Photo Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images; Steve Granitz/WireImage
The most predictable criticism about the Emmy Awards? They're so predictable.
But this year, critics will have to find something else to moan about. If you filled out your office pool Emmy ballot based on what you thought the Academy would choose, well, you probably lost big. The 2013 Emmys will go down in history as one of the shows with the most random victories imaginable. (Even host Neil Patrick Harris made a joke that your office pool was most likely ruined by the winners!)
One exception: Yep, Modern Family won again. Not even in a year of upsets could this show be toppled from its best comedy perch. On the other hand, in a highly unusual turn of events, none of its actors took home statues. And those actors who did hear their names called were often first-timers.
Take the award for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. In a year when critics couldn't stop gushing about Bryan Cranston's seering performance as Breaking Bad's death-spiraling Walter White, The Newsroom's Jeff Daniels got called to the podium. That's right: For his performance on a show that's been savagely panned by reviewers and overlooked by viewers, Daniels not only beat out Cranston (whose show won best drama largely on his acting merits), he also bested Damian Lewis of Homeland, Kevin Spacey of House of Cards, and Jon Hamm of Mad Men. Is that unpredictable enough for you?
And the surprise wins hardly ended there. The award for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series didn't go to any of the actors with critical wind at their backs. Despite lots of media buzz, Jonathan Banks and Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad were both denied the statue. So were the popular Jim Carter of Downtown Abbey, previous winner Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones, and the beloved Mandy Patinkin of the hottest show on TV, Homeland. The winner? Bobby Cannavale, whose villainous one-season arc on Boardwalk Empire ended in his character's murder.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus certainly deserved the statue she won for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, but the Veep star's victory was still surprising. She beat out Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham -- all of whom were considered probable winners above Louis-Dreyfus by critics.
The outstanding supporting actor and actress in a comedy series were both upsets as well. In the actor category, TV insiders have learned not to bet against the Modern Family actors (and there were three of them represented in the nominee list). But this year's winner in the category was Tony Hale, the sycophantic vice presidential aide that's brought so many laughs to Veep. Was he deserving? Absolutely. But given the Academy's track record, he was also a surprising choice.
The outcome of the race for supporting actress was so shocking that the winner herself, Nurse Jackie's Merritt Wever, was rendered speechless at the podium. She, too, accomplished the unlikely feat of stealing the statue from a Modern Family actor (both Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara were nominated). And Jane Lynch, who plays Glee's popular cheerleading coach, lost out to Wever, too.
While the award for outstanding reality competition program is usually a toss up between The Amazing Race and Top Chef, this year's winner was The Voice. And best variety show -- an award that the Daily Show with Jon Stewart has handily snagged every year for a decade -- unexpectedly went to Stewart's one-time protege, Stephen Colbert, who now helms The Colbert Report.
Overall, the fresh choices are a positive step for the Emmy Awards. Predictability is boring. As for your office pool, well, better luck next year!
Jennifer Graham Kizer is an Atlanta-based writer who covers pop culture and watches too much TV. Luckily, iVillage gives her an excuse to watch even more. Follow her on Google+.