Even the mastermind behind Breaking Bad didn’t foresee an Emmys sweep for the show’s final season. “I didn’t think we would win — I thought it would be True Detective,” Vince Gilligan said at the AMC party in Los Angeles, Calif. after the show picked up five Emmys, including best Drama for the second year in a row. “I felt like there was an awful lot of groundswell for True Detective, which was an excellent show and a worthy show, and I thought, ‘We’ve been off the air now for a year and a half.'”
Breaking Bad raked in three out of the four top acting Emmys for Drama: another Lead Actor win for Bryan Cranston, a Supporting Actress win for Anna Gunn, and a Supporting Actor win for Aaron Paul.
Paul was just as surprised at the honors awarded to a show that’s no longer on the air. “I wanted Breaking Bad to sweep the way it did, but did I expect it?” he told TIME. “No.”
Writer Moira Walley-Beckett also picked up a Best Writing Emmy, which makes her the first solo woman to win the award in the Drama category since 1994 — the other female writers since then all co-wrote with men.
Gilligan said he hadn’t known that Walley-Beckett was the first woman to win for Drama writing on her own since Ann Biderman won for NYPD Blue in 1994. “That’s a sad statement, really — that [it’s] been 20 years,” he said. “That’s a sobering bit of history, but I’m sure glad Moira was the one who broke the streak. She wrote one of the best episodes we’ve ever had of Breaking Bad, and I’m so glad she won for it.”
Walley-Beckett’s win may be part of what Julianna Margulies called a “wonderful year for women in television” in her acceptance speech for Best Lead Actress in a Drama. Anna Gunn agrees. “I think there’s a plethora of really strong roles for women on television now,” she said. “It feels like a renaissance. It does make me feel like there were the days where there were female-driven shows like I Love Lucy and the Mary Tyler Moore show, and now we’re back in a place where female-driven dramas and comedies are making a real comeback.”
Besides, she added, “Sometimes the juiciest, most complex roles are actually in television.”
Meanwhile, a table full of Mad Men cast members sat in a corner, smoking like it was 1968.