The Emmys have always been a pretty conservative awards ceremony, with things rarely getting too radical. Last night's show was no different, as cozy, comfy crowd-pleaser Modern Family won three of the five big comedy awards (plus Best Direction) and Two and a Half Men's boring old Jon Cryer took Best Actor. Things on the drama side were a little different, but different in, well, a rather familiar way.

The big surprise of the evening was that Showtime's Homeland became that network's first-ever winner in a Best Series category, beating the critically lauded Breaking Bad and Mad Men in the Best Drama slot. The show's two lead actors, Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, also picked up the top drama trophies, as did its writers. So the Academy wanted it made perfectly clear that they support Homeland, but that doesn't mean that it's going to enjoy a lengthy run of Emmys victories in the years to come. No, as a Twitter friend posited last night, Homeland's win is reminiscent of Lost's in 2005; a cool, exciting show in a specific genre — supernatural mystery for Lost, espionage drama for Homeland — gets one big awards nod and then never wins again. The same thing happened to 24 in 2006 (though unlike in the case of Lost or Homeland, that was not 24's debut season). Still, the point is that the Emmys have a habit of doing these occasional one-off award-as-encouragement things, but that doesn't mean that you suddenly have to start watching Homeland because it's the new awards darling. No, it'll likely be far from that.

Homeland is a good show, there's no denying that. But it is certainly not a better series than Breaking Bad or Mad Men, or than Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire, for that matter. While the acting is smooth and competent, even when Claire Danes is going cuckoo-nuts in hysteric fits, and the pacing allures and intrigues, it's not actually, on closer inspection, exactly the smartest show in town. There's an abundance of too-easy plot connections and enough outlandish, out-of-character behavior to turn the thing pretty quickly from credible terrorism thriller to soapy kitchen sink entertainment. Don't get us wrong, it's still gripping entertainment that's worth checking out, but this is not some prestige tent-pole TV show that can compete with the best of 'em. Even though, well, it did last night, and it beat them. But really only because one of the more reliable Emmy traditions is the beknighting of the occasional artsy or edgy choice. Arrested Development surprised everyone by winning in 2004, but ended up being sandwiched between Everybody Loves Raymond victories on either side. Despite the occasional nod to originality, the Emmys is mostly the awards ceremony where Frasier wins five times in a row or Modern Family wins three years back-to-back-to-back, and counting.

It's probably asking too much of the Emmys to be more consistently creative and outside-the-box, and it's not like they're completely out of touch -- not when genius Louis C.K. did win two awards last night, and Aaron Paul won (for a second time), and at least Lena Dunham was nominated for a bunch of things. But still, when Jon Cryer went bounding up on stage in mock surprise, or when all those Modern Family kids stood up there looking both bored and expectant on their third trip, it was hard to see the Emmys as being anything but a conventional, traditional kind of a thing. Homeland's win doesn't mark a turning point, it's just something that happens from time to time.