“Breaking Bad,” the AMC drama about a high school teacher turned drug impresario, captured TV’s highest honors in an Emmy ceremony that cemented the program’s legacy as one of television’s best series.
The show, which ended its five-season run almost a year ago, grabbed Emmy awards for top drama, best actor, best writing and best supporting actors yesterday at the 66th Primetime Emmy awards in Los Angeles. The show, hosted by Seth Meyers, aired on NBC from the Nokia Theatre.
Unlike many series that peak in the first season or two, “Breaking Bad” reached its apex in fans and accolades as it was leaving the airwaves. The audience mushroomed from a couple million viewers to more than 10 million for the finale, a phenomenon powered by Netflix Inc. and other streaming services that let viewers catch up with the show.
“I’d like to dedicate this award to all the Sneaky Petes of the world who thought that maybe settling for mediocrity was a good idea because it was safe,” said Bryan Cranston, who won his fourth Emmy for his portrayal of Walter White as he transformed from a dedicated educator to an evil killer. “Don’t do it. Take a chance. Take a risk. Find that passion.”
In addition to the honors for Cranston and the Emmy for top drama, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn won awards for their supporting roles while Moira Walley-Beckett grabbed a statuette for writing.
“Breaking Bad” shut out high profile shows from Time Warner Inc.’s HBO network and Netflix Inc. “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective,” two HBO dramas, earned a combined 31 nominations yet won just one award during the telecast, with Cary Joji Fukunaga taking the Emmy for directing “True Detective.”
Netflix also failed to win a statuette during the show. The online service garnered 31 nominations in its second year as a serious contender on the strength of two key entries, the women’s prison comedy “Orange Is the New Black” and the political drama “House of Cards.”
Instead, academy voters bestowed honors on broadcast network series, such as “Modern Family,” which grabbed the top comedy Emmy for Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network, and CBS Corp.’s “The Big Bang Theory,” with lead actor Jim Parsons grabbing his fourth award for that show. HBO garnered one comedy win, for Julia Louis-Dreyfus for her lead in “Veep.”
HBO won two Emmys for “The Normal Heart,” the television movie about the onset of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s and efforts by activists to fight the burgeoning epidemic.
“We’re going to use the rest of our time to ask young people watching to become Larry Kramers, to find a cause you believe in, that you will fight for, that you will die for,” Ryan Murphy, director of the picture, said of the writer. “This is for all of the hundreds of thousands of artists who have passed from HIV/AIDS since 1981. Your memory and your passion burns on in us.”
Following its loss, Netflix tweeted a redubbed clip from “House of Cards” featuring actor Michael Kelly, who plays Kevin Spacey’s scheming chief of staff in the series, Doug Stamper.
“Get Jim from the academy on the phone,” Stamper said. “Hey Jim, I thought we had a deal.”
The audience for the show, which typically airs on a Sunday, fell 12 percent from last year’s Emmys, according to Nielsen data supplied by NBC. The program attracted 15.6 million viewers, NBC said, a decline from 17.8 million in 2013.
The traditional tribute to stars who died in the past year took on added significance during the show with the death two weeks ago of manic funnyman Robin Williams, who rose to fame as the alien Mork in the comedy “Mork & Mindy.”
Billy Crystal, his longtime friend, paid tribute to the tireless entertainer, recalling Williams being “on” even at a baseball game, pretending to be a Russian and saying his country had only one team, “the Reds.”
“He made us laugh, hard, every time you saw him,” Crystal said. “The relentless energy was thrilling. He could be funny anywhere.”