LOS ANGELES (CNS) - "Schitt's Creek," the Canadian series following a once-wealthy family who suddenly find themselves broke and living in a motel, dominated the "virtual" 72nd Emmy Awards Sunday evening with seven wins, sweeping every comedy category, including outstanding comedy series.
With Jimmy Kimmel helming the ceremony from a mostly empty Staples Center due to the coronavirus, HBO's "Succession" and "Watchmen" both won four Emmys, including best drama series and limited series, respectively.
The ceremony will be forever remembered for being held virtually as a result of the pandemic, with nominees stationed at their homes or small gatherings around the world, connected via more than 100 computer video links and accepting statuettes delivered to their homes.
The father-son creative team behind Pop TV's "Schitt's Creek," Eugene and Daniel Levy, accepted the top comedy series honor, with father heaping praise on son.
"I also want to thank once again this young man, who took our fish- out-of-water story about the Rose family and transformed into a celebration of inclusivity, a castigation of homophobia and a declaration of the power of love," Eugene Levy said of his son.
The show won a total of seven Emmys. Eugene Levy was named outstanding actor in a comedy series, while Catherine O'Hara was named best actress and Annie Murphy won for best supporting actress. Daniel Murphy earned a mantle- worth of statuettes, winning for best supporting actor and writing in a comedy series. He also shared the prize for comedy series directing with Andrew Cividino.
"Thank you to my dad for giving me the reins to this show, even though I didn't have any experience in the writers' room, which saying that out loud right now feels like a wild choice on your part," Daniel Levy said. "But I am very grateful for it. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you.
"... Getting to write David Rose, getting to write this show, getting to tell the stories has been the greatest, most cathartic experience of my life," he said.
The win for O'Hara was her first performing Emmy victory. O'Hara's only previous Emmy win was in 1982, when she won as part of the writing crew of "SCTV."
She gave thanks to the Levys, praising them for allowing her to portray a character "who gets to fully be her ridiculous self."
"They gathered the most beautiful, fun-loving people in drama -- cast and crew -- and then by example led us all to be the best we could be for each other," O'Hara said.
Eugene Levy, accepting his prize for comedy series actor, noted, "I guess it's kind of ironical that the straightest role I've every played wins me an Emmy for a comedy performance. So now I seriously have to question what I've been doing for the past 50 years."
HBO's "Succession," the story of a well-to-do family that owns a global media company, also had a big night Sunday, winning best drama series, along with a best drama series actor prize for Jeremy Strong, along with a writing award for creator Jesse Armstrong and a directing Emmy for Andrij Parekh.
Strong hailed Armstrong and co-star -- and fellow nominee -- Brian Cox while accepting the acting honor. He citied a poem that said "all I ever wanted was a book so good I'd be finishing it for the rest of my life."
He added, "This job is that for me."
Accepting the drama series prize from London, Armstrong expressed sadness from being separated from the cast and crew, but called the honor a "wonderful achievement for the whole group."
Zendaya won the Emmy for best actress in a drama series for her work in HBO's "Euphoria," which follows the lives of a group of teenagers navigating the modern world. Despite some of the shows gritty themes of abuse and drugs, Zendaya offered words of hope for modern youth.
"I know this feels like a really weird time to be celebrating, but I just want to say there is hope in the young people out there," she said. "I know our TV show doesn't always feel like a great example of that, but there is hope in young people. I just want to say to all my peers out there doing the work in the streets -- I see you, I admire you, I thank you. Thank you so, so much."
Billy Crudup was named best supporting actor in a drama series for Apple TV+'s "The Morning Show," while Julia Garner won the prize for supporting actress for her work in Netflix's "Ozark."
Damon Lindelof, series creator, writer and executive producer of "Watchmen," dedicated the win for best limited series to "the victims and survivors of the Tulsa massacre of 1921," a deadly white-supremacist attack that forms the framework for the show's racial justice themes.
"The fires that destroyed Black Wall Street still burn today," Lindelof said. "The only way to put them out is if we all fight them together."
Reciting a list of lessons he says he learned while developing the show, Lindelof said, "History is mystery. It is broken into a million puzzle pieces and many are missing. We know where those pieces are but we don't seek them out because we know finding them will hurt. Sometimes we caused that hurt, maybe we even benefited from it. But we have to name it before we can repair it."
"Watchmen" entered Emmy season with a leading 26 overall nominations.
Regina King won the Emmy for best actress in a limited series or movie for her lead role in the series.
"This is so freaking weird," King said as the Emmy was delivered to her home.
"I truly love being a thespian," she said. "Thank you Television Academy for choosing me to represent the thespian community. Damon Lindelof, I love you brother. Man, thank you for your brilliant mind. Thank you for choosing all of us to join this journey as you stepped outside of your comfort zone and led us on a journey where we could bring art to truth to power."
Yahya Abdul-Matteen II was named best supporting actor in a limited series or movie for his work opposite King. Lindelof and Cord Jefferson shared the Emmy for writing for a limited series.
Mark Ruffalo was named best actor in a limited series or movie for his dual role as twin brothers -- one of them mentally impaired -- in the HBO series "I Know This Much is True."
"Our story was about a man, it's about family, about a man who is fighting for his brother living with mental illness," he said. "It's a story that's common throughout so much of the United States and the world today. And it asks a big question: How are we going to heal and honor and take of each other and our most vulnerable people?
"And we do that with love, and we do that with compassion, and we do that by fighting for them," he said. "And that's what we have to do today. We have to come together with love for each other. And if you have privilege, you have to fight for those who are less fortunate and more vulnerable. And that's what's great about America, our diversity."
The prize for directing a limited series or movie went to Maria Schrader for Netflix's "Unorthodox." Uzo Aduba was named best supporting actress for her work in FX's "Mrs. America."
HBO's "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver" won its second consecutive Emmy for outstanding variety talk series. The prize for reality competition series went to VH1's "RuPaul's Drag Race" for the third year in a row.
The virtual ceremony opened with Kimmel taking the stage at Staples Center, with the broadcast using footage from a previous year's audience to make it appear he was talking to a full arena. Kimmel went through a standard awards-show monologue, before ultimately revealing himself to be standing on a small stage in a largely empty building.
"Of course I'm here all alone," he said. "This isn't a MAGA rally. It's the Emmys."
During the ceremony, Tyler Perry and The Perry Foundation were presented with the Television Academy's Governors Award "in recognition of their unparalleled contributions to shaping the television medium."
Perry was chosen by the Television Academy's Board of Governors for his achievements in television and his commitment to offering opportunities to marginalized communities through personal and Foundation programs of inclusion, engagement, employment and other philanthropic initiatives.