72nd Primetime Emmy Awards

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72nd Primetime Emmy Awards
72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Poster.png
Promotional poster
Presented byAcademy of Television Arts & Sciences
Hosted byJimmy Kimmel
Most awards
Most nominations
  • Major: Watchmen (11)
  • All: Watchmen (26)
Comedy SeriesSchitt's Creek
Drama SeriesSuccession
Limited SeriesWatchmen
Television/radio coverage
Runtime3 hours, 6 minutes[1]
Viewership6.36 million
Produced byDone and Dusted
Directed byHamish Hamilton

The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards honored the best in American prime time television programming from June 1, 2019, until May 31, 2020, as chosen by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.[2] The ceremony was originally to be held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was instead hosted from the Staples Center, while winners gave speeches remotely from their homes or other locations. It aired live on September 20, 2020, following the 72nd Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards on September 14–17 and 19. During the ceremony, Emmy Awards were handed out in 23 categories. The ceremony was produced by Done and Dusted, directed by Hamish Hamilton, and broadcast in the United States by ABC. Jimmy Kimmel served as host for the third time.

At the main ceremony, Schitt's Creek won all seven comedy categories including Outstanding Comedy Series, becoming the first comedy series to complete a sweep of those categories. Succession and Watchmen each won four awards, including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Limited Series, respectively. Other winning programs include Euphoria, I Know This Much Is True, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Morning Show, Mrs. America, Ozark, RuPaul's Drag Race, and Unorthodox. Including Creative Arts Emmys, Watchmen led all programs with 11 wins and 26 nominations, while HBO took home 30 awards to lead all networks.

Winners and nominees

Eugene Levy in 2012
Eugene Levy, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series winner
Catherine O'Hara in 2005
Catherine O'Hara, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series winner
Jeremy Strong in 2014
Jeremy Strong, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series winner
Zendaya in 2019
Zendaya, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series winner
Mark Ruffalo in 2017
Mark Ruffalo, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie winner
Regina King in 2018
Regina King, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie winner
Dan Levy in 2019
Dan Levy, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series winner
Annie Murphy in 2017
Annie Murphy, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series winner
Billy Crudup in 2015
Billy Crudup, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series winner
Julia Garner in 2020
Julia Garner, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series winner
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in 2018
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie winner
Uzo Aduba in 2014
Uzo Aduba, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie winner

The nominations for the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards were announced on July 28, 2020, by host Leslie Jones and presenters Laverne Cox, Josh Gad, and Tatiana Maslany.[3] Watchmen led all programs with 26 total nominations between the main ceremony and the 72nd Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, followed by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with 20 and Ozark and Succession with 18 each.[4] Netflix led all networks and platforms with 160 nominations, beating the record of 137 set by HBO the previous year.[5] Disney+, Apple TV+, and Quibi all received their first Emmy nominations this year,[4] and each would receive its first wins this year as well.[6]

The winners were announced on September 20. Schitt's Creek became the first series to sweep all seven comedy categories and the second to ever complete a sweep, following Angels in America as a miniseries in 2004. It also became the first Canadian program to win the overall comedy or drama series award and set a record for most Emmys for a Canadian series.[7] Additionally, it became the first comedy series to win all four main acting categories in a single year and the first show overall to sweep the acting categories since Angels in America.[8][9] Combined with its two Creative Arts Emmys, the show became the most awarded comedy in a single year with nine wins, breaking The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's record of eight from 2018 and 2019.[8]

Dan Levy won four awards for Schitt's Creek to tie Moira Demos and Amy Sherman-Palladino for most wins for an individual in one year,[10][11] while he and Eugene Levy became the first father-son duo to win Emmys in the same year.[12] For her work on Euphoria, Zendaya became the youngest winner in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series category at 24 years old, breaking Jodie Comer's record from the previous year.[13][14] She also became the second black actress to win the category, following Viola Davis in 2015.[15] Regina King's win for her performance in Watchmen marked her fourth career Emmy, tying her with Alfre Woodard for the most wins by a black performer.[16] Zendaya and King were also two of the seven black winners for acting in comedy, drama, or limited series, breaking the record of six.[17]

Winners are listed first, highlighted in boldface, and indicated with a double dagger (‡).[18][19][b] For simplicity, producers who received nominations for program awards have been omitted.




