Updated 8/26 at 8:20am PT.
Good times, Bad's time
|2||Breaking Bad (AMC)||6|
|3||Saturday Night Live (NBC)||5|
|True Detective (HBO)||5|
|5||American Horror Story (FX)||4|
|Game of Thrones (HBO)||4|
Winners of the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced Monday night in Los Angeles in a ceremony televised live on NBC and hosted by Seth Meyers. And there were upsets aplenty, with the Academy opting in numerous instances to hand out another award to a previous winner rather than honor a more heavily favored newcomer.
The first Monday Emmy broadcast in nearly 40 years managed to finish on time—certainly one of the year's biggest upsets—and also managed to receive solid, if unspectacular, reviews from critics. (More on that in a moment.) The ceremony did an even better job of delighting fans of Breaking Bad, as the final season of that massively acclaimed drama collected more trophies (five) than any other show during the broadcast, including the Emmy for the year's best drama series.
Including last week's creative arts Emmys, however, it was British import Sherlock that was this year's biggest honoree, with seven total Emmys (ahead of Bad's six, including one win last week). That recurring program (classified as a TV movie for Emmy purposes) was an upset winner in multiple categories this year. HBO was the most honored network, with 19 total awards, besting CBS and PBS, which tied for second with 11 Emmys this year. Expected to land at least one major award (if not more), upstart Netflix went home empty-handed on the evening, though the streaming service did collect seven trophies last weekend.
In a moment, we'll find out what TV critics thought of Meyers and this year's Emmy telecast as a whole, and we'll see which experts and users were the most accurate in their predictions this year. First, here is a quick recap of the 2014 Emmy Award winners in each of the major categories (including a few of the creative arts winners named in a separate ceremony last weekend). A complete list of winners in every category can be found at the official Emmy website.
Drama Winners - 66th Primetime Emmy Awards
|Outstanding Drama Series||Breaking Bad (AMC)|
|Lead Actor||Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad (AMC)|
|Lead Actress||Julianna Margulies The Good Wife (CBS)|
|Supporting Actor||Aaron Paul Breaking Bad (AMC)|
|Supporting Actress||Anna Gunn Breaking Bad (AMC)|
|Guest Actor||Joe Morton Scandal (ABC)|
|Guest Actress||Allison Janney Masters of Sex (Showtime)|
|Writing||Moira Walley-Beckett Breaking Bad (AMC), "Ozymandias"|
|Directing||Cary Joji Fukunaga True Detective (HBO), "Who Goes There"|
Breaking Bad, the overwhelming favorite to take top drama honors in its acclaimed final season, exceed expectations by winning not only that award but also three of the four top acting categories. While some of that was expected—Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn were the favorites heading into the evening—Bryan Cranston's win was more unexpected, as most experts had picked True Detective's Matthew McConaughey to complete a rare Oscar/Emmy/Golden Globe trifecta in the same year. The other lead acting winner, The Good Wife's Julianna Margulies, was favored to win, though it was a much closer race than the other categories.
Comedy Winners - 66th Primetime Emmy Awards
|Outstanding Comedy Series||Modern Family (ABC)|
|Lead Actor||Jim Parsons The Big Bang Theory (CBS)|
|Lead Actress||Julia Louis-Dreyfus Veep (HBO)|
|Supporting Actor||Ty Burrell Modern Family (ABC)|
|Supporting Actress||Allison Janney Mom (CBS)|
|Guest Actor||Jimmy Fallon Saturday Night Live (NBC)|
|Guest Actress||Uzo Aduba Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)|
|Writing||Louis C.K. Louie (FX), "So Did the Fat Lady"|
|Directing||Gail Mancuso Modern Family (ABC), "Vegas"|
Here is where many of the evening's surprises fell. Modern Family received fewer Emmy nominations than it had in its previous four seasons, leading most experts to predict that the Academy had moved on and would not be handing out any more trophies to that ABC hit, which had received the top comedy trophy in each of the four previous years. Of course, that conventional wisdom proved to be incorrect, as the comedy took home three trophies on the evening (including its fifth straight for best comedy), all of them unexpected. Experts widely predicted Netflix's Orange Is the New Black to win top comedy honors (as well as winning in the directing category), while either Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Andre Braugher or a repeating Tony Hale (Veep) were expected to win the trophy for lead actor. The other acting categories, however, went according to plan, as did Louis C.K.'s win for his Louie script.
