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Editorial: Revolution Postponed

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards carried the promise of a disruption, but wound up delivering only minor jolts to the status quo. The Aug. 25 show and telecast were solidly produced, smoothrunning affairs, and the Monday rush hour traffic nightmares many feared never materialized. Julianna Margulies, a best actress drama winner for The Good Wife, told the press backstage that it was one of the most orderly Emmy rituals she had ever experienced.

The tally of winners also had a certain orderliness, or at least tradition-minded logic, to it. More than a few cable and broadcast execs were breathing sighs of relief at the afterparties that Netflix had come up virtually empty. “We were rooting for each other—basically, anyone but Netflix,” one confided.

Broadcast stalwarts such as Modern Family, The Good Wife and The Big Bang Theory remained in the winner’s circle and cable standouts such as Breaking Bad and Fargo also rose to the top. Perhaps the biggest shocker: PBS’ Sherlock scored three wins and the public broadcaster tied CBS for overall wins, with 11.

Host Seth Meyers got off a number of topical zingers highlighting the angst of broadcast nets beset by fierce competition on all fronts. The jokes struck deep in an industry room roiled by change. “No one is happier to see streaming services take nominations away from cable than network television,” he said. “Not very nice when someone younger comes along, is it, cable?” It’s a question that is likely to play out on many Emmy nights to come. Just not this one.