Female-Fronted Shows Crushed It at the Emmys

“Big Little Lies” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” take home top prizes

The 69th annual Emmy awards was a big one for women, as female-fronted shows swept major categories, with big wins for three shows celebrated for having unexpected relevance to current events.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” was the big winner Sunday night, taking home the Best Drama series prize, but also numerous other awards, including Lead Actress (Elisabeth Moss) and Supporting Actress (Ann Dowd) in a Drama, Best Writing and Best Directing, among others.

In total, “Handmaid’s Tale” won seven awards out of the 11 nominations it received. Six women took home prizes, including Alexis Bledel for Guest Actress, Reed Morano for directing, and Julie Berghoff and Sophie Neudorfer for production design.

Close behind it was “Big Little Lies,” which swept the Limited Series or TV Movie categories. The HBO drama features an all-star cast of women including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Laura Dern, and netted three acting awards for Kidman, Dern and Alexander Skarsgard. Overall, it was nominated for 10 and won six. “Big Little Lies” beat out other shows like “Feud: Bette and Joan,” which also netted multiple nominations for its female cast members.

And HBO’s “Veep” also won big, continuing its long run of success. Star Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy for the sixth time in a row, giving her the record for most primetime wins for the same role, and tied for the most-ever primetime acting wins. And the show itself, which skewers the American political system while following the struggles of failed presidential candidate Selina Meyer, took home Outstanding Comedy Series for the third year in a row.

“Handmaid’s Tale,” about a dystopia where women are stripped of all their rights and forced into what amounts to reproductive slavery, was cited as especially relevant in 2017. Showrunner Bruce Miller acknowledged that fact early on while talking to reporters after his Best Writing win. “Nowadays people are worried they live in a society where big things happening… such a terrible oppressive situation and still find ways to rebel,” he said.

Later on, when accepting the award for Best Drama at the end of the night, Miller was even more direct; “Go home and get to work, we have a lot of things to fight for,” he said.

“Big Little Lies,” on the other hand, touches upon some serious subjects such as rape and domestic abuse. It’s also been praised for depicting strong relationships between women.

Each of the actors on the HBO show have gone on record about the complexity of their characters and how the show has presented amazing opportunities for them as actresses.

“Thank God we’re seeing more and more women,” Dern said backstage to reporters after her win. “Revolution creates voice and voice is exciting… It’s a beautiful time to be female.”

Witherspoon added during the acceptance speech that it’s been “an incredible year for women in television and women getting to tell their own stories.”