Lead performances

Lead performances

Supporting performances

Supporting performances





Governors Award

The Governors Award was presented to Tyler Perry and The Perry Foundation "in recognition of their unparalleled contributions to shaping the television medium" and for their "inclusion, engagement, employment and other philanthropic initiatives".[21][22] The award was moved to the main telecast from its usual presentation at the Creative Arts Emmys.[23]

Nominations and wins by program

For the purposes of the lists below, "major" constitutes the categories listed above (program, acting, directing, and writing), while "total" includes the categories presented at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

Shows with multiple major wins
Wins Show Network
7 Schitt's Creek Pop TV
4 Succession HBO
Watchmen HBO

Nominations and wins by network

Networks with multiple major nominations
Nominations Network
37 Netflix
33 HBO
14 Hulu
12 NBC
11 FX/FX on Hulu
8 Pop TV
Prime Video
5 Apple TV+
BBC America
2 Showtime
Networks with five or more total nominations[25][26]
Nominations Network
160 Netflix
107 HBO
47 NBC
36 ABC
33 FX/FX on Hulu
31 Prime Video
26 Hulu
23 CBS
19 Disney+
18 Apple TV+
16 Pop TV
15 Fox
13 VH1
10 BBC America
Comedy Central
National Geographic
Discovery Channel
Networks with multiple major wins
Wins Network
11 HBO
7 Pop TV
2 Netflix
Networks with multiple total wins[19]
Wins Network
30 HBO
21 Netflix
10 Pop TV
8 Disney+
6 VH1
National Geographic
4 Adult Swim
Prime Video
FX/FX on Hulu


The awards were presented by the following people:[27]

Presenters at the ceremony
Name(s) Role
Jennifer Aniston Presented the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series[28]
Tracee Ellis Ross Presented the award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series[28]
Anthony Carrigan Presented the award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series[28]
Cindy Marcelin Presented the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series[29]
Tim Loyd Presented the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series[30]
Presented the award for Outstanding Comedy Series[31][32]
David Letterman Presented the award for Outstanding Variety Talk Series[28]
D-Nice Presented the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie[33]
Randall Park Presented the award for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special[28]
Caroline Nelson Presented the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie[34]
Jacinda Duran Presented the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie[35]
Anthony Anderson Presented the award for Outstanding Limited Series[28]
Presented the Governors Award to Tyler Perry[36]
Laverne Cox Presented the award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series[37]
Karen and Kevin Tsai Presented the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series[38]
Katie Duke Presented the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series[39]
Sterling K. Brown Presented the award for Outstanding Drama Series[28]

Ceremony information

Jimmy Kimmel in 2015
Jimmy Kimmel served as the ceremony's host.

As part of a rotating deal among the "Big Four" networks signed in 2018, ABC held the rights to broadcast the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards.[40] On January 8, 2020, during the Television Critics Association's annual winter tour, ABC announced that the ceremony would be broadcast on September 20 from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, while the Creative Arts ceremonies would be held on September 12 and 13.[41] However, the COVID-19 pandemic led to significant changes. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, also known as the Television Academy, announced on June 15 that the Creative Arts ceremonies would be presented virtually due to the pandemic. Additionally, the annual Governors Ball was cancelled for the first time in its history, with the Television Academy making a $1 million donation to the Actors Fund's COVID-19 efforts in its place.[42] The new Creative Arts dates were announced in August, with the ceremony to be aired across five nights between September 14 and 19.[43] On July 29, the main ceremony was moved to a remote format as well.[44]

Jimmy Kimmel was announced as the ceremony's host on June 16. This year marked his third time as host, following 2012 and 2016. Kimmel also served as an executive producer for the event.[45][46] In July, Guy Carrington, Reginald Hudlin, David Jammy, and Ian Stewart were added as executive producers, with Done and Dusted producing the ceremony.[47] Hamish Hamilton served as director for the event.[48]