Movie/Miniseries Winners - 66th Primetime Emmy Awards
|Outstanding Miniseries||Fargo (FX)|
|Outstanding Made for Television Movie||The Normal Heart (HBO)|
|Lead Actor||Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock (PBS), "His Last Vow"|
|Lead Actress||Jessica Lange American Horror Story: Coven (FX)|
|Supporting Actor||Martin Freeman Sherlock (PBS), "His Last Vow"|
|Supporting Actress||Kathy Bates American Horror Story: Coven (FX)|
|Writing||Steven Moffat Sherlock (PBS), "His Last Vow"|
|Directing||Colin Bucksey Fargo (FX), "Buridan's Ass"|
The movie/miniseries categories were also filled with upset victories on Monday night—so much so that at one point it seemed like the evening's two biggest sure things (Fargo for best miniseries and The Normal Heart for top TV movie) would succumb to Sherlock/American Horror Story fever. (It didn't happen; both won as expected.) The latter two programs, however, split the acting categories, and all four wins were surprises. Most experts had predicted Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo), Cicely Tyson (The Trip to Bountiful), Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart), and Allison Tolman (Fargo) to go home with Emmys. (Bomer was a near-unanimous pick.) In fact, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and Kathy Bates were such surprises that not a single expert (among the 40 we surveyed) had picked them to win. Metacritic users, it turns out, were much sharper, as they as a group had Jessica Lange and Freeman winning (with Cumberbatch and Bates also receiving a large percentage of user votes).
Additional Winners - 66th Primetime Emmy Awards
|Reality Competition||The Amazing Race (CBS)|
|Reality Program - Structured||Shark Tank (ABC)|
|Reality Program - Unstructured||Deadliest Catch (Discovery)|
|Reality Host||Jane Lynch Hollywood Game Night (NBC)|
|Variety Series||The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)|
|Writing for a Variety Series||The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)|
|Variety Special||AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Mel Brooks (TNT)|
|Writing for a Variety Special||Sarah Silverman Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles (HBO)|
|Animated Program||Bob's Burgers (Fox)|
|Childrens Program||One Last Hug: Three Days at Grief Camp (HBO)|
|Documentary Series||American Masters (PBS)
Years of Living Dangerously (Showtime)
|Documentary Film||Life According to Sam (HBO)|
|Documentary Special||American Experience: JFK (PBS)|
|Informational Series or Special||Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (CNN)
|Special Class Program||67th Annual Tony Awards (CBS)|
|Special Class Short-Format Live-Action Program||Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: President Barack Obama (FunnyOrDie.com)|
Though The Amazing Race had won the reality competition category nine times previously, its 10th victory was a bit of an upset, as most experts had picked NBC's The Voice to win this year.
How accurate were the predictions?
Last week, we gathered Emmy predictions from 40 industry experts (including TV critics). Let's just say they should stick to their day jobs. Actually, that's a bit too harsh, as there was a bit of an improvement compared to last year. While 2013's top prognosticator had just a 55% accuracy rate, this year's most accurate Emmy forecaster—USA Today critic Robert Bianco—had 14 of 24 picks correct, for a 58% success rate. Four other experts had 13 correct picks, including two editors (Tom O'Neil and Paul Sheehan) of the Gold Derby awards tracking site, plus NPR's Ken Tucker and TheWrap's Steve Pond. Only 14 of the 40 experts surveyed were correct more than 50% of the time.
We also asked Metacritic users to offer their Emmy predictions this summer, and over 3,200 of them did just that. Our users did not do very well as a whole, but they, too, performed better than they did last year. In 2013, the user consensus was correct just 32% of the time; this year, they improved to 42%. And the most accurate users performed better than the top experts. A total of 21 users bested Bianco's accuracy, with the top user (who did not provide a name) correctly guessing 18 of the 24 categories.
How was the telecast?
First-time host Meyers presided over a briskly paced evening that featured a musical performance by "Weird Al" Yankovic (the evening's only production number), a filmed segment with Billy Eichner, and a tribute to the late Robin Williams by his friend and colleague, Billy Crystal. Critics actually didn't mind the telecast so much, though it came accross as safe rather than interesting; their main complaints were in the Academy's choice of winners.
Below is a sampling of the critics' responses to the broadcast; click on any publication name to read the full review.
There's something to be said for delivering exactly what people expect. ... For a host, nastiness becomes tiresome, which is why Meyers was wise to avoid it. That choice may not have made Meyers the most exciting host, but he was good-natured and efficient.
