Emmy had a split personality this year. Television's annual awards show honored hot new broadcast comedies "Modern Family" and "Glee," while sticking with more familiar favorites from cable in drama.
"Modern Family" won the Emmy for best comedy in its rookie season. The sweetly uproarious sitcom knit together a gay couple and their adopted daughter, a more traditional bumbling dad and his uptight wife, and a world-weary patriarch with his hot young Latin wife — and became an instant favorite on ABC.
"We are so grateful, we are so thrilled that families are sitting down together to watch a television show," said Steven Levitan, the show's co-creator. "We just want you to know, we just wanted to say we are so happy that you have let us into your families."
Levitan's partner in the show, writer Christopher Lloyd, was oddly absent from the onstage celebrating. Levitan said later that Lloyd, not to be confused with actor Christopher Lloyd, has an aversion to crowds.
Five of the six members of the show's comedic couples were nominated for supporting actor awards. Eric Stonestreet, who plays the rotund, flamboyant half of the gay couple, won an Emmy.
He said backstage that his parents, Vince and Jamey, will get his Emmy.
"I know exactly where they're going to put it," he said. "They eat breakfast and dinner at the same spot every day. I want them to be able to sit there and look at it and know that they made this possible."
While Fox's "Glee" was beaten out for best comedy, the musical's impact was demonstrated when Emmy Awards host Jimmy Fallon poked fun at the highly rated show with his opening routine. Fallon played the leader of a "glee club," joined by some of the series' stars and contributors like Tina Fey and Jon Hamm, performing "Born to Run."
The skit won huge applause from a jaded industry audience.
The show's creator, Ryan Murphy, earned a best directing Emmy and the tough coach, Jane Lynch, beat back two "Modern Family" stars to win best supporting actress in a comedy.
Murphy noted that "Glee" is about the impact of arts education on high school students.
"I would like to dedicate this to all of my teachers who taught me to sing and finger-paint," he said.
Edie Falco of Showtime's "Nurse Jackie" looked shocked to win the Emmy for best comedy actress. "As soon as somebody calls you funny, you're not funny anymore," she said later.
Emmy awards shouldn't be foreign to her: Falco pulled the neat trick of winning the comedy award after previously winning an Emmy for best actress in a drama series for her work on "The Sopranos."
Jim Parsons of CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" won for best comedic actor, unleashing his real-life inner nerd later.
"I'm a big reader of almanacs, or I was, and I like lists and things like that — boy do I sound OCD," he said backstage. "So I was awfully thrilled to be part of a list, a group, like this. The winning was really beyond."
AMC's "Mad Men" won the Emmy for best dramatic series for the third consecutive season. It's a similar three-year winning streak for Bryan Cranston, who won best actor in a drama for his work as a teacher and meth dealer on AMC's "Breaking Bad." Cranston's partner on the show, Aaron Paul, won his first Emmy for best supporting actor.
"It's like having a great meal to do the show," Cranston said backstage. "And then to be awarded an Emmy is a beautiful flambe dessert. And then last year was another dessert on top of that. I feel gluttonous. It's more than I can take in."
Wins almost seem routine for "Mad Men," whose creator Matthew Weiner and Erin Levy, shared a writing award for drama series.
Weiner was listening to Levy's acceptance speech but it went long, and he was visibly upset when the music cut off his own acceptance speech.
He had another chance, though, when "Mad Men" won the best drama series award.
"So where was I?" he slyly asked.
He seemed much more relaxed after the second trophy.
'I never feel like I'm rolling," he said. "I'm in a terror and a free-fall every day."
"Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" are popular within the Hollywood audience. But broadcasters say their dramas still get a larger audience than those cable shows, and they've grumbled at the lack of attention their dramas receive. The new CBS drama "The Good Wife" and its star, Julianna Margulies, were seen as strong candidates to bring a broadcast network back into the winner's circle for drama.
Yet it was passed by, except for Archie Panjabi, who won a supporting actress Emmy for her role as a private investigator. Kyra Sedgwick of TNT's "The Closer" won best actress in a drama.
Emmy voters missed another opportunity: to make host NBC very uncomfortable.
Conan O'Brien's short-lived "Tonight" show was nominated in the variety series category. It was seen as an affront when O'Brien was nominated and Jay Leno, the man he replaced, was not.
But O'Brien didn't win. That award went to Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," which has won the category nine times since 2001.
No apologies from Rory Albanese, the show's executive producer. "The category's insane and we keep winning it. It's tough to feel bad. We work really hard," he said.
"Top Chef" won best reality series, ending the seven-year winning streak of "The Amazing Race."
HBO movies on the lives of euthansia expert Jack Kevorkian and animal sciences expert Temple Grandin won awards. Al Pacino and Claire Danes won best actor trophies, and paid tribute to the real-life characters they portrayed who were sitting in the audience.
The awards also allowed Adam Mazer, Emmy-winning writer for "You Don't Know Jack," to get off one of the best lines of the night.
"I'm grateful you're my friend," Mazer said, looking out at Kevorkian. "I'm even more grateful you're not my physician."
Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report.