The 2017 Emmys was a night of many firsts. The first African-American woman to win the Emmy for comedy-series writing. The first African-American man to win the Emmy for comedy-series directing. The first male actor of Asian descent to win an Emmy for acting. The first streaming series to be named Outstanding Drama Series. Ever.
Meanwhile, Reed Morano (The Handmaid's Tale) became the first woman to win the Emmy for drama-series directing in 22 years, and This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown became the first African-American actor to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 19 years. Oh, and Laura Dern, Elisabeth Moss, Alexander Skarsgård, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Riz Ahmed, and Donald Glover all became first-time Emmy winners.
And for all the self-congratulatory talk of DIVERSITY in host Stephen Colbert's opening monologue, it's good to see that this year the Emmys actually delivered.
Here are the major highlights from the 2017 Emmys, a year when women and people of color were celebrated more than ever.
Stephen Colbert gets a politically charged assist from Chance the Rapper
Most people expected Colbert to get political on the Emmys stage — and he did, to mixed results — but it’s even more difficult to write and perform an opening musical number that doesn’t automatically elicit groans from viewers. (Not me, of course. The more musical numbers, the better!) It’s even harder to make a musical number that isn’t all fluff, so I’ve got to hand it to Colbert for turning a song-and-dance bit about TV escapism into something even more meaningful and timely, thanks to an assist from Chance the Rapper.
"I love television, it’s a pleasant distraction," Chance sang, "But just imagine taking action. I like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, in fact, I'm addicted, but where’s the cop show where one gets convicted?"
Women won big — finallyGetty Images
"It's been an incredible year for women in television," producer Reese Witherspoon said, accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series for Big Little Lies. Nicole Kidman, who took home the statue for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series earlier that night, added that women in Hollywood like her and Witherspoon — a.k.a. women with Oscars — found more quality roles in television.
But I'm not just talking about the well-deserved wins for the cast and crew of HBO's Big Little Lies, either. Or the fact that Julia Louis-Dreyfus made Emmy history with her sixth consecutive win for her savage portrayal of Selina Meyer on HBO's Veep. This year, women also won big in the writing and directing categories, including Handmaid's Tale director Morano. Tale also won Elisabeth Moss her first Emmy — and she delightfully dropped not one but two f-bombs in accepting — before taking the night's top prize: Outstanding Drama Series. What a night for women, indeed.
Lena Waithe became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for comedy-series writingGetty Images
If you've watched "Thanksgiving," the standout episode of Master of None that scored Waithe her historic Emmy, then you know why the writer/actor deserved to bask in this moment. Not to mention, creator and co-writer Aziz Ansari deserves props for standing to the side and letting Waithe have her moment. She dedicated the Emmy to her girlfriend and her "LGBTQIA family."
"The things that make us different," Waithe said, "those are our superpowers. Every day, when you walk out the door, put on your imaginary cape and go out there an conquer the world. Because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren't in it."
Kate McKinnon thanked Hillary Clinton for her "grace and grit"Getty Images
McKinnon's earnest acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy was memorable not only for the tears but also for the way she personally thanked Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential nominee, for her "grace and grit." While I'm no Emmy voter, I think it's safe to say that McKinnon's haunting piano performance of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" — performed the Saturday after the presidential election — won the Saturday Night Live comedian her second Emmy.
Laura Dern would be nothing without her tribe of strong, well-read womenGetty Images
All hail Renata Klein!!! "I've been acting since I was 11 years old, and I think I've worked with maybe 12 women, so thank you to the Academy for honoring our show," Dern said, accepting her Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series for Big Little Lies. Dern then went on to thank Witherspoon and Kidman — and their mothers! — for being such inspiring, well-read women. It was a moment of true sisterhood for every woman in the room, except for Feud actress Jackie Hoffman who may or may not have been legitimately upset she lost to Dern. C'est la vie.
It's official: Donald Glover is Hollywood's golden boyGetty Images
Not only did Glover win directing honors in the comedy series category for his work on FX's Atlanta, but the auteur also won the coveted Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. "Yo, I'm so happy," Glover said, accepting the award. "Wow." He then went on to thank the president "for making black people no. 1 on the Most Oppressed list."
"He's the reason I’m probably up here," Glover joked.
Alexander Skarsgard thanked his mom and, honestly, I do tooGetty Images
The Skarsgårds are having quite a week. Bill Skarsgård is currently starring in the no. 1 movie in the country (It), while Alexander Skarsgård, the eldest sibling in this incredibly good-looking family, just won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series for his harrowing work as an abusive husband in Big Little Lies. Although Alexander didn't thank his seven Skarsgård siblings, or his dad, actor Stellan Skarsgård, he did thank the one woman who has given him (and us) so much: his mother, My. Without her, none of the handsome Skarsgårds would exist, so for that, she deserves nothing but the utmost respect.
Sterling K. Brown delivers the night's most charming acceptance speech — again!Getty Images
A year ago, Sterling K. Brown accepted the Emmy for his outstanding performance in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story and delivered the night's most memorable speech, thanks in part to a Jay-Z reference. This year, however, Brown put things into perspective.
"Before anything like this happened for your boy, I was a fan," he said while accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for This Is Us. "Walter White held this joint. Dick Whitman held this joint." Brown, however, is the first black actor to hold that joint since Andre Braugher won the Emmy for Homicide in 1998. "19 years ago, Detective Frank Pembleton held this joint, as impeccably played by Andre Braugher," Brown said. "I just want to say that whether it’s at Stanford University or on this stage, it's my supreme honor to follow in your footsteps."
Before Brown was oh-so-rudely played off stage, he also thanked his TV family on This Is Us. "You are the best white family that a brother has ever had." Aww!