1. Surprises are almost never good, even when we think we want them. A good surprise is when someone totally out of left field wins and seems to deserve it. A bad surprise is when someone wins who doesn’t seem to deserve it. The predictions machine had been predicting, pretty much, anyone but Jeff Daniels to win Best Actor in the drama category last night. But the Emmys are often criticized for choosing the same actors over and over again. Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad has won three in a row. Jon Hamm, on the other hand, is one of a very few with the most nominations and no wins in that category. Kevin Spacey, the newcomer from House of Cards, was also a formidable competitor. In Daniels’ defense, anyone who likes The Newsroom most likely likes Daniels in the role. He’s also one of the few bonafide good guys in the category, not an anti-hero, bucking the trend in television. 2. Making history is never easy. Kerry Washington was set to become the first black actress to win in the lead category. Emmy voters had their chance and they went, again, with Claire Danes for the second year in a row. It was an interesting moment at the Emmys when Diahann Carroll made a point of singling out Washington for this all too rare opportunity. Nobody watching thought Washington could or would beat Danes but for a brief moment it was quite something to contemplate the possibilities. That no black actress has ever won in that category is shameful. This, because of the too few roles for black women to play to get those wins, and because when the Emmys had a chance to change that power dynamic they chose not to. 3. Television is enjoying a new golden age that doesn’t require a specific formula to work – it works if it works. When David Fincher won Best Director for House of Cards it was a way of validating the new. The creativity isn’t driven by the need to win Emmys – it is being solely to create great programming, pushing boundaries, having corporate suits support that kind of freedom means more, not less of projects like House of Cards. Many films are driven by the need to win Oscars in order to get adult people to buy tickets anymore. The Oscars seem to be holding up the film industry that still gives a damn about making great films. But it was plainly clear watching the Emmys where the juice is. The Oscars couldn’t award Fincher for The Social Network because it wasn’t touchy-feely enough. The Emmys, thankfully, have no such need to only pick the characters and films that paint human beings in the best light. Can you imagine? 4. Women really do rule on television, and at the Emmys. It is remarkable to look at the difference between the women winning for actual starring roles. The leads are leads, the supporting contenders are supporting. Julia Louis-Dreyfus IS Veep. Claire Danes IS the star and central figure of Homeland. You can count on one hand films that will be headed into the Oscar race this year with those kinds of strong leads. 5. Nobody knows anything. What the Emmys lack that Oscars have in spades is precursors. If only the Oscars could go back to being that way. Now, each giant guild pushes a winner closer to the Oscar. The Emmys have no such influencer. The Globes are held at a different time of year and no one cares about the TCA (sorry). The Critics Choice are growing and perhaps their awards might start to influence the Emmys but they are, for all intents and purposes, pure. That makes them sometimes harder to predict, even if you could bet the house on Modern Family winning again. The Oscar race has become such a machine that surprise wins are becoming more and more rare, especially in the top categories. It was refreshing to see an Emmys show that all of the pundits got almost completely wrong.