The Emmy Awards may be 10 hours long, but it still flies by every year in a cloud of diamonds and hairspray.
Usually, just enough happens to make you aware that you're not watching a repeat of last year's show. For instance, this year the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences brought in ABC talent Jimmy Kimmel to host the ceremony on his home network and...
Well, there were some new shows up for shiny trophies, too.
Here's what cut us some slack in the jaw department:
1. No Emmys for Old Men: Curses! Jon Hamm must be wondering who he has to screw, marry, cheat on, out-drink, out-think and out-sell to get himself a gosh darn Emmy Award. Not only was he passed over for a well-deserved lead actor Emmy for the fifth straight year, but Mad Men's epic winning streak in the Outstanding Drama Series came to a screeching halt at four, resulting in the AMC darling's epic 0-for-17 fail this year. An all-time record, that! (FYI, this was the first year Hamm was on the producer lineup, so top drama was his Emmy to lose, as well.) We can't exactly call Homeland's win an upset, considering the Showtime series won the Golden Globe and was easily the most talked about new show of the year. But even though Homeland had the benefit of mega-buzz and the Obama bump, Mad Men had an excellent season, perhaps its strongest yet. Maybe Hamm, a winner in the acting, charisma, looks and overall-life departments, is just a loser at the game of Emmy.
2. Damian Lewis Broke Bad: Everyone was so excited for Breaking Bad to come back. It did, crazy stuff happened...and Bryan Cranston failed to win his fourth lead actor Emmy in four tries for his more-expert-than-ever portrayal of dying chemistry teacher turned power-mad meth dealer Walter White. Instead, the British invasion came not from the direction of Downton Abbey, but from Homeland's Damian Lewis. Claire Danes' lead actress win was as locked up beforehand as could be, but Lewis didn't win the Golden Globe as his costar did, and this was his first Emmy nomination.
3. Abbey Left Unlocked: Did anyone else expect to hear the words "Downton Abbey" over and over again tonight? And maybe we would have if the British import via PBS' Masterpiece hadn't left the miniseries class behind for the upper echelons of dramatic society. An absentee Maggie Smith survived the trip, winning her second consecutive supporting actress Emmy, but isn't there a chance Hugh Bonneville and Julian Fellowes could have been sharing the spotlight if they hadn't been up against Homeland and...Homeland? Instead, Downton Abbey had three wins (two of 'em in technical categories) Same could be said for the reverse trickery of American Horror Story, which decided to be a miniseries instead of a drama. It might not have beat Homeland, but (minus Jessica Lange, who would have won in any genre) it couldn't really compete against HBO's Game Change and History's Hatfield & McCoys in the miniseries/movie categories, either.
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4. Jon Cryer—Winning: Count us among those who have always found Alan Harper, the Two and a Half Men sad sack played by Cryer, insufferably annoying. Then again, maybe we're the only ones. After a previous win in the supporting category, Cryer went and did what Charlie Sheen never managed in four tries—he won an Emmy for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. And not only did Cryer have to get through Alec Baldwin and Jim Parsons to do so, but he did it in his first time including himself in that category. Maybe Alan's got a little backbone after all. At the very least, he's got a shiny new trophy.
5. Kevin Costner Won an Acting Award!: Kevin Costner is a movie star, no doubt about it. And he's darn fine to look at, always has been. But despite nominations for Dances With Wolves, JFK and Tin Cup, the if-the-movie-fits-wear-it thesp has never won an Oscar or Golden Globe for acting (his Wolves wins were for directing and producing). And he had never even been nominated for an Emmy before this year! So it was cool to see Costner hoisting his trophy for Hatfields and McCoys tonight, the role of "Devil" Anse Hatfield—solemn, severe, grizzled yet handsome, nondescript twang—having fit him like a well-worn glove.