Los Angeles—AMC’s Breaking Bad won its second straight award for best drama and ABC’s Modern Family took home its fifth consecutive best comedy series award Monday at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.
Breaking Bad won five awards, the most of the night, raising its total number of 2014 Emmys to six—second behind the seven won by PBS miniseries Sherlock: His Last Vow.
Bryan Cranston, who won three straight best drama actor Emmys from 2008 to 2010 for his role as Walter White on Breaking Bad, took home his fourth for the show’s final season. “Even I thought about voting for Matthew,” Cranston said at the beginning of his acceptance speech, referencing True Detective’s Matthew McConaughey. Cranston— now tied with NYPD Blue’s Dennis Franz for most wins in the category—thanked series creator Vince Gilligan, as well as his co-stars Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn, who won for best supporting drama actor and best supporting drama actress, respectively. Breaking Bad‘s Moira Walley-Beckett won for best writing in a drama series.
Julianna Margulies won for best drama actress for The Good Wife—her third Emmy and her second for the CBS series, for which she last won in 2011. Margulies appeared to reference The Good Wife’s lack of nomination for best drama series in her acceptance speech. “Truly this belongs to Robert and Michelle King,” she said of the show’s creators, adding, “and all our writers, who never cease to amaze me with 22 episodes a year.” She also thanked her co-star Josh Charles, whose character was killed this season after Charles asked to be written off the show. “Josh Charles, I miss you every day. What were you thinking?”
Jim Parsons won the award for lead actor in a comedy series—his fourth win for his work on CBS’ The Big Bang Theory. The actor thanked his late father, Mickey, from the stage.
“He encouraged me to be an actor,” Parsons said. “He never discouraged me.”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her third consecutive best lead actress in a comedy series award for HBO’s Veep. In a call-back to a joke earlier in the show about the two sharing a kissing scene on Seinfeld, Louis-Dreyfus made out furiously with Breaking Bad actor, and fellow winner, Bryan Cranston on her way to the stage.
“Yeah, he was on Seinfeld,” Louis-Dreyfus joked as she accepted her award. A previous winner for NBC’s Seinfeld and CBS’ The New Adventures of Old Christine, Louis-Dreyfuss thanked HBO. “I’ve worked in a lot of places in this town, and it’s absolutely my favorite place I’ve ever worked.”
Louis C.K. won for outstanding writing in a comedy series for FX’s Louie—his sixth Emmy win. Allison Janney took the award for best supporting actress in a comedy series for CBS’ Mom. Janney’s win followed her victory Aug. 16 at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards for best supporting actress in a drama for Showtime’s Masters of Sex.
Modern Family won three awards total, including a best supporting actor in a comedy trophy for Ty Burrell, who previously won in the same category in 2011. The show is now tied with Frasier for the most consecutive comedy-series wins. Speaking to reporters backstage, executive producer Steve Levitan said he was honored for Modern Family to be considered with “not only our fellow nominees, but a show like Frasier, which was so wonderful, and some of us even worked on the show. So it’s really a wonderful experience.”
FX’s Fargo won for best miniseries after being shut out in the acting categories. Fargo was the most nominated show in the miniseries or movie field with 18 nods.
Backstage, executive producer and former NBC president Warren Littlefield said, “I have to tell you, this is the best moment of my life.”
HBO's The Normal Heart, which also failed to produce an acting award, won for best movie. Executive producer Ryan Murphy thanked the author of the play on which the film was based. “We’re only here because of one person, and that’s Mister Larry Kramer.”
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman swept the movie or miniseries male-actor categories for PBS’ Sherlock: His Last Vow, with Cumberbatch winning for best lead actor and Freeman winning for supporting. Sherlock’s Colin Bucksey won for best miniseries or movie writing, giving the show a total of three awards on the night.
Kathy Bates of FX’s American Horror Story: Coven won for best supporting actress—her second career win. Fellow cast member Jessica Lange won for best lead actress, her third win in the category and second of the night for American Horror Story.
The Colbert Report won its second consecutive award for best variety series. In a gag in which host Stephen Colbert whispered his acceptance speech into the ear of Jimmy Fallon, who then repeated it into the microphone, the Tonight Show host said “bullshit” on live TV, an apparent accident. Colbert then appeared to apologize for the slip, saying “I’m sorry for that, for some reason.”
Host Seth Meyers kicked the ceremony off at L.A. Live with a joke about the Emmys taking place on a Monday night for the first time since 1976.
“This year, we’re doing the Emmys on a Monday night in August, which if I understand television, means that this show is about to get canceled,” Meyers said.
In reality, the show was moved to Monday to accommodate NBC’s Sunday Night Football. But Sunday night did feature MTV’s Video Music Awards. Meyers joked about the irony of MTV, a network that no longer features much in the way of music programming, mounting an awards show for music videos. “That’s like network TV holding an awards show and giving all the awards to cable and Netflix.”
After winning seven awards at the Creative Arts Emmys, Netflix was shut out Monday night—and contrary to Meyers’ joke, broadcasters performed solidly at the Emmys this year. Though HBO led all networks with 19 awards, the four next winningest networks—CBS (11), PBS (11), NBC (10) and ABC (8)—were all broadcasters.
Billy Crystal paid tribute to the late Robin Williams at the end of the traditional in-memoriam montage. “He made us laugh, hard,” Crystal said, motioning to a photo of Williams on a screen above the stage, "Robin Williams— what a concept." Crystal went on to talk about Williams’ famous energy as a performer. “I used to think that if I could just put a saddle on him and stay on for eight seconds, I’d be good.”