HBO’s record-breaking fantasy epic Game of Thrones stormed back onto the Emmys stage on Monday, winning the coveted best drama series prize on a night full of surprises, including an on-air marriage proposal that stunned the audience.
The other big story of the gala, television’s answer to the Oscars, was the huge success of eight Emmys overall for best comedy series The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Amazon’s story of a 1950s housewife-turned-stand up comic.
The Handmaid’s Tale, last year’s best drama and an early favorite went home empty-handed from the event at the Microsoft Theater, having won three minor awards handed out a week ago.
The ceremony hosted by Saturday Night Live regulars Colin Jost and Michael Che took on a decidedly political hue, with a barrage of edgy jokes on hot-button issues such as diversity in Hollywood, #MeToo and President Donald Trump.
The gala also saw a handful of sentimental favorites take home their first Emmys.
Matthew Rhys won for best drama actor for spy thriller The Americans, Claire Foy was named best drama actress for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown and Henry Winkler triumphed for supporting comedy acting on Barry.
But the coveted drama prize went to Game of Thrones, which was ineligible for last year’s Emmys. Peter Dinklage took home the best supporting actor prize for his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister.
“Writing for these actors behind us is the honor of a lifetime,” said series co-creator David Benioff
“But we didn’t invent these characters. That was George R R Martin. The show could not be without the mad genius of George.”
It won nine Emmys this year, meaning the blood-spattered tale of the battle for the Iron Throne, which returns in 2019 for an abbreviated eighth and final season, now has 47 awards overall.
That breaks the program’s own record as the most decorated fictional show since the Television Academy first handed out prizes in 1949.
In the comedy categories, Mrs Maisel bested all comers in its first year of eligibility, sweeping the female acting prizes (star Rachel Brosnahan and co-star Alex Borstein) and best series honours.
Earlier this year, the series won two Golden Globes.
HBO dark comedy Barry notched two acting wins, for Winkler and series star Bill Hader.
Other big winners included FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace, which won Emmys for best limited series and best lead actor in a limited series for Darren Criss, who took a dark turn as the designer’s killer Andrew Cunanan.
Thandie Newton won the best supporting actress in a drama statuette for her work on HBO’s futuristic western Westworld.
Saturday Night Live won the award for best variety sketch series.
In the emerging battle of traditional networks vs new platforms, streaming giant Netflix and HBO ended in a dead heat at the top: at 23 Emmys each.
Here is a list of the winners in key categories for the 70th Emmy Awards, which were handed out in Los Angeles:
Outstanding Drama Series: Game of Thrones
Outstanding Comedy Series: The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
Best Lead Actor, Drama: Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Best Lead Actress, Drama Series: Claire Foy, The Crown
Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Thandie Newton, Westworld
Writing, Drama Series: Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, The Americans
Directing, Drama Series: Stephen Daldry, The Crown
Actor, Comedy Series: Bill Hader, Barry
Actress, Comedy Series: Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Henry Winkler, Barry
Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
Writing, Comedy Series: Amy Sherman-Palladino, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Directing Comedy Series: Amy Sherman-Palladino, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Limited Series: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Actor, Limited Series or Movie: Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Actress, Limited Series or Movie: Regina King, Seven Seconds
Supporting Actor, Limited Series or Movie: Jeff Daniels, Godless
Supporting Actress, Limited Series or Movie: Merritt Wever, Godless
Writing, Limited Series: William Bridges and Charlie Brooker, USS Callister (Black Mirror)
Directing, Limited Series: Ryan Murphy, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Writing, Variety Special: John Mulaney, John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City
Directing, Variety Special: Glenn Weiss, The Oscars
Variety Sketch Series: Saturday Night Live
Variety Talk Series: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Reality-Competition Program: RuPaul’s Drag Race