper, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus declared her character (who has gone from vice president, to president, to ex-president over the last six seasons) as the “role of a lifetime and an adventure of utter joy.”
Continuing the political comedy, Ms. Dreyfus added: “We did have a whole story line about impeachment but we abandoned it because we were worried that someone else might get to that first.”
“Veep” also won best comedy for a third year in a row, holding off significant competition from “Atlanta.” Mr. Glover, the star and creator of the “Atlanta,” won the Emmys for best actor and best director in the category.
The good news for the competition? “Veep” will wrap up next year.
‘Big Little Lies’ and a big little category.
As movie stars and audiences gravitate to limited series, this category has gone from a wasteland to arguably the most intriguing.
Nicole Kidman won her first Emmy, for best actress in a limited series for her portrayal of an abused wife in “Big Little Lies,” and she had some intense competition. Four Oscar winners were nominated in the category, including Ms. Kidman, Reese Witherspoon (“Big Little Lies”) and Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange (“Feud”).
“It’s been an incredible year for women in television,” said Ms. Witherspoon, an executive producer of “Big Little Lies.” Ms. Kidman called for “more great roles for women.” Laura Dern and Alexander Skarsgard won supporting acting awards, and Jean-Marc Vallée won for best director in a limited series, rounding out a dominant showing from “Big Little Lies.”
Riz Ahmed won best actor in a movie or limited series for his breakout role in HBO’s “The Night Of.” And Netflix won best TV movie for “Black Mirror.”
HBO holds off Netflix yet again.
HBO took home the most Emmys for the 16th straight year, winning 29, compared with Netflix’s 20.
HBO’s triumph capped a year when TV networks took Emmys campaigning to a new level, spending millions to market shows before nominations were handed out.
But there was no player more ostentatious than Netflix. The streaming service opened up its own 24,000-square-foot event space this spring, holding nearly daily parties to put potential Emmy voters in front of talent, free dinners and an open bar.
Rivals grumbled that this level of financial commitment violated a tacit agreement among the networks to stick with a schedule of events that had traditionally been sanctioned by the Television Academy; some went as far as to suggest privately that Netflix was trying to buy votes.
Nevertheless, the result was the same: The streaming service went home empty-handed in the major acting awards and for best drama and comedy.