Delayed by the WGA and SAG strikes in the early spring and summer of 2023, the 75th Emmy Awards already had anticipation backing attention toward the ceremony, but the casts of “The Bear,” “Succession” and more delivered rousing acceptance speeches, crossover interactions and honest emotional moments that solidified the ceremony as a great watch.
From surprise appearances like that of “Dead to Me” star Christina Applegate to reunions between the casts of “Cheers,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and some of the “Grey’s Anatomy” stars, most of the awards presentations were teed up by star power making way for the winners.
Here are the best moments of the 75th Emmy Awards:
Christina Applegate’s standing ovation
The “Dead to Me Actress” presented the first award of the night for Best Supporting Actress in a comedy series. Her appearance on the stage at the Peacock Theater led to a standing ovation that brought Applegate to tears. She tried to deflect the emotions over her battle with multiple sclerosis (MS) with comedy. “Thank you so much,” Applegate said in response to the applause. “Oh my God, you’re totally shaming me with disability by standing up. It’s fine…Body not by Ozempic. Okay, let’s go.” As the applause continued, she further countered, “We don’t have to applaud every time I do something.” She then begged Ayo Edebiri to get her ass onstage to accept the Emmy award.
Carol Burnett jokes about male-dominated comedy space
Carol Burnett followed Christina Applegate to appear for a tribute to her comedy show, which won 25 Primetime Emmys during its eleven-year run. “I was lucky enough to be the first female host of a comedy variety show from 1967 to 1978, and that was a long time ago. And I just want to say that a lot has changed in the last 46 years for the better,” she said. “Progress has been made and it truly warms my heart to see how well men are doing in comedy. Good.” This dig came fresh off of Jo Koy’s less-than-satisfying hosting of the Golden Globes — according to many. Burnett then presented the award for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy, which went to Quinta Brunson.
Pedro Pascal answers Kieran Culkin’s Golden Globes poke
A new celebrity banter continued between “The Last of Us” star Pedro Pascal and “Succession” star Kieran Culkin. Culkin started it at the Golden Globes when he jokingly called out Pedro Pascal after he won the Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Series over Pascal. “Suck it, Pedro. I’m sorry,” he called out. “Mine!” Pascal took the opportunity to get back at Culkin tonight, before presenting the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. “A lot of people have been asking about my arm. It’s actually my shoulder. And I think tonight is a perfect time to tell everyone that Kieran Culkin beat the s—t out of me,” Pascal joked before the camera quickly cut to a caught-off-guard Culkin. Both actors competed in the category for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
Niecy Nash thanks herself
Niecy Nash’s acceptance speech for winning Outstanding Supporting Actress in “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” touched on her work with Ryan Murphy and Evan Peters, her wife, the #BlackLivesMatter movement and more. “Thank you to God for this divine moment. Thank you, Ryan Murphy for seeing me. Evan Peters, I love you. And Netflix. Every single person who voted for me, thank you and my better half who picked me up when I was gutted from this work, thank you,” Nash-Betts began, but she saved the best thanks for last. “And you know who I want to thank? I want to thank me for believing in me and doing what they said I could not do. And I want to say to myself in front of all these beautiful people, ‘Go on girl with your bad self. You did that.’ Finally, I accept this award on behalf of every Black and brown woman who has gone unheard, yet over-policed like Glenda Cleveland like Sandra Bland, like Breanna Taylor. As an artist my job is to speak truth to power and baby I’m going to do it until the day I die.”
RuPaul calls for People to listen to drag queens
RuPaul had a great way of accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition Program. “Listen, you guys are just pure, lovely fun in our show and recognizing these queens. We have released into the wild hundreds of drag queens, and they’re beautiful,” he said. “On behalf of all of them, we thank you. And listen, if a drag queen wants to read you a story at a library, listen to her because knowledge is power, and if someone tries to restrict your access to power they are trying to scare you. So listen to a drag queen. We love you. Thank you.” The competition host’s message proves poignant at a time when gender and sexuality are being restricted, especially in the form of banned books.
