The Showtime drama Homeland spoiled Mad Men's effort to set a television record Sunday night, taking home the Academy of Television Arts & Science's prize for best drama at the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, while Modern Family won best comedy for the third consecutive year.
AMC's Mad Men was looking to win a fifth consecutive best-drama award, which would have broken the record held by Hill Street Blues and The West Wing. L.A. Law won the award four times, but not in consecutive years.
But tonight belonged to Homeland, which won not only for best drama, but also prizes for stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.
Lewis and Danes were named outstanding actor and actress in a drama series for Homeland, the story of a former Marine sergeant -- played by Lewis -- suspected by a CIA agent -- played by Danes -- of plotting an attack against the country.
"I'm one of those pesky Brits," Lewis said while accepting the award at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. "I don't really believe in judging art, but I thought I'd show up just in case. Turned out all right."
He joked that his children thought he had been nominated for an "Emma" award.
"Well, daddy just won an Emma," he said.
For Danes, the win for best actress in a drama was her second Emmy, but her first in the category. She won an Emmy for lead actress in a miniseries or movie for Temple Grandin in 2010. She thanked the show's "all-star team of writers ... for taking the drama to the very brink and just a little bit beyond."
In addition to its win for best comedy, Modern Family collected supporting-acting prizes for Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen and a best- directing Emmy for series co-creator Steven Levitan.
The win was the second in a row for Bowen. She and Stonestreet both gave kudos to their co-stars.
"Sophia (Vergara), I know you're younger than me, but I want to be you when I grow up," Bowen said.
Stonestreet, meanwhile, gave thanks to his television partner, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, as he collected his second Emmy in the category.
"I wouldn't be standing here without Jesse Tyler Ferguson," Stonestreet said. "There is no Cam without Mitch. We're only Mitch and Cam and you know that, and it's such an honor to know you. I love you so much. I am proud to call you my friend. I love who you are as a person. We get the awesome opportunity to play these two characters on TV and show America and the world what a loving couple we can be just like everybody else, and it's an honor to do that.
"I never knew I'd be on TV as a gay man but I love the pictures of hairy chests you guys are sending me. It's really amazing. Thank you for those."
Levitan, a co-creator of Modern Family, quipped that he was honored to have gotten a directing job for the series.
"I want to thank me for hiring me as a director when no one else would," he joked. "I wouldn't be standing here without my faith in me."
Jon Cryer, who won a supporting-actor Emmy in 2009 for his work on Two and a Half Men, was named best lead actor in a comedy for his role as Alan Harper in the CBS hit.
"Something has clearly gone terribly wrong," Cryer said as he accepted the award. "I am in an amazing category with amazing people who I worship and admire.
"... It's been an incredible journey on this show," he said, referencing a show that was thrown into turmoil with the departure of star Charlie Sheen and his replacement by Ashton Kutcher.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus collected her third Emmy Award, winning for outstanding lead actress in a comedy for Veep. She won in the same category in 2006 for "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and won a supporting- actress prize in 1996 for her work in Seinfeld.
"It's a bit mystifying to me because people say this show is a comedy and yet I don't see anything funny about me being vice president of the United States," she said.
Aaron Paul won his second Emmy for supporting actor in a comedy series for his work opposite Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad. He also took home the prize in 2010.
He thanked series creator Vince Gilligan, saying, "Thank you so much and the rest of the writers; thank you so much for not killing me off, that was the plan."
Paul added, "I'm in a room full of people just tasting our dreams. And so thank you, Hollywood, for allowing me to be a part of your group."
Maggie Smith won the Emmy for supporting actress in a drama for Downtown Abbey.
"The Amazing Race" won the Emmy for outstanding reality-competition program for the ninth time in 10 years, while Tom Bergeron of ABC's Dancing with the Stars won his first Emmy for reality show host.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was named outstanding variety series for the 10th year in a row, prompting Stewart to joke that he and his crew were promised a free sandwich after 10 wins.
"We make topical comedy," he noted, "which has the shelf life of egg salad."
Comedian Louis C.K. won a pair of Emmys -- one for outstanding writing in a variety special for his performance show Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre and writing for a comedy series for Louie.
The HBO film Game Change, the story of the presidential campaign of Arizona Sen. John McCain after his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, collected four Emmys -- outstanding miniseries or made-for-television movie, best writing for Danny Strong, best actress for Julianne Moore and best director for Jay Roach.
"I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down," Moore said.
The miniseries Hatfields & McCoys earned two awards, with Tom Berenger being named best supporting actor and Kevin Costner winning his first Emmy Award as lead actor in a miniseries or television movie.
Thanks largely to Game Change, HBO won the most awards during tonight's ceremony, with six. ABC collected five prizes, while Showtime earned four, FX earned three and History had two.