Homelandbested drama contenders Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Mad Men and Game of Thrones for the Outstanding Drama series honor. The show's leading man Damian Lewis pleasantly surprised the room with an Outstanding Lead Actor win over tough competitors Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Michael C. Hall (Dexter). "I'm one of those pesky Brits, apologies," he said, acknowledging his fellow nominees and the Homeland cast members that he likes "to dine with."
Damian's Homeland co-star Claire Danes won for Outstanding Lead Actress. Besting Glenn Close (Damages), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Kathy Bates (Harry's Law) and Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), it was Claire's second-ever Emmy, and she thanked her "uniformly, shamelessly talented and committed" co-workers.
Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul was named Outstanding Supporting Actor, his second Emmy win, and thanked the show's writers "for not killing me off." He won over Breaking co-star Giancarlo Esposito, Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Jared Harris (Mad Men) and Brendan Coyle and Jim Carter of Downton Abbey.
Modern Family was named Outstanding Comedy Series for the third year in a row, out-laughing The Big Bang Theory, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Girls, 30 Rock and Veep. Modern star Eric Stonestreet was named Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy, and gave a shout out to his Modern co-star/fellow nominee Jesse Tyler Ferguson, saying, "There is no Cam without Mitch." Eric's fellow Modern stars Ed O'Neill and Ty Burrell were also nominated in the category alongside Max Greenfield (New Girl) and Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live).
Modern Family star Julie Bowen had her second consecutive Emmy win in the Outstanding Supporting Actress category calling her win "an embarrassment of riches," and made sure to jokingly reference her "nipple covers" used on the show at least three times. Julie gave props to her Modern co-star Sofia Vergara, also nominated in the category alongside Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), the late Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives), Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie) and Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live).
Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her third career Emmy as Selina Meyer in Veep over Lena Dunham (Girls), Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Tina Fey (30 Rock) and Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation). Jokingly reading Amy's acceptance speech instead of her own (and prompting the Parks star to approach the stage to swap speeches), Julia also deadpanned, "I don't think there's anything funny about me being vice president of the United States."
Fan favorite Jon Cryer won his second Outstanding Lead Actor Emmy as Alan Harper in Two and a Half Men over comedy competition Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Louis C.K. (Louis) and Alec Baldwin (30 Rock). "I'm in an amazing category with amazing people I admire," said an overjoyed Cryer, adding, "This is crazy!"
Other award highlights of the night included Jessica Lange's Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries win for American Horror Story; Kevin Costner nabbed the Lead Actor- Miniseries trophy for his turn in Hatfields & McCoys; Game Change won Outstanding Miniseries or Movie, while its star Julianne Moore won Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, saying with a smile, "I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down!"; The Amazing Race was named Outstanding Reality-Competition; The Daily Show with Jon Stewart earned its 10th consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Variety Series; Maggie Smith was named Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama for Downton Abbey; Hatfields & McCoys star Tom Berenger won Outstanding Supporting Actor - Miniseries; Kathy Bates and Jimmy Fallon were named as Best Guest Actress and Actor in a Comedy, while Jeremy Davies and Martha Plimpton were named as Best Guest Actor and Actress in a Drama; Tom Bergeron was named Outstanding Reality Host for Dancing with the Stars; and Louis C.K. won writing statuettes for Outstanding Comedy and Variety Special.
Stars fondly remembered In Memoriam included Andy Griffith, Mike Wallace, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Morgan, Dick Clark, Davy Jones, Richard Dawson, Sherman Hemsley, Phyllis Diller, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Farentino, Chad Everett, Heavy D, Don Cornelius, Ron Palillo, Robert Hegyes, Andy Rooney, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Tony Scott and Steve Jobs.
Host Jimmy Kimmel kept the proceedings light and moving swiftly, with his numerous skits (like Breaking Bad done in the style of The Andy Griffith Show and an In Memoriam tribute dedicated to himself) punctuating the night. Leave it to the people to speak their minds, however: Over 75% of Emmy watchers posting on social media did not find Kimmel's opening speech funny, according to AddThis, the world's largest sharing platform, who also pointed out that Sofia Vergara was most mentioned for best dressed of the night across Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, with Julie Bowen in second place, and Clive Owen and Jon Hamm named as the best-dressed men.