“I come to award shows for the twerking!” The 65th Emmy Awards weren’t 15 minutes in before the peanut gallery was weighing in with criticism. That particular request came from Tina Fey, sitting front-row with Amy Poehler, in the middle of host Neil Patrick Harris’ opening monologue. Twerking, as it turned out, wasn’t on the agenda. But with Harris, imported from the Tony Awards to do the honors, song and dance was. NPH rollicked through a mid-show musical number, and for the first time, the choreography award was presented during the prime-time broadcast, following an epic dance break.
The show wasn’t all happy hoofing. There were teary memorials for stars who passed away, including James Gandolfini (remembered by his on-screen wife, Edie Falco) and Cory Monteith (by his on-screen nemesis, Jane Lynch). And for some, even good news proved overwhelming. When Merritt Wever won her first Emmy for her supporting role on Nurse Jackie early in the night, her acceptance speech was one sentence long: “I gotta go, bye.”
But overall, the mood wasn’t blue—even if the most popular color of the night was. (Allison Williams, in Ralph Lauren; Edie Falco, in Escada; and Fey, in custom Narciso Rodriguez, all seemed to have gotten that memo.) There were triumphant moments for underappreciated actors, like Tony Hale (famous as Arrested Development‘s Buster, now a winner for Veep) and Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad‘s Skyler White). And if you prefer rooting for winners, there’s always Julia Louis-Dreyfus. With her 14th Emmy nomination, she bypassed Lucille Ball as the most nominated woman of all time. And then, of course, she won.
Win or lose, there are a few looks worth cheering for. Top honors of the evening went to Claire Danes in glittering Armani Privé; Michelle Dockery, in Prada; and an up-and-comer repping an up-and-comer, Kiernan Shipka in Delpozo.