There were few if any surprises at the Emmys on Monday night. Breaking Bad cleaned up, as expected, and the actors and shows who have dominated in the past continued to dominate this year (yes, Jim Parsons is funny on The Big Bang Theory, but can we give that award out to someone else please?) With few highs and few lows, it might be hard to remember what happened by the time you’re standing at the watercooler Tuesday morning. Here’s your refresher.
1. Seth Meyers: Mister Median
The former SNL funnyman was completely serviceable as host. He wasn’t very good and nor was he very bad. His opening monologue was obsessed with the scheduling of the show—it was on a Monday this year because of the VMAs—and the difference between network television and cable. We get it, Seth. There’s a lot of different tiers of television. Keep yapping about this and I’m turning on Netflix.
2. A Genuine Tribute to Robin Williams
After the “In Memoriam” segment, Billy Crystal came on stage to give a tribute to his longtime friend. “He made us laugh,” he began by saying. It was short—too short, in fact—but sweet all the same. At least it was heartfelt, unlike the tribute a night earlier at the VMAs, which came off as more obligatory than genuine.
3. The Harrelson-McConaughey Charm Offensive
Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey presented the award for outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie and based on that should co-host next year. “Alright, alright, alright,” said Harrelson as they approached the microphone, stealing his friend’s catchphrase. It only got better from there.
4. Game of Thrones Shut Out …
The fantasy series based on George R. R. Martin’s novels went into the night with 19 nominations, more than any other show. It left with exactly zero. Fans can’t be happy, but they did get to see Weird Al sing encouragingly to Martin to finish the series.
5. … And Winners Just Keep On Winning
Television has become the most creatively fertile form of mass entertainment, full of surprises. And the Emmys? Not so much. Modern Family won for outstanding comedy series as it does every year; and Breaking Bad not surprising won for outstanding drama series, lead actor in a drama series (Bryan Cranston), outstanding supporting actress in a drama series (Anna Gunn), supporting actor in a drama series (Aaron Paul) and outstanding writer (Moira Walley-Beckett).
6. Julia! Julia! Julia!
Julia Roberts was at the Emmys on Monday night, and the television audience was never allowed to forget it. The Hollywood megastar was nominated for her work in The Normal Heart, and her celebrity wattage was a constant focus of the broadcast.
7. Cranston and Dreyfuss: The Best Unscripted Moment
When they presented an award together, Julia Louis Dreyfus cracked that Bryan Cranston looked like a guy who played a dentist on Seinfeld who converted to Judaism for the jokes. Later, when she was on her way up to accept an award, Cranston grabbed her and made out with her. “Oh yeah,” she said when he had finished, “you were on Seinfeld.”
8. Best Speech
Bryan Cranston, who won the outstanding actor in a drama series award for his role as Walter White on Breaking Bad. His speech was gracious, poignant and self-deprecating. Why did his family call him Sneaky Pete and not Sneaky Bryan?
9. Second-Best Speech
Gail Mancuso, the outstanding directing in a comedy series winner, stared at Matthew McConaughey during her speech because, well, why not.
10. Keeping it Short
Awards shows are too long, always. But this year’s Emmys rushed to shut down at 11 p.m. EST. The show never felt all that rushed, but there was no loose quality to it. And it still felt too long.