While Kimmel presented the ceremony from the Staples Center, no in-person festivities (such as a red carpet or audience) at the venue took place.[49] Celebrity guests still made on-stage appearances, including Jennifer Aniston and Anthony Anderson.[50] The broadcast used live feeds from each nominee, with television series being represented by one of their producers. An exception was Schitt's Creek, whose cast and crew appeared together from a viewing party in Toronto.[51] To maintain a high-quality presentation, the use of video-conferencing was avoided, with producers sending "professional" cameras to each nominee's location, as well as an operator, if they so chose. Hudlin stated that they wanted to maintain a live broadcast, while Stewart argued that "we're not trying to make the Zoomies, we're trying to make the Emmys".[49] Staples Center was chosen as venue to ensure that appropriate social distancing could be practiced among crew members, and because it could support the infrastructure needed for the large number of remote feeds that would be used (estimated to be around 140).[49]

A number of comedy gags acknowledged the pandemic and the format of the ceremony: Kimmel's monologue featured a laugh track and footage of audience reactions from past Emmy ceremonies. After using a clip that depicted Kimmel himself as an audience member, he revealed the empty arena, and seats with cardboard cut-outs of nominees (except for the real Jason Bateman, whom Kimmel told could stay if he promised to laugh at his jokes; Bateman left).[52][53] Kimmel was also seen disinfecting the envelope for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series with Lysol spray; after Aniston commented that it was "a little extreme", Kimmel proceeded to throw it in a trash can and set it on fire instead.[50][54] Some awards were delivered to winners via presenters in themed Hazmat suits designed to look like formalwear.[55]

Category and rule changes

Several rule changes were announced in December 2019. First, episodes that were scheduled to air after the eligibility period closed, known as hanging episodes, were eligible for awards if they were made available on a member-accessible platform, such as the Television Academy's streaming platform, before May 31, 2020. Otherwise, those episodes would be eligible at the following year's ceremony. For limited series, all episodes had to be made available before May 31, or the series as a whole would have to compete the following year. Other changes included the elimination of DVD screeners to save money and waste, as well as a limit on actors playing the same character across multiple series – only one performance for that character could be submitted in a given year. Programs broadcast during prime time hours as an extension of daytime series were no longer eligible, and self-published programming had to be vetted to determine if it was "suitably competitive".[56][57][58]

In March 2020, the deadline for hanging episodes was extended to June 30 due to production delays stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic; the nomination and voting periods were similarly delayed. All shows were still required to premiere before May 31 to be eligible for the 2020 ceremony.[59] "For Your Consideration" events were initially moved from live settings to virtual events due to the pandemic,[60] but were later suspended entirely.[59]

On June 17, 2020, it was announced that the number of nominees in the Outstanding Comedy and Drama Series categories had been increased from seven to eight, regardless of the number of submissions. The number of nominees had last been increased from six in 2015. The Television Academy cited a 15% increase in submissions as the reason for the change. In other categories, a sliding scale based on the number of submissions would be used to determine the number of nominees; paired performance categories, such as supporting actor and actress in a comedy, would have the same number of nominees. The changes led to the elimination of the 2% rule, where submissions within 2% of the fifth-place nominee would also receive a nomination.[61][62][63]

On August 6, alongside the announcement of the Creative Arts ceremony dates, four categories were moved from the main ceremony to Creative Arts ceremonies: Directing for a Variety Series, Writing for a Variety Series, Variety Sketch Series, and Television Movie. This left 23 categories to be presented at the main ceremony. Additionally, the Governors Award was moved from its usual presentation at a Creative Arts ceremony to the main ceremony.[43]

Critical reviews and viewership

The broadcast received generally positive reviews from critics.[64][65] Time's Judy Berman called the ceremony "one of the most enjoyable awards shows in recent memory" thanks not to one major decision but instead due to the many details that succeeded. She felt Kimmel's turn as host provided some energy and consistency, even as his performance was simply okay.[66] Linda Holmes of NPR also noted that the broadcast "wasn't just watchable; it was ... pretty good", with the remote setup providing a level of intimacy and unpredictability missing from other awards shows.[67] IndieWire's Ben Travers called it "a memorable, entertaining, and technically immaculate awards show", praising the technical team and the decision to favor live speeches over recorded segments.[68]

