'Fargo,' 'Orange Is the New Black' Top Critics' