RuPauls Drag Race Dominates Sunday Creative Arts Emmys, Sets Stage For Another Competition Program Win

Go ahead and put your money on another Emmy competition program win next Sunday for “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” If the Creative Arts Emmys are any indication, and they usually are, Television Academy voters are ready to give the VH1 show a fourth consecutive victory in the category.

That would tie “RuPaul’s Drag Race” with “The Voice” as the second-most honored series in the competition category since it began in 2003. Only “The Amazing Race,” with ten, has more. (It’s a bone of contention with plenty in the industry that although this category has now existed for nearly two decades, just four shows have won.)

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” is on fire, starting with RuPaul Charles, who won the host for a reality or competition program for a sixth consecutive time. (Ru had already made history by breaking the record in the category last year, this just further cements his dominance.)

Charles is also poised to make history in another way: Per his reps, he has now tied the record for the most Emmy wins by a person of color (tied with cinematographer Donald A. Morgan). If “RuPaul’s Drag Race” wins at next week’s Emmys for competition program, which we have just written is very likely, he will break the record, with 11.

The show won four during the Sunday afternoon Creative Arts Emmys ceremony, the second of three events held this weekend. “Drag Race” also nabbed the win for directing a reality program (for Nick Murray), which “Drag Race” had last won in 2018 (last year it went to Netflix’s “Cheer”). Also adding to the franchise’s dominance: “RuPaul’s Drag Race Untucked” won the unstructured reality category — its first win there. (“Cheer” won there.)

“Drag Race” additionally repeated its casting for a reality program win, which it also picked up last year, as well as picture editing for a structured reality or competition show (another repeat from 2020). So all told, the franchise actually won five this year so far.

In other words, Television Academy voters like what they like, and that’s great news for the incumbents in the annual Emmy race — and perhaps a bit discouraging for those aiming to break through. There are always the newcomers that arrive and dominate (witness what we’re about to see with “Ted Lasso”), but during the second of three Creative Arts Emmys, a lot of familiar faces were once again honored.

“Queer Eye” landed its fourth consecutive win for structured reality program, for example. That’s a milestone for the show, as it now ties “Shark Tank” for most-ever wins in the category (which was launched in 2001).

Maya Rudolph once again won character voice-over performance for “Big Mouth” as Connie the Hormone Monstress, among others, making it her second year in a row. (And likely setting the stage later on Sunday for another guest actress in a comedy win).

Other returning winners included the fourth consecutive win for “Life Below Zero” in outstanding cinematography for a reality program.

Still some newbies shook the afternoon ceremony up.

It was a good day for CNN, which reclaimed the hosted nonfiction series or special category, for “Stanley Tucci Searching for Italy.” It’s a field that the news network’s “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” won in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. (A&E’s “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” won last year and in 2020).

Also for CNN, “Lincoln: Divided We Stand’s” Sterling K. Brown won as narrator (adding another Emmy to his collection). That broke a three-year streak for famed narrator David Attenborough, but his presence was still felt, via multiple wins for “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet” (cinematography for a nonfiction program, music composition for a documentary series or special/original dramatic score, and sound mixing for a nonfiction or reality program among them).

Also scoring its first animated program Emmy was Adult Swim’s “Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal.” That means Adult Swim has won this category three out of the last four years (“Rick and Morty” won in 2018 and 2020).

Among other winners, there were some surprises: Disney Plus scored a big one in the documentary or nonfiction series field, for James Cameron’s “Secrets of the Whales,” beating out high-profile entries like “Allen v. Farrow,” “City So Real,” “Pretend It’s a City” and “American Masters.”

And then there’s the interesting case of docs. Netflix’s ‪”Dick Johnson Is Dead” won the Emmy for outstanding directing for a documentary/nonfiction program, while Apple TV Plus’ “Boys State” won for documentary or nonfiction special, and Pluto TV (in its first Emmy win) picked up the exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking award for “76 Days.” (That’s also the first win for producer MTV Documentary Films.) Having previously been submitted in the Oscar race, none of those would not have been eligible as of next year, now that the TV Academy has ruled that starting in 2022, documentary films placed on the AMPAS viewing platform will be ineligible for Emmy consideration.

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