Emmys 2016 Full Recap: Winners, Highlights and LOLs

The people have spoken! American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, Game of Thrones and a slew of first-time winners were among the success stories at the the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, September 18. Grab the peanut butter!

Read our minute-by-minute recap for the winners, videos and social reactions, along with our take on everything from Sarah Paulson booing host Jimmy Kimmel, to Matt Damon enjoying an apple, to confusion about what exactly it means to say someone “rocks my chain.” And start at the bottom to read in chronological order!

10:58 p.m. ET: Champagne is coming! Game of Thrones marked two years in a row as best drama series, and its big victory tonight was clearly not a shocker. Then again, it’s unlikely many viewers were complaining about the predictability, given the immense popularity of the HBO series’ sixth season. 

Cocreator Benioff took the stage again, this time praising the “best cast that’s ever been assembled.” He went on to name the various countries that his stars hail from before humorously pointing out that Peter Dinklage is from New Jersey. Benioff also adorably thanked wife Peet for “10 years of nonstop fun.”

10:52 p.m. ET: A fitting win on a night full of political jokes. Veep notched its second straight triumph as best comedy, with showrunner David Mandel singling out star Louis-Dreyfus. He told the crowd that the actressjust makes it easy. I love you and thank you.” He ended with, “This is for chubby Jews from the Upper West Side, wherever you are.”

10:51 a.m. ET: Larry David presented the best comedy prize and claimed that he is good at feigning interest because he has been busy dating. “Tell me more about your niece,” the Curb Your Enthusiasm star said about what he tells women to get them to sleep with him.

10:45 p.m. ET: A night of first-timers! Tatiana Maslany kept the newcomer trend going, as she earned her first Emmy — best actress in a drama series — for her star-making turn as a slew of clones on Orphan Black. (She was nominated last year as well.) The actress said she was honored to win for a show that puts women at the center. 

10:39 p.m. ET: Mr. Awards Darling? Mr. Robot star Rami Malek appeared shocked to win the Emmy for best actor in a drama series over such stiff competition as The AmericansMatthew Rhys, House of CardsKevin Spacey and Bloodline‘s Kyle Chandler. “Please tell me you’re seeing this, too,” Malek told the crowd. 

10:33 p.m. ET: Tori Kelly sang and performed guitar for a moving acoustic rendition of “Hallelujah” during the show’s in memoriam segment. The montage paid tribute to the TV stars who died in the past year, including Alan Rickman, Doris Roberts, Anton Yelchin and Morley Safer

10:31 p.m. ET: Henry Winkler offered a moving tribute to Happy Days creator Garry Marshall, who died in July at age 81. Winkler, best known for playing the Fonz on the show, referred to the Pretty Woman director as “one of the most beloved men in the history of our business.” The actor continued, “Thank you for inviting us into your schoolyard.”

10:26 p.m. ET: Perhaps Maggie Smith is making it trendy to skip the Emmys? After being introduced by Kimmel as “the real Cookie Monster,” Taraji P. Henson presented the prize for best supporting actor in a drama series to Bloodline‘s Ben Mendelsohn, who was MIA. The Empire star quipped that she would enjoy keeping the trophy for him. 

10:21 p.m. ET: Yes, the dragons are circling. Shortly after his shout-out during Weiss and Benioff’s speech, GoT‘s Miguel Sapochnik earned his own trophy, this one for directing in a drama series. 

10:19 p.m. ET: She does it again. Kimmel had earlier poked fun at Dame Maggie Smith for never attending the Emmys, despite having three wins in nine nominations. The Downton Abbey star prevailed again for best supporting actress in a drama series, and she was again not in the building, leading Kimmel to barge onto the stage to say he was putting the trophy in the lost and found. 

10:11 p.m. ET: Is it time for Game of Thrones to take over for O.J. in the momentum department? The series’ creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss won for best writing in a drama series, with Benioff mentioning that the only part of the job he hates is being away from his three children and wife Amanda Peet.

10:07 p.m. ET: Not exactly a contender? Damon Wayans offered up a very strange and out-of-the-blue Marlon Brando impression before presenting best variety sketch series to Key and Peele. Keegan-Michael Key kept the awkward theme going as he accidentally referred to Damon Wayans by the name of his son Damon Wayans Jr. Oops!

10:01 p.m. ET: Queen Bey loses? Blasphemy! Grease: Live! beat out Beyonce’s Lemonade for best directing in a variety special. Please forgive us for anything we just smashed with a baseball bat. 

9:55 p.m. ET: An apple a day keeps Matt Damon away? The fruit-munching actor made his way on stage to continue his long-standing “feud” with Kimmel, pointing out that the host probably wants to “go home and curl up and cry.” The Jason Bourne star then thanked Kimmel’s mom for the apple, before spilling the beans about an after-party that the host apparently hadn’t been invited to. 

9:52 p.m. ET: No hard feelings, Kimmel. John Oliver accepted Last Week Tonight‘s first-ever variety talk series prize, after which Kimmel — who lost in the category — asked whether the award should really be going to a British star. 