The Hollywood Reporter
In one hell of a weird, head-scratching awards show, Meyers was very good, the actual telecast held it together for most of the night and Breaking Bad got the send-off it so richly deserved. But there was a lot of stink in the air as well. ... The show itself was thankfully light on filler, the curse that bloats and ruins most awards shows and, especially the Emmys in years past. ... But director Glenn Weiss, who earlier won his own Emmy for directing the Tony Awards, also misjudged whom to play off in the early and middle stages, which resulted in the unfortunate rushing off of winners at the end.
Host Seth Meyers did better post-monologue than he did during the opening, particularly as he got to interact with "SNL" pals like Amy Poehler and Andy Samberg, but he was genial throughout and worked quickly. In general, the show was often more fun as a television show than as a celebration of the most exciting work on television.
NBC's latest use of the Emmys to showcase a latenight (or really, later-night) host worked out reasonably well. Meyers adopted a minimalist approach to open the show, delivering a straight stand-up routine aimed at the TV-literate crowd – both in the room and at home – that resembled some of the better Oscar intros of years past. Going with a monologue not only played to the host's strengths but reflected a sense TV has indeed grown up, without requiring inordinate bells and whistles to set the ball rolling.
Sure, it's August and a Monday. ... You can understand why the energy level might have been a little low. The show was pleasant enough, and cringe-free, with one exception. A bit that revolved around objectifying Sofia Vergara didn't work, because come on, Emmys: Objectification is the VMAs' thing.
It was uneven as usual. ... Meyers fulfilled the major demand of an awards show host by mostly staying out of the way, and some of the production ideas were more inspired (Meyers and Billy Eichner in a hilarious "Emmy On the Street" sketch) than others ("Weird" Al Yankovic's embarrassing lyrics to dramatic main-title themes).
Sydney Morning Herald
From the moment he took the stage, rookie Emmy Awards host Seth Meyers was all about playing it safe. It may not be the bravest plan for a comedian who lands one of the most coveted hosting gigs in the world, but it was definitely a shrewd plan.
New York Daily News
It took Golden Globes host Amy Poehler maybe half a second to trump Emmy host Seth Meyer's entire eight-minute monologue — which opened the award show as if it were on C-Span not NBC.
The Daily Beast
Seth Meyers's opening monologue went from zero to hilarious very fast. But when we say zero, we mean zero. Like really unfunny. ... The thing that Seth Meyers did that was very tricky in his monologue is that he wasn't mean. He did not turn the Emmys opening into a roast, which is something that we've become a bit accustomed over the years. That might explain why his schtick—sort of a bemused truth-telling about the industry that bordered on way too insider-y—didn't seem to go over as riotously as your typical Ricky Gervais-Seth MacFarlane-Jimmy Kimmel brand roasting. But it was smart.
By adopting the same play-it-safe approach he used as the host ofSaturday Night Live's "Weekend Update," Meyers went for chuckles, not guffaws, and succeeded in being inoffensive — but also, in the process, more like a warm-up act than the main attraction.
Meyers kept things moving, although, as usual, too many major awards were held until the closing minutes.
The New York Times
Mr. Meyers was charming, but he didn't take many risks, and overall, the ceremony was a brisk, rather tame event.
Despite an opening with jokes at the expense of the Emmys, the 2014 Emmy telecast proved to be a mostly well-paced, comedy-fueled celebration of television. ... Still, the major downside to the telecast was … the winners. There were too many repeat winners, too few surprises.
Los Angeles Times
[The] opening monologue was funny, fresh and smart, chock-full of good jokes and insight into the wonderful roiling madness that is television today.
Meyers ... was pretty okay, even if he had a mild case of the "first time hosting a major awards show" jitters. Nobody's going to list him as one of the great Emmy hosts of all time — a list that pretty much consists solely of Ellen DeGeneres's work in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — but he also didn't totally embarrass himself.
The problem with his hosting performance had less to do with his material, and more to do with his dry and stiff delivery. He didn't quite connect with the audience, never owned the room.
Meyers's hosting skills were, as one would expect, much like his work so far as host of NBC's "Late Night" — reliable but not wild, funny but not hilarious.
The predictable lethargy, the inevitable inertia of the Emmys and the parade of familiar winners obscured what was a very professional and adeptly delivered performance from Seth Meyers. Meyers is not a huge personality, and his opening monologue was a little understated. But many of the bits that followed were sharp. ... But all of this—accomplished professionalism from accomplished professionals!—only contributes to the show's overall air of boring boring boringness. Let there be disaster! Let there be controversy! Let there be other winners we can scoff at as endlessly as Modern Family!
Some of the stage business was above average ... But boy, when it fell flat, it fell really flat.
What do you think?
Were you happy with this year's winners? What did you think of the broadcast, and of Meyers as host? Let us know in the comments section below.