The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards were held on the 25th of August, with a large number of repeat winners and sentimental favourites taking home the trophies in their respective categories. Considered the biggest night in the awards calendar for television and making up one of the holy grail of talent awards known as the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony), it naturally brought out the big guns in full force.
Hosted this year by Seth Meyers, the 2014 edition saw a long list of new and exciting nominees, but with many established favourites ending or nearing their end, most of the awards were won by the old guard. A few of the Acting categories had already been announced at the Creative Arts Emmys held earlier in the month, a show dedicated to rewarding the technical aspect of primetime television.
Jimmy Fallon had won Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Saturday Night Live and Uzo Aduba won Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Orange is the New Black. (Before anyone comments about how Orange is the New Black is not, strictly, comedy, it should be pointed out that the shows categorise themselves in the Emmys by submitting nominations for the relevant awards.)
Joe Morton (Scandal) and Allison Janney (Masters of Sex) won for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, respectively, while Harry Shearer (The Simpsons) won for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance. Most of the technical wins, including for Costume and Art Direction went to Game of Thrones, unsurprising given its remarkable production value.
With Game of Thrones and Orange is the New Black – both heavily nominated for the main broadcast later – having done well at the Creative Arts section, it was expected they would dominate on the 25th as well. Sadly, that was not to be, with both shows going home empty handed. Particularly sad was the latter’s loss in the Outstanding Comedy Series category, won by perennial favourite Modern Family. Perhaps it was a reflection of how it was a mis-categorisation, something that should not happen next year.
Breaking Bad was the biggest winner of the night, the show’s final season taking home Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (Episode: “Ozymandias”) despite some strong competition. Bryan Cranston took home the trophy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series while Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn won for Outstanding Supporting Actor/Actress in a Drama Series.
The other Lead Acting awards were won by Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) for Comedy, Julianna Marguiles (The Good Wife) for Drama, and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock: “His Last Vow”) and Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Coven) for Miniseries or Movie.
Sherlock was the biggest British winner of the night, with two other trophies for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special going to Steven Moffat and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie going to Martin Freeman, both for “His Last Vow”. Unfortunately, despite a large contingent of British talent receiving nominations, these were the only home-grown winners this year.
Ty Burrell (Modern Family) and Allison Janney (Mom) took home the Supporting Acting trophies for Comedy, Janney’s win making her the only individual to win two awards this year, to go alongside her Creative Arts win earlier. Kathy Bates (American Horror Story: Coven) won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.
The Normal Heart, which had been a heavy favourite for the Miniseries or Movie Acting categories, had to contend with just winning Outstanding Television Movie. It was a disappointing night for such a powerful film, with some commentators pointing out that the lack of campaigning might have made it slip up against the more visible Sherlock and American Horror Story: Coven.
This is made all the more depressing by the fact that the two shows that won will have more chances due to upcoming seasons, but the cinematic nature of The Normal Heart meant this was its only shot. Perhaps it is time for the Emmys to bring back separate acting categories for Miniseries and Movies, especially as the Series awards are different – the Outstanding Miniseries win going to Fargo.
The Colbert Report took home its second consecutive win for Outstanding Variety Series. The Amazing Race, meanwhile, broke its own astonishing record for winning its tenth Outstanding Reality-Competition Program award, having been nominated all 12 years of the category’s existence.
The Directing awards went to Gail Mancuso (Modern Family: “Las Vegas”) for Comedy, Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective: “Who Goes There”) for Drama, Glenn Weiss (76th Tony Awards) for Variety Special, and Colin Bucksey (Fargo: “Buridan’s Ass”) for Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special. Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series was won by Louis C. K. (Louis: “So Did the Fat Lady”) and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special was won by Sarah Silverman (Sarah Silverman: We are Miracles).
The focus of the evening remained on Breaking Bad of course, but it did raise questions about whether it has set a precedent for future editions where shows on their last season are guaranteed to sweep their categories. Breaking Bad was popular enough for no one to mind, but concerns have already been raised about Mad Men achieving something similar next year over better shows like House of Cards and Game of Thrones.
Another point of contention was the multiple losses for Orange is the New Black and The Normal Heart, prompting calls for rethinking categories. It remains to be seen whether Orange is the New Black will be submitted for Drama next year, but the proposed acting split for Miniseries and Movies has not been taken up by the organisers, which is a real shame.
Which is not to say there were no deserving winners this year. For all the debates and discussions raised, the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards saw worthy individuals walk away with their trophies, in what has been the final major awards ceremony of the year.