The “Cheers” reunion
Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger and Kelsey Grammer reunited in the iconic bar setting of “Cheers,” which won 28 Primetime Emmys in its run between 1982 and 1993. They looked back on this time with fond memories, from Danson’s nostalgia for playing bartender Sam to John Ratzenberger’s classification of the moment as more of a “long overdue high school reunion. Ratzenberger played Cliff Calvin, and Rhea Perlman, who played Carla Tortelli, asked for the envelope to present the award winner. At this point, George Wendt, who played Norm Peterson on “Cheers,” entered the bar to give out the results.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s Weekend Update
The dynamic duo, who are currently on their “Restless Leg” comedy tour, returned to the Emmys stage to, in their words, “present awards sitting down.” The pair delivered a joke about Rihanna’s Super Bowl Half-Time Show, during which her second pregnancy was revealed. Amy Poehler also took a gentle dig at the cycle of books to movies to musicals and back to movies. Tina Fey butted in to whisper, “There’s nothing wrong with that.”
GLAAD accepts Governor’s Award
The 2024 Emmys Governor Award went to GLAAD. CEO Sarah Kate Ellis accepted the award, highlighting how important the recognition remains in a time of tension for transgender people especially. “The world urgently needs culture-changing stories about transgender people,” Ellis said. “More people say they have seen a ghost than know a transgender person. When you don’t know someone, it’s easy to demonize them. Visibility opens doors. It is life-saving.”
Lee Sung Jin’s acceptance speech for “Beef” Win for Best Limited Series
Showrunner and creator of “Beef” Lee Sung Jin gave a thoughtful speech when he and his team accepted the Emmy for Best Limited or Anthology Series or Movie. “You know, a lot of the suicidal ideation in this show was based on stuff that I and some of the folks up here have struggled with over the years, and so I’m really grateful and humbled by everyone who watched the show and reached out about their own personal struggles. It’s very life-affirming. So thank you,” he said. “I feel like we live in a world designed to kind of keep us separate. You know, even here some of us go home with trophies, other people don’t. And I think for some of us, when we live in a world like this, you begin to think that there’s no way anyone can ever understand you, or like you and much less even, you know, no potential at being loved. And so the greatest joy of working on ‘Beef’ has truly been working with the folks up here who love so unconditionally. So you know, thank you to them and to anyone out there who you know directly or indirectly was involved with the show.” The series boss also shouted out his dogs. “Thank you so much. And lastly, everything I do is for my three dogs so the Federal Drug Administration if you could please fast-track that canine anti-aging pill, that will be so lovely. Thank you so much.”
Norman Lear’s spotlight and “Friends” theme for Matthew Perry during In Memoriam
Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner introduced the 75th Emmys In Memoriam segment by honoring iconic television writer and producer Norman Lear. Lear’s spotlight made way for several stars lost between the 2022 Emmys and now, from Stephen “Twitch” Boss to Leslie Jordan to Barbara Walters to Angus Cloud to Andre Braugher. Charlie Puth and The War and Treaty started by singing “See You Again” and switching to the “Friends” theme song to highlight the loss of Matthew Perry. The emotional sequence played in sepia shots of all the stars lost followed by a college of them together on the final note.
Kieran Culkin acceptance speech for “Succession”
While Kieran Culkin, who plays Roman Roy in “Succession,” didn’t advance his friendly jabs at Pedro Pascal, he did give an emotional and heartfelt speech about his win. Culkin thanked Jesse Armstrong and his castmates, and the camera panned to costar Sarah Snook crying. He thanked his mom for giving birth to him and for giving him a childhood that he loved. He also thanked his agents who “kept his name in the conversation,” and, ultimately, his wife Jazz Charton, whom he begged for more children. “I want more,” he unabashedly told her from the stage. “You said maybe if I win!”
That Kiss When “The Bear” Won Best Comedy
“The Bear” star Ebon Moss-Bachrach went in for a long, deep smooch on the lips with his costar Matty Matheson, who plays Neil Fak in the kitchen comedy series, when they won for Best Comedy. Matheson enthusiastically came up for air and gave a rousing speech thanking restaurant owners, industry employees and more. He acknowledged the hard work of food service industry workes and thanked his wife and kids as Moss-Bachrach joined in for the pair to alternate their acceptance speech shoutouts before the clock ran out.
MLK Day Tribute at the End
The 75th Emmy Awards acknowledged airing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, after being postponed due to the to the WGA and SAG strikes, several times throughout the telecast. Host Anthony Anderson left viewers with a clip from MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which the Television Academy deemed one of the most influential and monumental TV moments in the history of the Emmys. The host also nodded to the holiday when he mentioned “the chocolate Emmys”; “Abbott Elementary” star Sheryl Lee Ralph wished “Wednesday” star Jenna Ortega a Happy MLK Day, which Ortega returned; and Peter Dinklage, who addressed the room as “hotties,” also acknowledged the federal holiday.