9:52 p.m. ET: Lots of comedy, not all of it successful. Patton Oswalt seemed genuinely stunned to win for variety special for Netflix’s Talking for Clapping, and said he hadn’t prepared a speech. Kit Harington and Andy Samberg then fired off a number of crazy quips that they hoped to see in Emmys ads next year. 

Not all of them were destined for joke immortality (what was that about a limo?), but Kyle Chandler was at least a good sport after a few were made about him apparently propositioning both guys.

9:44 p.m. ET: Not everyone is in on the joke. Sherlock: The Abominable Bride won for best TV movie, and creator Steven Moffat thanked his wife by pointing out that he didn’t know what the previous winners’ “chain” comments were all about. Awkward.

9:41 p.m. ET: The verdict is in! People v. O.J. topped Fargo for best limited series. Murphy praised FX chief John Landgraf as a “leader of inclusion,” before the show’s team quickly got played off by the orchestra.

9:38 p.m. ET: The awkward O.J. jokes continue, courtesy of Kimmel. “I have to believe that Johnnie Cochran is somewhere smiling up at us right now,” the host remarked, and Travolta did not appear pleased.

9:36 p.m. ET: What a night for O.J.! Courtney B. Vance won for best lead actor in a limited series, giving a big thank you to real-life wife, the always-stunning Angela Bassett. He called her “the woman that rocks my chain,” continuing the Fetty Wap reference that costar Brown had begun during his own speech. He ended his speech with, “Obama out, Hillary in.”

9:31 p.m. ET: Perhaps Marcia Clark is good luck after all? In an expected but emotional win for People v. O.J., Sarah Paulson won best lead actress in a limited series for playing Clark, and the actress praised the attorney as a “complicated, whip-smart, giant-hearted mother of two.” The first-time Emmy winner also apologized for being “superficial and careless” previously for not realizing who Clark is as a person.

The star then thanked frequent collaborator Ryan Murphy by saying, “I owe you everything — it was because you thought I could that I even dared.” And she wrapped up her speech praising partner Holland Taylor, telling the Two and a Half Men alum, “I love you.”

9:22 p.m. ET: People v. O.J. keeps picking up wins! An emotional Sterling K. Brown won for best supporting actor in a limited series for playing Christopher Darden. Brown, who was not a household name by any means before the FX series, quipped, “A lot of you may not have known who I was, but you checked the box anyway.” He thanked Ryan Murphy “for giving a brother a chance.”

9:11 p.m. ET: American Crime‘s Regina King won supporting actress in a limited series, thanking her “wonderful, beautiful mom,” who was proudly watching from the audience. People v. O.J. earn the prize for best writing in a limited series.

9:06 p.m. ET: Take that, accountants! Leslie Jones chided the reps of Ernst & Young for not doing enough to prevent her naked photos from leaking online recently. “I just wanted to feel beautiful, y’all,” the Ghostbusters star explained. “Can a sister feel beautiful?”

9:04 p.m. ET: Is it now a requirement that every awards show must pass out food? After this year’s Oscars offered Girl Scout cookies, and last year’s had pizza, Kimmel went the cut-rate route. His mom whipped up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the crowd, and audience members did not appear thrilled by the snacks. 

The host referenced the continued controversy over hiked prices for prescription medication by warning anyone with allergies to peanuts, “We can only afford one EpiPen.”

8:58 p.m. ET: A Trump supporter finally gets his voice. The Voice nabbed its second straight win, and third in four years, for best reality-competition series. (Your run on top is clearly over, formerly category-dominating Amazing Race.) 

Mark Burnett, a noted Hollywood conservative, responded to Kimmel’s earlier quip at his expense by complaining about Hillary Clinton. He went on to refer to the Voice coaches (including Miley Cyrus) as the “next Supreme Court justices” and reminded viewers that the show starts tomorrow, as if NBC’s heavy advertising push hadn’t done that enough on its own. 

8:54 p.m. ET: This one counts! Jimmy Kimmel proved prescient after handing Jeffrey Tambor an Emmy at the start of the monologue. Sure enough, the Transgender star earned his second straight win for best actor in a comedy as Maura Pfefferman. 

The star made an impassioned plea to industry bigwigs to “please give transgender talent a chance,” which earned enthusiastic applause from Orange Is the New Black‘s transgender costar Laverne Cox. The Arrested Development alum added that he would be happy to be the “last cisgender male to play a transgender female on television. We have work to do.”

8:45 p.m. ET: Jeffrey Tambor, who got his break in the business costarring with Garry Shandling on HBO’s The Larry Sanders Show, introduced a hilarious tribute montage to the comedy legend, who died in March at age 66. Among the standout clips was a Sanders scene featuring David Duchovny apparently channeling Sharon Stone‘s iconic Basic Instinct role.

8:40 p.m. ET: OK, here was the first winner that basically everyone saw coming. Julia Louis-Dreyfus won best lead actress in a comedy for Veep, marking her fifth straight victory in the category and eighth Emmy win overall. According to her speech, a lot of people got tricked into working on the series. 

