The 9 biggest surprises at the 2017 Emmys

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Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe.
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Sunday night’s Emmys featured historic wins and one shocking appearance from a former White House staffer.

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Stephen Colbert, took place at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

There were quite a few surprises, starting with the appearance of Sean Spicer. “Atlanta,” “Big Little Lies,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” got some big wins, proving that diversity and great roles for women work and resonate, including with Emmy voters.

From Spicer’s appearance to Ann Dowd’s win to Donald Glover making history, these were the biggest surprises at the 2017 Emmy Awards:


Sean Spicer showed up for some reason.

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Sean Spicer at the Emmy Awards.
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During Stephen Colbert’s opening monologue, the former White House press secretary Sean Spicer took the stage, shocking everyone in the audience – including Melissa McCarthy.


Laura Dern won outstanding supporting actress in a limited series.

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Dern wasn’t the favorite to win in the outstanding supporting actress in a limited series category, but she started the “Big Little Lies” winning streak with hers early in the night. This was Dern’s sixth nomination since 1992 and her first win.


Ann Dowd won outstanding supporting actress in a drama for her role in “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

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Dowd looked like she couldn’t believe she won when her name was announced. Many were expecting Chrissy Metz to win the Emmy in this category for her work on “This Is Us,” which might be why Dowd seemed so surprised.


Riz Ahmed won outstanding lead actor in a limited series for “The Night Of.”

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In this category, Ewan McGregor was the favorite to win for his role in season three of “Fargo.”


Donald Glover won outstanding lead actor in a comedy series and outstanding directing for a comedy series.

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Glover made Emmys history as the first black person to win in the comedy directing category. In the lead actor in a comedy series category, Glover beat Emmy favorite Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”).


Lena Waithe became the first black woman to win an Emmy for outstanding writing in a comedy series.

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She wrote the “Thanksgiving” episode of “Master of None” with Aziz Ansari. The episode is about Waithe’s character coming out to her mom, played by Angela Bassett. Waite and Ansari received a standing ovation when they got to the stage.


Nicole Kidman thanked the voters for acknowledging domestic abuse.

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Kidman won outstanding lead actress in a limited series for her role on “Big Little Lies,” in which she played a woman in an abusive marriage.

“We’ve shone a light on domestic abuse,” she said. “It is a complicated, insidious disease. It exists far more than we allow ourselves to know. It is filled with shame and secrecy, and by you acknowledging me with this award, it shines a light on it even more.”


“The Handmaid’s Tale” won outstanding drama series.

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The favorite in this category was NBC’s “This Is Us,” a more commercially appealing show than the dark and sometimes hard to watch “Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu, a relative newcomer to the TV world.


This isn’t much of a surprise, but the big winners of the night prove that diverse storytelling works.

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A wide range of shows telling honest stories about a wide variety of people won Emmys on Sunday night, showing that diversity not only works but resonates.

Waithe won for her work on an episode about a black woman coming out as gay; both of Glover’s wins were for “Atlanta,” a show about life in the black community; and wins for “Big Little Lies” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” show that women, no matter their age, have interesting, thoughtful stories to tell.