2015 Emmys Analyzed By The Numbers Show This Was A Historical Year For Women, Diversity & 'Game Of Thrones'
It almost feels like the end of an era, even though it's really not. With Sunday night's 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, hosted by Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Andy Samberg, we have officially paid our respects to the 2014-'15 season of television and all of its highs and lows. And with Monday night's premieres of CBS's Life In Pieces, FOX's Minority Report, and NBC's Blindspot, the 2015-'16 season officially begins, full of the promise and hope that only a season as-yet unblemished by disappointments and cancellations can bring. But before we put the past behind us for good, let's take one last moment to look back at who were the biggest winners — and the biggest losers — of last year, according to the numbers of the Emmys.
By now, we all know that Game Of Thrones and Veep took home the top prizes for Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Comedy Series, respectively. But exactly how many records were broken last night? How many performers came close to making history? And how many shows fumbled at the finish line? I've parsed through the nominations, wins, and losses to come up with a list of the most interesting factoids surrounding the 2015 Primetime Emmys. If you, like me, are obsessed with both the art of television and the simplicity of numbers, then these 11 fun facts should be supremely satisfying.
1. Game Of Thrones Breaks A Record
HBO's fantasy series is now the winningest drama of all time. Taking into account last weekend's Creative Arts Emmys, Thrones had the most nominations of the year (24), falling just short of the record set by NYPD Blue in 1994 (27). But those nominations translated into a record number of wins: 12, to be exact — the most Emmys ever won for a single season of a show, shattering The West Wing's previous record of nine. When those 12 wins are added to the 14 trophies Thrones had already racked up during its first four years on the air, it now ties The West Wing and Hill Street Blues for the most wins for a Drama series in Emmy history (26). Given the fact that those two shows are long gone and Thrones has at least three years left in its lifespan, I'd say the chances of Thrones become the sole record-holder soon is a fairly good one.
2. HBO Cleans Up
During last night's telecast, HBO won more awards than any other network combined: 14, leaving every other network on television (and not on television, for that matter) to scramble for the remaining 12 between them. The disparity is even more glaring when you take the Creative Arts Emmys into consideration: HBO scored a whopping 43 wins this year with those victories counted in. The only network to even score in the double digits was NBC with 12. Even more impressive? For the first time ever, the same network took home the trophies for every single main scripted category.
3. Viola Davis Makes History
Although the trophy for Lead Actor in a Drama first went to an African-American man in 1966, when Bill Cosby won for I Spy, and two other men — James Earl Jones and Andre Braugher — have achieved the same since then, it somehow took 67 years of Emmy history for an African-American woman to achieve the same feat. In 2015, Viola Davis became the first non-white actress ever to win the Lead Actress in a Drama category for her fearless portrayal of Annalise Keating on ABC's How To Get Away With Murder.
4. Uzo Aduba Defies Categorization
Last year's winner for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy took home the prize for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama this year; not a totally shocking feat by itself... until you take into account the fact that she won both awards for playing the same character: Orange Is The New Black 's Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren. As host Andy Samberg pointed out during the ceremony, Aduba became only the second performer in Emmy history to win awards for the same role in both the Drama and Comedy categories.
5. A Great Year For Diversity
Speaking of Viola Davis and Uzo Aduba... When you factor in the wins by Regina King (Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for American Crime), and Reg E. Cathey (Guest Actor in a Drama for House Of Cards), this was a great year for actors of color. As Viola Davis said in her acceptance speech, "The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity." Maybe these four wins signal that progress is finally being made — at least on television. In fact, 2015 was only the second year in Emmy history that more than two nonwhite actors won awards in the same ceremony. The last (and first) time that happened was in 1991, when five trophies were given to African-American performers.
6. Female Directors Get Credit
When Jill Soloway took home a trophy for directing Amazon's Transparent, and Lisa Cholodenko won hers for directing HBO's Olive Kitteridge, this became the first time in history that two women won for Outstanding Direction, traditionally a very male-centric category. In fact, before tonight, only five women had achieved the honor in any of the three categories (Drama, Comedy, or Miniseries/Movie). Now 2015 has added two more in one fell swoop. When you combine Soloway's and Cholodenko's trophies with Jane Anderson's win for writing Olive Kitteridge, and Amy Schumer's victory in the nascent Variety Sketch Series category (for her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer), this felt like a marked improvement for women overall.
7. Julia Louis-Dreyfus Continues Her Sweep
Although many fans were likely rooting for Amy Poehler to pull an upset for the final season of Parks And Recreation, it's hard to feel too bad about Louis-Dreyfus's history-making win. With four trophies for four seasons of playing Selina Meyer on HBO's Veep, the Seinfeld actress now has more consecutive wins than any actor in any category in Emmy history — surpassing the likes of Bryan Cranston, Michael J. Fox, and Rhea Perlman who each have three consecutive wins.
8. Allison Janney Gets Close
Winning Supporting Actress in a Comedy for the second year for her role on CBS's Mom, Janney is so close to the record she can probably taste it. Between Mom, Masters Of Sex, and The West Wing, she now has seven trophies — tied with Ed Asner and Mary Tyler Moore for the second-most wins by any performer in Emmy history, all of whom are just behind Cloris Leachman, who holds the record with eight. Janney, who was also nominated this year for her guest role on Masters Of Sex, could have caught up to that record last night... if only Margo Martindale hadn't snuck up from behind and nabbed the Guest Actress trophy for her work on The Americans. Maybe next year!
9. Jon Hamm Avoids Infamy
In ad man Don Draper, Hamm created one of the most iconic characters of television's current Golden Age — and yet, he was going into Sunday night's ceremony oh-for-seven when it came to nominations for his Mad Men performance. If Hamm hadn't won last night, he would have had the dubious distinction of being the most-nominated person in his category to have never taken home the gold. Fortunately, Emmy voters finally recognized their mistake and helped Hamm avoid that infamy.
10. American Horror Story's Horror Story
Ryan Murphy's buzzy anthology series went into Sunday night's telecast as the most-nominated show of the evening, with eight nods. And yet it went home empty-handed; for the first time in the show's four year history, not a single AHS actor won an award. Not even Sarah Paulson, who was considered by most to be her category's frontrunner for her tour de force performance as two-headed twins Bette and Dot Tattler. Murphy had to content himself with the five awards his show took home in technical categories.
11. Mad Men And Modern Family Fall Short
2015 will likely be remembered as the year that the titans fell. The two assumed frontrunners for the night's top prizes were Mad Men, which won Outstanding Drama its first four years on the air and was hot off its critically-acclaimed final season, and Modern Family, which was on a seemingly unstoppable five-year winning streak. If either show had won, they would have made Emmy history. Either of them had the potential to become the most awarded show in their respective categories... but ultimately fell to Game Of Thrones and Veep. Not only that, but both frontrunners went home with only one award apiece: Jon Hamm's Lead Actor win for Mad Men, and a Sound Mixing trophy for Modern Family.
The 2015 Emmys definitely signaled a shift in the television landscape — as evidenced by the (spoiler-ific) montage of beloved shows that had ended for good throughout the last season. Will Game Of Thrones be able to hold onto its crown in 2016? Or is our next Drama winner lying just around the riverbend of the upcoming Fall season? Only time will tell...