The 9 Biggest Jaw-Droppers at the 2021 Emmys

Ted Lasso, The Crown and The Queen's Gambit all felt the love at the 2021 Emmy Awards, but viewers were the real winners, as the stunning moments kept coming.

By Ryan Gajewski Sep 20, 2021 7:00 AMTags

The 2021 Emmy Awards ceremony found a way to keep us constantly wowed, even if the selection of winners wasn't always surprising.

During the annual celebration of all things television-related on Sunday, Sept. 19, voters made it fairly clear which shows they liked the most. After all, Ted Lasso, The Queen's Gambit, Mare of Easttown and The Crown were among the big winners, as they all picked up multiple trophies. 

However, there were still plenty of moments that left viewers having trouble believing what they just watched. After all, with Cedric the Entertainer serving as host, the night got fans talking right from the start, as he and a slew of other stars grabbed the mic to rap new lyrics for late musician Biz Markie's classic anthem "Just a Friend."

Other television personalities who made their presences known throughout the night were Kate WinsletConan O'Brien, Michaela Coel, Jason Sudeikis and the cast of last year's big winner, Schitt's Creek. 

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2021 Emmys: Best Dressed Stars

There were also moments that some viewers didn't appear to love, including The Queen's Gambit co-creator Scott Frank taking his sweet time as he accepted the award for Outstanding Limited Series on behalf of Anya Taylor-Joy and the rest of the cast. 

Keep scrolling to see which 2021 Emmys moments we can't stop thinking about. 

An Entertaining Way to Begin

Host Cedric the Entertainer kicked off the event with a rendition of the classic rap song "Just a Friend" by late performer Biz Markie

Cedric began the rap himself as a tribute to television, which he called his "best friend." He was later joined by LL Cool J, Rita WilsonThis Is Us' Mandy Moore and Susan Kelechi Watson, Black-ish's Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, and Pose star Billy Porter.

"That was wild," Seth Rogen said as he presented an award shortly after the tune ended. "That was truly insane, I was not expecting that. That was like when I was listening to music with my mom, and she knew all the words to 'WAP.'"

Conan Goes Out With a Bang

With his talk show having said goodbye in June, Conan O'Brien celebrated by getting a little goofy.

As Frank Scherma, the chairman and CEO of the Television Academy, took the stage to speak about representation, Conan loudly screamed and gave a lengthy standing ovation, including saluting the executive during the speech. 

Later, Conan was seen celebrating on stage as Stephen Colbert accepted his The Late Show team's win for Outstanding Variety Special Live. The only thing was, Conan wasn't at all involved in the winning special. 

"Most of the people behind me really deserve this Emmy right now," Stephen quipped. 

Later, Stephen told reporters he had previously invited Conan to join him on stage if the special won. "We're honored to be superfans of Conan O'Brien," he added.

Hacks' Co-Creators Quietly Got Hitched

Perhaps the sweetest moment from the night was Hacks' Lucia Aniello announcing during her acceptance speech for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series that she and fellow show co-creator Paul W. Downs recently tied the knot.

"I'm in love with you, which is why I married you last weekend," she said about Paul, who is both her longtime professional and romantic partner. 

During the press room that followed, Paul, who co-stars as manager Jimmy on the HBO Max comedy, joked about the nuptials. "Well, it wasn't as good as this [meaning their Emmy wins]," he said. "This is really very wild and very special. The wedding was beautiful—it was great."

Seth Rogen Is Confused in More Ways Than One

Poor Seth Rogen didn't seem to be up to speed about the ceremony in multiple ways. 

When the actor took the stage to present an award after the opening musical number, he said he felt producers "lied" to him about the nature of the show and that he was led to believe it would be indoors. 

"They lied to us," a stunned Seth told the crowd. "We're in a hermetically sealed tent right now. I would not have come to this. Why is there a roof? This is insane."

He added, "It's more important that we have three chandeliers than that we make sure we don't kill Eugene Levy tonight." 

Then, Seth went on to present the prize for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, but he may have still been a bit frazzled. Indeed, social media users remarked that the actor appeared to mispronounce winner Hannah Waddingham's name as "Hannah Waddington."

Kerry Washington Paid Tribute to Michael K. Williams

Although the late Michael K. Williams didn't win in his category at the 2021 Emmys, Kerry Washington made sure the late actor got the spotlight he greatly deserved with an emotional tribute

Michael, who died on Sept. 6 at the age of 54, earned an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series nomination for his role in Lovecraft Country. Before Kerry presented the Emmy, which went to The Crown's Tobias Menzies, she told the crowd that The Wire alum's "excellence and artistry will endure." 

Kerry said, "Michael was—so crazy to say, was—a brilliantly talented actor and a generous human being who has left us far too soon." She concluded by saying directly to the star, "I know you are here because you wouldn't miss it."

Schitt's Creek Reunion Makes a Splash

It's hard to believe it was only a year ago that the Schitt's Creek team made its major mark on the 2020 Emmy Awards, nabbing nine trophies.

Stars Dan Levy, Eugene Levy, Annie Murphy and Catherine O'Hara reunited at the 2021 ceremony, earning a standing ovation before presenting Outstanding Writing For a Comedy Series. But the performers appeared to have a little trouble with reading their lines, which turned out to be a planned bit.

After they noticed nothing was apparently written on the teleprompter, Dan asked, "Why would anyone want to embarrass us on national television on purpose?" 

Eugene initially denied having anything to do with it before admitting that his attempt to give notes to the awards show's writers may have backfired. "I may have passed the writers' room this morning and asked them to lift the dialogue a little bit," he explained.

Acceptance Speeches That Had Us Reaching for Kleenex

Among the night's most touching acceptance speeches was one from Jason Sudeikis, who picked up his award for playing the title Ted Lasso role by acknowledging the show is about family, mentors and teammates and adding, "I wouldn't be here without those three things in my life."

As for Kate Winslet, the actress seemed genuinely wowed by the standing ovation she received for her Mare of Easttown win. "Mom, Mom, they're standing up," she told the crowd. "Oh, my god! Thank you so much."

The night's most emotional moment might have come courtesy of I May Destroy You star and creator Michaela Coel, who was honored for writing her HBO series that she based on her real-life trauma. During her acceptance speech, she addressed writers by saying, "Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn't comfortable. I dare you."

Michaela concluded her message with, "I dedicate this story to every single survivor of sexual assault."

Adam Driver's Surprising Shout-Out

Last Week Tonight's writers wanted Adam Driver to know they hadn't yet gotten him off their minds after host John Oliver peppered some of his 2020 episodes with oddly suggestive pleas aimed at the Star Wars actor.

"He knows what he did, and we know what we'd like him to do," one of the HBO late-night show's writers told the audience after dedicating their award to Adam.

The Queen's Gambit Co-Creator's Odd Move

There were no surprises when it came to the three main awards. As expected, Ted Lasso won for Outstanding Comedy Series, The Crown took Outstanding Drama Series and The Queen's Gambit prevailed as Outstanding Limited Series

However, there were still plenty of fired-up reactions as the show ended. The Queen's Gambit co-creator Scott Frank rubbed some viewers the wrong way when he gave a lengthy speech about the series that starred Anya Taylor-Joy, with social media users remarking that he seemed disrespectful. 

At one point, Scott told the ceremony's producers, "Seriously, stop the music," and then proceeded to talk loudly over the orchestra without taking the hint to wrap it up. 

Visit E!'s 2021 Emmy Awards page for a recap of TV's biggest night.