(The Root) — The 64th-annual Emmy Awards complemented the new fall television season while celebrating the medium's greatest actors, directors and more on Sunday at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.
Late-night talk show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel helmed the show and had promised an unexpected prank during the ceremonies. Unfortunately, that twist turned out simply to be actor Tracy Morgan pretending to have passed out onstage, and the audience at home was instructed to tweet, "OMG Tracy Morgan just passed out onstage at the #emmys tune in to ABC now!" Needless to say, the joke fell as flat as Morgan's back on the stage floor.
However, Kimmel's opening monologue zingers were chuckle-worthy, including jabs at Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. "Downton Abbey is an amazing show … it really gives you a sense of what it must have been like to grow up in Mitt Romney's house," Kimmel said, before further cracking on the Republicans in the audience brave enough to clap. "Forty Republicans and the rest are godless liberal homosexuals. See, that's why Kelsey Grammer didn't come tonight … Being a Republican in Hollywood is like being a Chick-Fil-A sandwich on the snack table at Glee."
Ultimately, Kimmel was a safe host choice for ABC, the network airing the Emmys, and it showed. Where's Kevin Hart or Chris Rock when you need them? And none of the black Emmy nominees took home any accolades. Still, Sunday night's collection of winners did give entertainment enthusiasts a clue about what to consider as must-see TV versus what one should catch up on later, during, say, a boob tube-watching marathon on a chilly winter night (the complete list of Emmy winners is here). Many of the shows that garnered awards, like Modern Family, which nabbed a number of awards including outstanding comedy series, begin their new seasons this week, so the presentation may just provide a ratings bump.
Here are a few memorable moments from the 2012 Emmys, including the best hug ever shared by two actors (see below).
Aaron Paul Wins for Breaking Bad
If you haven't been watching AMC's Breaking Bad, the story of a chemistry teacher-turned-crystal meth cook, you're truly missing out. Giancarlo Esposito, of Spike Lee's School Daze and the new NBC show Revolution, also happens to have given arguably a career-defining performance on the series as the calculating meth czar Gustavo "Gus" Fring. Nominated alongside co-star Aaron Paul for supporting actor in a drama series, when Paul won the award — which many viewers assumed would go to Esposito — the veteran actor gave the young man a strong hug and kiss of encouragement. Paul thanked and acknowledged Esposito from the stage and seemed genuinely surprised that he'd won.
Jon Stewart's Daily Show Wins 10th Consecutive Emmy
Jon Stewart and his Daily Show crew took home an Emmy for outstanding variety series, marking a decade on the Emmy stage. And while that legacy in itself could be boring, Stewart's schtick with buddies Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert wasn't. When Stewart's name was called Fallon and Colbert tussled the winner to the floor, pretending to hold him back from reaching the stage to accept his award. By the time the silver-haired comedian did collect his trophy, he was out of breath.
"I'm not in the kind of shape I should be in to do a bit with Jimmy Fallon, who's in very good shape," Stewart said with a laugh, before adding, "We make topical comedy, which has the shelf life of egg salad — nobody cares after five days. So to do this for 15 years and to have tangible proof that what we made wasn't just ephemeral is wonderful."
Parks and Recreation Star Amy Poehler Loses, But Somehow Still Wins
When Seinfeld alum and star of HBO's Veep Julia Louis-Dreyfus was announced as the winner for lead actress in a comedy series, her acceptance speech opened with a bit during which she pretended to have started reading Amy Poehler's planned acceptance speech. Many expected Poehler to win this award based on her success with her NBC sitcom, Parks and Recreation.
"Isn't a shame that Amy Poehler didn't win?" Louis-Dreyfus asked.
Ricky Gervais Brings the Golden Globes to the Emmys
Mischievous Brit Ricky Gervais made light of the sobriety at the Emmys, saying, "So much better than the Golden Globes, isn't it? You all are so nice and attentive, wishing you were at the Globes and drinking probably. I've just had a beer, and it's the only reason I agreed to hand out an Emmy … so I could have a beer." Presenting the outstanding director of a variety special award, Gervais used the opportunity to make fun of nominee and friend Louis C.K., declaring that if he wasn't the winner, then he wasn't the No. 1 comedian in the world. Though he did nab other awards, including writing for a variety special, Louis didn't win this one.
Homeland, Modern Family Sweep the Emmys
Blend the best parts of a thriller along with America's heightened anxiety around the threat of government corruption, spies and terrorist activities, and you've got Showtime's Homeland. Winning four awards, including outstanding leading actress in a drama for Claire Danes and the evening's biggest accolade, best drama series, the show, which depicts a wife who suspects her husband is a terrorist spy, was the belle of the ball along with Modern Family. Racking up outstanding comedy series as well as supporting actor and actress in a comedy series nods for Julie Bowen and Eric Stonestreet respectively, the ABC sitcom was a clear winner.
Danes got a bit feisty with the award show's producers for cutting off the Homeland writers during their acceptance speech. "First, I have to thank our writers since they were so unceremoniously cut off," Danes said as she held her award.
Hillary Crosley is The Root's New York City bureau chief. Follow her on Twitter.