There was no business like meth business at the 66th Emmy awards, as Breaking Bad, the series about a chemistry teacher turned meth dealer, took home five major Emmys at the ceremony in Los Angeles Monday night, including its second consecutive win for Outstanding Drama Series.
Bryan Cranston picked up his fifth Emmy for his portrayal of Walter White, the unlikely New Mexico drug kingpin. He previously won that honor in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Cranston, a little-known character actor when the series started, has become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand stars.
There had been a lot of buzz that Matthew McConaughey would win the Best Actor Award for his performance in the HBO series True Detective. So much so that Cranston joked as he accepted his Emmy, “Even I thought about voting for Matthew.”
Cranston’s co-stars were also winners. Anna Gunn received her second consecutive Outstanding Supporting Actress for her portrayal of White’s long-suffering wife, while Aaron Paul won his third Outstanding Supporting Actor Emmy for his performance as Jesse Pinkman, an underachieving former student of White’s who becomes his methcooking partner.
This dark show, which gradually went from an oddity in AMC’s 2008 lineup to the most talked-about show on television, also won an Emmy for Best Writing for Moira Walley-Beckett.
The Emmys this year were for the show’s final season, a season split into two halves, one of which aired in 2012 and the last part of which was shown in the summer and fall of 2013.
“Thank you so much for this wonderful farewell to our show,” said series creator Vince Gilligan as he accepted the award for Outstanding Drama Series.
In the only major category that Breaking Bad did not win, Outstanding Dramatic Actress, Julianna Margulies picked up her second win (her first was in 2010) for her portrayal of a political spouse who is reborn after her husband’s disgrace on The Good Wife. She had previously won in the Supporting Actress category for ER in 1995.
Mad Men, which presented half of its final season this year and won Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series in 2008-2011, left empty-handed. The actors on the show, including the star, Jon Hamm, have yet to win an Emmy.
Homeland, the adaptation of the Israeli series Hatufim, which won major awards in 2012 and 2013, also did not win anything this year.
But the comedy categories were dominated by familiar names and faces.
Modern Family, the series about three generations of a dysfunctional family, won its fifth consecutive Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy, as well as Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Ty Burrell and one for Gail Mancuso for directing.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her third consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Veep (she has also won Emmys for The New Adventures of Old Christine and Seinfeld).
Jim Parsons took home his fourth Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of Sheldon Cooper, whose name has become synonymous with the word “geek,” on The Big Bang Theory.
Allison Janney won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Mom, as well as Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Masters of Sex.
This Outstanding Guest category is a strange one, functioning essentially as a second Supporting Actor category, since most of those nominated are series regulars. Uzu Aduba won Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Crazy Eyes on the critically acclaimed Orange Is the New Black, which also won awards for editing and casting.
Many commentators thought Orange was held back because it was categorized as a comedy rather than a drama, when it fits into both categories. It also may have won fewer awards because voters are put off by its originality in dealing with such subjects as class, race and lesbianism.
The Outstanding Movie or Miniseries category was dominated by Sherlock: His Last Vow, which won Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Movie or Miniseries (Benedict Cumberbatch), Outstanding Supporting Actor (Martin Freeman), as well as awards for music, cinematography and editing.
Best Actress Oscar winners Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange received Emmys for Supporting and Lead Actress, respectively, for American Horror Story.
In another sign that the divisions between the movie and television industries are more fluid than ever, Fargo, the miniseries produced by the Coen brothers and based on their own 1995 movie, won Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries or Movie.
The Normal Heart, based on the play by Larry Kramer about the early days of the AIDS crisis, won the award for Outstanding Television Movie.
Sherlock: The Final Vow also won a writing award.