HBO repeated the rare feat it accomplished for the first time last year tonight at the Primetime Emmy Awards, winning both Best Drama Series with Game Of Thrones and Comedy Series with Veep. This is only the fourth time in Emmy history that two shows from the same network have won both categories, with NBC the last to pull it off in 1983 and 1984 with Cheers and Hill Street Blues. And as far as I can tell, this is the first time one network has won for best drama, comedy and late-night series in the same year since the late-night talk shows entered the variety Emmy category.
Emmys’ dominant player for more than a decade, HBO once again was the top network with 22 wins, but it faced a major challenge from FX, which shattered the previous basic cable record of eight wins with 18 Emmys this year — more than all other basic cable, broadcast and streaming networks combined. In the main categories awarded during tonight’s telecast, FX tied HBO for most trophies with six each.
Perpetual bridesmaid in the series field, FX has found great Emmy success in the limited series/miniseries arena with a genre it reintroduced to television, anthology drama series, with American Horror Story. The AHS follow-up, Fargo, netted FX an Emmy in the miniseries series category in 2014. And this year, AHS offshoot People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story dominated the main Emmy telecast with five wins, including Best Miniseries. HBO’s Game Of Thrones was again the overall winner with 12 Emmys, including nine from the Creative Emmys, followed by People V. OJ Simpson in second with nine overall.
It should be noted that FX owed some of its success with People V. OJ Simpson to sibling broadcast network Fox, which originally developed the project but eventually allowed FX to take over. Thus the frequent mentions of Fox chairman Dana Walden in the show’s acceptance speeches tonight. Fox topped the broadcast networks this year with six wins.
Still, FX again couldn’t break into the Best Drama Series field, coming closer than ever with The Americans, which landed noms in all three top drama categories but left tonight empty-handed.
Also not being able to convert its nominations in the top three comedy series categories was ABC’s hot sophomore Black-ish, tipped for a possible breakthrough Emmy year.
With best drama series, best comedy series and best comedy actor (Jeffrey Tambor) and actress (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) repeating from last year, it was the drama acting categories that opened up the door for new talent. Rami Malek of Mr. Robot delivered the first series Emmy for USA Network in his first shot, while Tatiana Maslany of BBC America’s Orphan Black finally landed the award that had eluded her, also giving her network a first major series Emmy win.
For both Maslany and Bloodline‘s Ben Mendelsohn, their first Emmy trophies on their second nominations are bittersweet as they came just after announcements that both series will be ending after one more season.
Two shows that already wrapped their runs — Comedy Central’s Key & Peele and PBS’ Downton Abbey, got a nice sendoff. Key & Peele, which helped revive sketch comedy in primetime, won best sketch comedy series, while Downton Abbey, which made British costume dramas hip again, was recognized one last time for standout Maggie Smith.
Broadcast TV was again not a real factor. It was able to hold onto the acting categories from last year, with Saturday Night Live‘s Kate McKinnon succeeding Mom‘s Allison Janney in the supporting actress in a comedy series race, and American Crime‘s Regina King repeating as supporting actress in a movie or miniseries. McKinnon’s win was a surprise; she became the first SNL cast member to win a series acting Emmy.
But, despite buzzy up-and-comers James Corden and Jimmy Fallon, the variety talk series category remained a cable domain, with HBO’s Last Week Tonight, hosted by The Daily Show alum John Oliver, landing its first Emmy to position itself as a successor to Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and The Colbert Report which had dominated the category for more than a decade.
The longform categories went the predictable route with The People V. O.J. Simpson sweeping most of the categories, with a dash of shocker when British import Sherlock upsetting front-runner All The Way.