The evening’s Trump potshots kept coming, as the actress said she wanted to “personally apologize for the current political climate. I think that Veep has torn down the wall between comedy and politics.” She said her heralded HBO series “now feels like a sobering documentary.” The speech ended on a somber note, with the Seinfeld alum — visibly shaking throughout her speech — tearfully thanking her father, Gérard Louis-Dreyfus, who passed away on Friday, September 16. 

8:40 p.m. ET: Transparent creator Jill Soloway won for directing in a comedy series, and said that directing the Amazon series has allowed her to help “change the world.” She encouraged diverse voices in Hollywood and ended her speech with, “Topple the patriarchy!”

8:35 p.m. ET: Peter Scolari — an Emmy winner this year for Girls — made a few awkward jokes about cameras, then telling the crowd after he didn’t appreciate their response, “I’ll wait.”

8:27 p.m. ET: A fake Hillary thanks the real one. Five-time nominee Kate McKinnon (SNL) took home her first Emmy for supporting actress in a comedy speech, and she was instantly in tears: “I’m shaking, guys.”

The actress then earned a loud cheer from the audience for her shout-out to Hillary Clinton, with whom she shared a sketch in last season’s memorable premiere episode of the NBC comedy series. Clearly, this is not a pro-Trump crowd.

8:22 p.m. ET: A relaxed winner! Aziz Ansari was already bow tie-free (for some reason) as he joined Master of None cocreator Alan Yang to accept the writing for comedy series. After rattling off numerous movies made about the Italian-American experience, Yang encouraged Asian-American parents to give their kids “cameras instead of violins.” 

Things got briefly awkward when Ansari made his way to the mic, only to tell the crowd, “I just want to say …” before getting played off. Perhaps he’ll get a chance later tonight to finish his speech.

8:22 p.m. ET: Jimmy Kimmel isn’t a fan of middle initials, quipping to Empire‘s nominated star about the use of “P.” in her name, “Are there other Taraji Hensons you’re being confused with?”

8:14 p.m. ET: A chip off the old block! The show started off with a surprise, with Louie Anderson wining supporting actor in a comedy for playing mom to Zach Galifianakis‘ Chip in Baskets. “This is for my mom,” Anderson said in his moving speech.

8:12 p.m. ET: Sarah Paulson isn’t pleased! Kimmel kicked off his monologue with several jokes about the People v. O.J. star and her Emmys date, Marcia Clark (who Paulson played on the show). Paulson booed after Kimmel quipped, “Everyone in L.A. knows, if you wanna win, sit next to Marcia Clark.”

Kimmel then warned the crowd, “If your show doesn’t have a dragon or a white Bronco, go home now.” And he called out Celebrity Apprentice creator Mark Burnett, blaming him for Donald Trump‘s presidential run. Kimmel claimed that if Trump wins and builds a wall on the border of Mexico, “The first person we’re throwing over it is Mark Burnett.”

8:05 p.m. ET: Wake us up before you host-host! Jimmy Kimmel opened the show with a star-studded montage of comedy clips as he raced to the auditorium. Among his drivers included A.C. Cowlings (People v. O.J.’s Malcolm-Jamal Warner), with Kimmel warning that if he didn’t get to the awards show soon, “They’ll let Tom Bergeron host.”

Next to pick up Kimmel were the cast of Modern Family, fellow late-night host James Corden — who ended up on stage with Kimmel at a Wham! concert dressed in “Choose Life” T-shirts — and oddly, shockingly Jeb Bush as chauffeur. After Bush asked Kimmel if he was nominated, the former governor asked, “What’s that like?”

7 p.m. ET: Television’s biggest stars are joining host Jimmy Kimmel for the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, September 18, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, and Us Weekly is live-blogging the entire event.

Jimmy Kimmel
Jimmy Kimmel speaks onstage during the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Lester Cohen/WireImage

Among the evening’s most-honored shows is Game of Thrones, which continued its stellar year of myriad buzz and critical praise with an industry-leading 23 nominations for season 6. The HBO smash hit is in the mix for drama series of the year — aiming to repeat its 2015 win in the category — along with numerous acting noms, including first-time honorees Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark). Thrones already took home nine Emmy trophies at last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony.

Also catching voters’ eyes was FX’s American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, racking up 22 nominations. It’s in the running for best limited series, along with possible trophies for costars Sarah Paulson (Marcia Clark), Courtney B. Vance (Johnnie Cochran), Cuba Gooding Jr. (O.J. Simpson), Sterling K. Brown (Christopher Darden), David Schwimmer (Robert Kardashian) and John Travolta (Robert Shapiro).

This year’s star-studded list of presenters includes Tom Hiddleston, Chris Rock, Tina Fey, Taraji P. Henson, Kristen Bell and Claire Danes. Kimmel holds court as host, returning to the gig he held at the 2012 ceremony.

Keep refreshing this post throughout the event for the full winners list, video footage of the most memorable speeches and funniest bits, social media reactions to the biggest surprises and snubs, and exclusive behind-the-scenes reporting. And click here for Us‘ predictions for the winners in the night’s biggest categories.

The 2016 Emmy Awards airs on ABC Sunday, September 18, at 8 p.m. ET. 

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