Mike Hale of The New York Times was more critical of the ceremony, remarking that the Emmys "continued [their] trend of feeling out of tune with the way most of us watch TV". He added that the remote appearances and pretaped portions evoked nostalgia for "the hothouse atmosphere and occasional breakdowns" of live ceremonies, with spontaneity replaced by "stage-managed banality".[69] Hank Stuever from The Washington Post found that the ceremony "more than met the challenge that the pandemic handed it" but fail to inspire any permanent ideas for changes to the awards show format.[70] Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times remarked that the show "felt solid enough to accommodate the occasional technical difficulty", adding that because almost everything was unprecedented, it was "minute for minute more interesting than these long nights of self-celebration usually are". He found that Kimmel was the right host for the event, providing "a walking dose of normality" to the proceedings.[71]

The ceremony was watched by 6.36 million viewers in the United States, falling below the previous year's ceremony to become the least-watched Emmys telecast in history. It achieved a 1.3 rating among adults ages 18–49, also a record low.[72] The ceremony faced competition from both a NFL broadcast and, for the first time, a playoff game for the NBA.[1] Additionally, the ceremony lacked a red carpet show leading into the ceremony, which may have affected viewership.[73]

In Memoriam

The annual In Memoriam segment featured H.E.R. performing "Nothing Compares 2 U" on piano and electric guitar.[74][75]

Before the In Memoriam montage, Kimmel paid tribute to United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died two days before the ceremony.[76] A speech recorded by Boseman, who died on August 28, 2020, was played at the end of the montage.[77]


Following the nomination announcement, the Academy was criticized for its lack of transgender nominees. Affiliates of the FX drama Pose, which is set in New York City's queer ballroom scene, criticized the Academy for nominating Billy Porter,[78] but excluding its many transgender stars from the acting categories in addition to series writers Janet Mock and Our Lady J.[79][80] There was similar criticism from affiliates of the HBO series Euphoria, many of whom believed that transgender actress Hunter Schafer was worthy of a nomination for her performance in the series. Both series were notably missing from the Outstanding Drama Series category, a decision that was heavily criticized.[81] However, Zendaya was nominated for her lead role in Euphoria; she ultimately won, becoming the youngest actress to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.[82][83]

Further criticism came from Latinos, with no major nominations for Latin performers despite the Emmys publicizing their improved diversity in 2020. While there was a record number of Black nominees, there was only one individual Latin nomination. Hispanic and Latino representation groups said the greater diversity referred only to more African American nominees.[84][85] When the Los Angeles Times reported the criticism using the term "Black", it was itself criticized for erasing Afro-Latinos, a discussion that then prompted more investigation into this under-represented minority ethnic group in Hollywood.[86] John Leguizamo boycotted the Emmys because of its lack of Latin nominees.[87] Members of the Pose team again criticized the fact that their show's trans Afro-Latina actor Mj Rodriguez was not nominated, with Porter suggesting that because of Rodriguez's diverse background the Television Academy "don't know how to adjudicate the performance" and so simply exclude it.[88][89]

The Emmys also faced criticism from the Asian American community, leveled because Asian Americans only made up 1% of the nominees. It was argued that this is disproportionately low contrasted with increased representation.[90] Mindy Kaling, creator of Never Have I Ever, criticized the Emmys for not nominating the series for any Emmy categories, despite it being a critical success. Kaling suggested that it was overlooked because of its ethnic diversity and, in particular, for having a South Asian character as the series lead. She said: "Sometimes a show like ours will always seem ethnic or niche to a certain group of people."[91]

See also


  1. ^ Winners and nominees attended from other locations.
  2. ^ The outlets listed for each program are the U.S. broadcasters or streaming services identified in the nominations, which for some international productions are different from the broadcaster(s) that originally commissioned the program.


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