It was a landslide the likes of which we haven’t seen in ages, if not ever, with one network, HBO, winning best drama series (Game Of Thrones), best comedy series (Veep), best miniseries (Olive Kitteridge) and best movie (Bessie) in the same year. At the main telecast, HBO shows won 14 times, more than all other networks combined. Overall, the pay cable network won 43 Emmys this year, the most ever in its history and nearly four times more than the network that finished as No. 2, NBC (12). With dozens of networks and streaming services offering original programming today, HBO came only a trophy shy of the record for most wins for a network in year, posted by CBS in 1974 (44) when there were only three nets.
History was made tonight with How To Get Away With Murder‘s Viola Davis becoming the first black woman to win best actress in a drama series on a night that saw three black actresses triumph: Davis, Orange Is the New Black‘s Uzo Aduba and American Crime‘s Regina King. After several nominations through the years, Transparent‘s Jeffrey Tambor became the first actor to win an Emmy for playing a transgender character. And Game Of Thrones became the first fantasy drama to land the best drama series trophy.
This was the first time HBO has won both best drama and best comedy series in the same year, and HBO became the first network to accomplish that since NBC did it in 2002 with The West Wing and Friends. With their wins, GOT and Veep join HBO’s seminal series The Sopranos and Sex and the City, which until tonight had been the network’s only shows to win the top series categories. Veep became only the second non-broadcast comedy ever after Sex and the City to land the top award.
Meanwhile, the broadcast networks, which carry the Emmy broadcast, suffered yet another setback, for the first time surrendering both the best drama and best comedy series categories. The only two broadcast wins in the series categories came for Davis and repeat best supporting actress in a comedy series Allison Janney (Mom).
The Emmys bid goodbye to two of its biggest winners of the last decade — Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and AMC’s Mad Men — by recognizing both with final trophies.
It was a streaky night, with a handful of programs winning the majority of the categories. The 21 trophies were divided among seven shows, with five programs winning a total of 19.
Maybe it was the Emmy rule changes that expanded the pool of voters in the best drama and series category, but Game Of Thrones — a big crowd-pleaser that has been the subject of controversies for its depiction of rape in the fantasy genre that had been frown upon by the TV Academy — triumphed tonight. And it did it in a convincing fashion — backing up the best drama win with best writing, directing and best supporting actor, Peter Dinklage.
GOT not only broke The West Wing‘s record of 9 Emmys in a single year, it shattered it with a haul of 12 trophies, matching the tally of the network with most wins after HBO, NBC. It was a Lord Of The Rings moment for GOT, following in the footsteps of the blockbuster fantasy movie franchise, which also scored a rare triumph at the Oscars.
GOT‘s win denied AMC’s Mad Men one final best drama series Emmy. But the 1960s drama still got a Hollywood ending, with a Cinderella story for its star Jon Hamm. On his eighth consecutive (and final) nomination, Hamm landed the trophy, leaping to the stage with a big sigh of relief. This was the first (and only) Emmy for Mad Men since 2011.
It was a bitter-sweet triumph for HBO’s Veep, which won its first best comedy Emmy for the final season with creator Armando Iannucci at the helm. Iannucci was a double winner tonight, also scoring for co-writing the “Election Night” episodes. The other two Emmys went to star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, her fourth consecutive win for the show, and co-star Tony Hale, his second.
Veep‘s win ended the five-year winning streak of Modern Family in the best comedy series category. The hit ABC comedy was left without a trophy on the main telecast for the first time since its launch. (It won for sound mixing at the Creative Arts Awards last week.)
Amazon made a strong Emmy entry with five trophies, all for its groundbreaking comedy Transparent, including for creator Jill Soloway (directing) and star Tambor. Throughout the night, Transparent ran neck and neck with Veep until Veep pulled ahead in the final stretch. The two shows between them won every single comedy Emmy awarded on the main telecast.
While Transparent did well, the Emmys were not very welcoming to freshman shows this year. Drama Better Call Saul and comedy Unbreakable Killy Schmidt both were shut out after scoring an impressive number of nominations.
In a year marked by the end of three of the most influential late-night shows of the pact decade and longer — CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report — as well as the meteoric rise of HBO’s Last Week With John Oliver, it was The Daily Show that took all the Emmy glory. After being left out of the main variety categories for the last two years following its record 10-year winning streak in the best variety series category, Daily Show swept all three variety series categories.
Trainwreck writer and star Amy Schumer continued her breakthrough year with the inaugural best variety sketch Emmy for her hit Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer, which helped bring sketch comedy back to primetime.
The longform categories were dominated by HBO’s Olive Kitteridge, which was second only to GOT with a total of eight Emmys, six won tonight.
And The Voice is giving The Amazing Race a fight, wrestling the best reality competition series away from the CBS stalwart for a second time. The NBC singing competition now has become only the second multiple winner in the category (with two trophies), joining Race and its tally of 10 Emmys.
Given Race’s track record, The Voice‘s win still constitutes an upset. Other surprises tonight include the best supporting nods for GOT‘s Peter Dinklage over Better Call Saul’s Jonathan Banks and American Crime Story‘s Regina King over American Horror Story: Freak Show‘s Sarah Paulson and Kathy Bates. Freak Show did not score a win on the main telecast for the first time in the franchise’s history.