‘Breaking Bad’ & ‘Modern Family’ lead familiar Emmy winners list
The easiest way to win an Emmy is to have already won an Emmy, and rarely has that wisdom proved more true than at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, where "Breaking Bad" and "Modern Family" repeated last year's best drama and comedy series wins, and where you had to squint sometimes to find a person and/or show that hadn't accepted one of these trophies before.
Beyond the top two prizes, 16 of the remaining 24 awards presented during Monday night's telecast went to people who had won before — often in that same category, and for that same show.
The first hour of the show alone featured exactly zero new winners, and only Allison Janney from "Mom" was winning for a role (and category) for which she had not won previous — and it was her sixth overall Emmy and second this month (after a guest acting win for "Masters of Sex"). Jim Parsons won his fourth lead comedy actor award in five years, Louis CK his second writing award in three, Julia Louis-Dreyfus her third lead actress award in a row, "Modern Family" helmer Gail Mancuso her second directing award in a row, etc.
Our night's first brand-new Emmy winner was "Sherlock" writer Steven Moffat — whose show wound up winning seven Emmys overall (also including stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman) even though it was in its third season and had no real business in the movies and miniseries categories except for the vagaries of Emmy rules. (It doesn't produce enough episodes in a season to qualify as a drama.) By the time FX's brilliant "Fargo" and HBO's star-studded "The Normal Heart" won the respective awards for outstanding miniseries and movie (the latter an enormous relief to awards-conscious HBO executives), it was almost stunning to not see "Sherlock" somehow winning both. The movies and minis categories are, in theory, the one segment of the show where something or someone new has to win the majority of the time, and yet many of the awards somehow went to an ongoing series. (And for added category confusion, "Fargo" and "American Horror Story" are considered miniseries, while "True Detective" was up as a drama, while long-running series "Luther" and "Tremé" were also nominated as miniseries.)
(It was also by far the weakest of the three "Sherlock" seasons, and the episode that was considered a "movie" wasn't the best of the season. Maybe Emmy voters just caught up on the previous six episodes on Netflix and considered that a fair tribute to the video streaming giant?)
After "Modern Family" was mostly shut out a year ago before winning the comedy series trophy, this seemed like the year where another show was finally poised to take its crown, whether it was "Veep" or Netflix's "Orange is the New Black." Instead, "Orange" was entirely ignored in the main show (Uzo Aduba won a guest acting award last week), "Veep" only got its usual award for Louis-Dreyfus, while "Modern Family" won its fifth consecutive comedy series award — tying "Frasier" for the most ever in this category. (No drama series has ever won five times.) Emmy voters just love "Modern Family."
The drama categories were potentially a place for new blood to shine, after HBO's gamble to submit "True Detective" there rather than in the theoretically easier movies/minis arena. Instead, it picked up only one award on the night, while "Breaking Bad" received a coronation in its final appearance, with repeat wins not only for drama series, but for Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston, along with the show's first writing win, for Moira Walley-Beckett's amazing script for "Ozymandias," the show's greatest episode and one of the best hours of dramatic television ever. "Ozymandias" proved so powerful, it carried Cranston over "True Detective" star Matthew McConaughey in what seemed like one of the night's more obvious victories — a victory so seemingly preordained that fellow movie star Julia Roberts was asked to present it.
The TV business has always had an inferiority complex when it comes to the movies. That was apparent again early in the Emmy telecast, when Jimmy Kimmel delivered a long (albeit quite funny) routine about how McConaughey is too famous and handsome to be working in television, and when Roberts (nominated for "The Normal Heart") was singled out at length in a tease before a commercial break. (Even Roberts seemed baffled that her fellow nominees in her category were being ignored.)
But as host Seth Meyers noted in his opening monologue, this is a great time in television, with exciting new series popping up seemingly every few weeks. The inferiority complex should have died a long time ago, and the fact that the Academy didn't rubber-stamp McConaughey — who, in fairness, was pretty mesmerizing himself as Rust Cohle — was striking.