It was inevitable that a streaming service would win an Emmy for best drama at some point. But no one expected Hulu to get there first.
Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” won TV’s most prestigious prize here on Sunday night at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, beating out competitors from HBO, NBC and Netflix.
Even though Hulu has a smaller programming budget than competitors like Netflix and Amazon, it became the first streaming service to land a best drama victory. It was the capstone of a big night for a relatively new entrant in the awards arena: Elisabeth Moss, formerly of “Mad Men,” finally won her first Emmy for her portrayal as Offred in “Handmaid’s’’, and the show also took home prizes for writing and directing.
As the producers and cast gathered onstage to accept the award, they were joined by Ms. Atwood, who received a rousing ovation.
The success of “Handmaid’s” — a story resonant with those who worry about women’s rights in America — came during a ceremony that was decidedly political. “Saturday Night Live” also stormed the Emmys, winning the best variety sketch category for the first time in more than two decades.
The show’s feature players swept the supporting comedy acting awards, with acting wins from Alec Baldwin, for his portrayal of President Trump, and Kate McKinnon, who played Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (among other characters).
Mr. Trump was top of mind all night. From the Emmys stage, he was invoked again and again, and the comments were often highly charged. “I want to thank Trump for making black people No. 1 on the most oppressed list,” Donald Glover said as he accepted one of his two awards for the FX comedy “Atlanta.”
In his opening monologue, the host Stephen Colbert declared President Trump the biggest story of the year in television and then introduced a surprise guest, the former White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
The win by “Handmaid’s” is a blow to Netflix, which spent millions marketing its shows before Emmy voters, and once again fell short of winning best drama despite the fact it claimed nearly half of the nominated shows in the category.
And it was also a huge defeat for NBC, which finally hit pay dirt in the ratings with its hugely popular family drama, “This Is Us.” A broadcast network was in its first viable position to win the drama award for the first time in more than a decade but a streaming service blocked the way.
Here are the highlights from Sunday’s ceremony: