Emmy Drama: Claire Danes, Homeland Surprise Winners 1“Homeland” and “Game Change,” two television shows grounded in current events, were the big winners at the Primetime Emmy Awards last night (Sept. 23), besting previous winners like “Mad Men,” “Downton Abbey,” and “Game of Thrones.”

“Homeland,” starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, debuted this year and focuses on the post Sept. 11, 2001 hunt for terrorists in the United States. Danes and Lewis also won for best actor and actress and the show won for best writing.

Major Emmy Award Winners

Drama Series

Best Drama: Homeland, Showtime
Best Actress: Claire Danes, Homeland, Showtime
Best Actor: Damian Lewis, Homeland, Showtime
Best Supporting Actor: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad, AMC
Best Supporting Actress: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey, PBS
Writing: Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff, Homeland, Showtime
Directing: Tim Van Patten, Boardwalk Empire, HBO

Comedy Series

Comedy: Modern Family, ABC
Actress: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep, HBO
Actor: Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men, CBS
Supporting Actor: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family, ABC
Supporting Actress: Julie Bowen, Modern Family, ABC
Writing: Louis C.K, Louie, FX Networks
Directing: Steven Levitan, Modern Family, ABC

Miniseries or Movie

Best Miniseries or Movie: Game Change, HBO
Actress: Julianne Moore, Game Change, HBO
Actor: Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys, History
Supporting Actor: Tom Berenger, Hatfields & McCoys, History
Supporting Actress: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story, FX Networks
Writing: Danny Strong, Game Change, HBO
Directing: Jay Roach, Game Change, HBO

Variety, Reality Shows

Host, Reality-Competition Program: Tom Bergeron, Dancing With the Stars, ABC
Reality-Competition Program: The Amazing Race, CBS
Variety, Music or Comedy Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Comedy Central
Writing: Louis C.K., Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre, FX Networks
Directing,: Glenn Weiss, 65th Annual Tony Awards, CBS

“Mad Men,” about a fictional ad agency in the go-go 1960s was the favorite to repeat as a big winner with 17 nominations. But the show was shut out along with “Downton Abbey” and “Game of Thrones.”

Danes was up against formidable competition from veteran actresses: Glenn Close in “Damages,” Kathy Bates in “Harry’s Law,” Julianna Margulies in “The Good Wife, Michelle Dockery in “Downton Abby” and Elizabeth Moss in “Mad Men.”

Danes, who plays a CIA agent Carrie Mathison in a psychological game of wits with an al Qaeda, sleeper agent, said the show spoke “to our feelings of anxiety and unrest right now, in the sense that we’re in a new era where the enemy is not so clear.”

[The show] “doesn’t take a very biased position [but] it does speak to our feelings of anxiety and unrest right now, in the sense that we’re in a new era where the enemy is not so clear.”

“Homeland” returns for a second season, Sept. 30. The opening episode is ripped right from headlines. It focuses on the aftermath of Israel’s bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities.

Dame Maggie Smith, 77, won for supporting actress her portrayal of the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey.

“Game Change,” the HBO movie about Sarah Palin’s selection as John McCain’s 2008 U.S. vice presidential race, also captured the attention of Emmy voters. It won for best miniseries and for writing and directing. Julianne Moore also won for acting.

“Wow, I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down!” Moore told the audience as she accepted the award.