Homeland, Game Change, and Modern Family win big—and Mad Men loses for the first time. Shannon Donnelly on television’s biggest night, from the snubs (Amy Poehler) to the shock wins (Jon Cryer, Damian Lewis).
Lena Dunham Has Her Cake (Naked)
If the entirety of the Emmys were as pithy and ribald as the opening sketch, this would have been an awards show for the ages. Alas, what followed didn’t quite measure up, but we’ll always have naked Lena Dunham eating cake, a funny potshot at 2008’s ill-conceived reality-show host debacle, and some of the funniest women on TV smacking the ever-loving snot out of host Jimmy Kimmel.
Breaking Bad Goes Old School
Critical darling Breaking Bad might not have gotten much Emmy love, with only Aaron Paul winning Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, but the show still managed to provide one of the funnier moments of the night in a pre-cable reimagining that saw Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul popping a cap in Don Knotts.
Bowen Turns the High Beams Off for Her Win
“My job really amounts to me falling down and making faces while wearing lipstick and nipple covers,” said Modern Family’s Julie Bowen, who won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She went on to thank the show’s writers, editors, cast, and, yes, nipple covers. Might this be the first time an actress has thanked “nipple covers” in an acceptance speech? Perhaps, though there are certainly quite a few other actresses who owe thanks to those little marvels of technology. (And still more actresses who could benefit from a close acquaintance with them.)
Don’t Cryer Foul on This One
In what was perhaps the night’s biggest upset, Jon Cryer—who got bumped up from supporting to lead actor in the wake of Charlie Sheen leaving Two and a Half Men—beat out presumed frontrunners Louis C.K. and Jim Parsons in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category. A clearly baffled Cryer took the stage saying, “Don’t panic, people. Something has clearly gone terribly wrong. I didn’t actually win this.”
Did Poehler Win? Knope.
Parks and Recreation fans have good reason to be annoyed after watching the effervescent Amy Poehler get passed over yet again for an Emmy, but Knope loyalists can take some comfort in the gracious way Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) shared her spotlight with Poehler. And viewers with no vested interest in which witty woman won can at least enjoy one of the most entertaining moments of the night.
And Now for Something Completely Awkward ...
Tracy Morgan can usually be counted on to inject some off-the-wall humor into even the dullest of proceedings, but this bit—where host Jimmy Kimmel tried to fake out Twitter by spoofing a Tracy Morgan fainting spell—was about as animated as Morgan was for the 10 minutes that followed. Just ... no.
‘We Were Told We Get a Free Sandwich After 10’
Are 10 consecutive Daily Show wins for Outstanding Variety Series a bit excessive? Maybe. But you can’t watch the hilarious Stewart-Colbert-Fallon prespeech scuffle or listen to Jon Stewart’s fantastic speech and seriously say the show hasn’t earned every award that has come its way—even if it shows, as Stewart put it, “how predictable these f--king things are.”
Julianne Wins? You Betcha!
“I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs-down,” Julianne Moore said upon winning Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Game Change. Her win was preceded by a win for Game Change’s writer, Danny Strong, who will always be Jonathan from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and Doyle from Gilmore Girls!) to us. The Palin send-up later went on to win Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special and Outstanding Miniseries or TV Movie.
And the Winner Is ... Not Mad Men!
For the first time since it hit the airwaves, Mad Men did not win the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. The win instead went to freshman series Homeland, which also won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Claire Danes) and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Damian Lewis).
Modern Family Wins the Night
Emmy voters, having apparently exhausted their not-voting-on-autopilot reserves with Homeland, gave Modern Family its third consecutive win for Outstanding Comedy Series. We love Modern Family, but we also love not going into every Emmys telecast already knowing a solid two thirds of the winners based on who won the previous year.