4 storylines to watch at the 2019 Emmys

Many of the biggest stars in television and streaming entertainment gather tonight in Los Angeles for the Emmy Awards, the U.S. Television Academy's annual celebration of excellence.

Here are four storylines to keep track of as the awards get underway:

No host

Following in the award-show footsteps of the Oscars and the Canadian Screen Awards, the Emmys have nixed the notion of a traditional emcee (or two).

Instead, a cavalcade of famous presenters will be expected to keep the show moving. Lilly Singh, Viola Davis, Michael Douglas, RuPaul, Amy Poehler and the casts of Game of Thrones, Veep and Keeping Up with the Kardashians are just a taste of who's on the bill.

No host likely means the evening will be light on sketches, although we're not complaining. One of last year's most delightful moments was impromptu and totally unplanned (by organizers, anyway): the surprise on-stage marriage proposal Oscars director Glenn Weiss, winner of best direction of a variety special, made to his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen.

Canadians in the spotlight

It's a banner year for Cancon at the Emmys, with Canadians in the running for a host of top honours. 

Beloved sitcom Schitt's Creek, created by father-son team Eugene and Dan Levy, is a key contender for best comedy series. The series also picked up comedy acting nods for Levy Sr. and on-screen spouse Catherine O'Hara.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/The Associated Press

Killing Eve star Sandra Oh earned her second consecutive nomination for lead actress in a drama, while Samantha Bee's late-night talk show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee will compete for best variety talk series and best writing for a variety series. 

Other Canadians up for honours include Jean-Marc Vallée, who executive produced and directed best limited series contender Sharp Objects, and Sarah Goldberg, a supporting actress nominee for the dark comedy Barry. 

HBO's swan songs

Will prestige TV purveyor HBO win big tonight with two acclaimed productions — Game of Thrones and Veep — that delivered their swan songs earlier this year?

Groundbreaking fantasy series GoT already set a record on nominations day with its 32 nods, the most for a show in a single year, and comes into Emmy night with 10 trophies ahead after last week's Creative Arts Emmys

Jordan Strauss/Invision/The Associated Press

Potential for historic wins

The night could also see some history made if certain performers triumph.  

If Emmy darling and Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus wins best lead actress in a comedy, she would become the most decorated performer in Emmy history (she currently has eight) and winner of the most Emmys for performing the same role. She was previously honoured in every season of the scathing political satire, missing out in 2018 only due to the show's hiatus while she sought breast cancer treatment, and has also won Emmys for Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine.

Justin M. Lubin/HBO/The Associated Press

Once again, Canadian performer Oh could make history as the first actress of Asian heritage to win a lead actress in a drama series Emmy. 

Meanwhile, if Billy Porter — acclaimed for his turn in the ballroom culture series Pose  is crowned winner of lead actor in drama series, he becomes the first openly gay man to triumph in the category.

How to watch

The 71st annual Emmy Awards will be broadcast live from Los Angeles tonight at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.