LOS ANGELES >> “Game of Thrones” conquered the Emmy kingdom Sunday, honored as top drama for the second consecutive year and becoming the most honored prime-time TV series ever on a night of surprises and sharp political jabs.
“Veep” repeated as best comedy series and its star, Julia-Louis Dreyfus, won a record-breaking sixth Emmy as best comedy actress. Jeffrey Tambor’s trophy as top comedy actor for “Transparent” also was his second.
But the top drama acting trophies were far from predictable: Rami Malek of “Mr. Robot” and Tatiana Maslany of “Orphan Black” were the winners, both overcoming heavyweight competition.
“Oh, my God. Please tell me you’re seeing this too,” said a stunned Malek, who plays an emotionally troubled engineer caught up in a dangerous hacking conspiracy.
“Game of Thrones,” the fantasy saga based on George R.R. Martin’s novels, received three awards Sunday and nine at last weekend’s technical arts ceremony for a cumulative 38, besting “Frasier” by one to claim the most prime-time series awards ever.
The Emmys proved more adroit than the Oscars at recognizing and honoring diversity in Hollywood’s top ranks, with trophies going to minority actors and behind-the-scenes artists including writers Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang of “Master of None.”
Louis-Dreyfus used her victory to take a dig at GOP contender Donald Trump in a ceremony loaded with election-year asides.
Tambor captured his second consecutive best comedy actor trophy for “Transparent,” in which he plays a transgender character. He called for Hollywood to make him the last nontransgender actor to get such a role.
A shaking Louis-Dreyfus ended her speech by dedicating the trophy to her father, who she said died Friday. Before that, she honed in on Trump’s campaign.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to personally apologize for the current political climate,” she said. “I think that ‘Veep’ has torn down the wall between comedy and politics. Our show started out as a political satire but it now feels more like a sobering documentary.”
She promised to “rebuild that wall and make Mexico pay for it.”
Her victory gave her six best-comedy wins — five for “Veep,” one for “The New Adventures of Old Christine” — and broke her tie with Candice Bergen and Mary Tyler Moore.
John Oliver captured the best variety talk series award for “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” besting competitors including Jerry Seinfeld and host Jimmy Kimmel.
“The People v. O.J. Simpson,” which earned the second-highest number of nominations, converted five to trophies Sunday.
The dramatic retelling of the football star’s murder trial was honored as best limited series and writing, and earned awards for stars Courtney B. Vance, Sterling K. Brown and Sarah Paulson.
“Obama out, Hillary in,” Vance said as he wrapped his victory speech.
Regina King claimed the award for supporting actress in a limited series for “American Crime,” her second trophy for the program.
Louie Anderson was honored as best supporting actor in a comedy series for his portrayal of a loving but tough mom in “Baskets.”
“Mom, we did it!” Anderson shouted, hoisting his trophy and dedicating the award to his late mother, Ora Zella Anderson. “I have not always been a good man, but I play one hell of a woman.”
“Saturday Night Live” cast member Kate McKinnon won the trophy for best supporting actress in a comedy for, officially, playing various characters. But she knew who to credit.
“Thank you, Ellen DeGeneres, thank you, Hillary Clinton,” she said, naming two of the famous people she’s caricatured on the show.
The Democratic presidential contender responded quickly with a tweet: “Congratulations on your Emmy, Kate! Big fan of yours, too.”
A pair of key changes made by the TV academy may have affected the outcomes in Sunday’s 27 categories.
It revised how votes are cast and counted, switching from a ranking and points system to letting voters simply check off their top choice. That sharpened the selection process and might have affected past winners who managed to collect enough second-place votes to overcome the competition.
In another revision, this one implemented last year, voting was expanded from blue-ribbon panels to — depending on the award — giving substantially more or all of the academy’s 20,000-plus members the chance to vote for finalists.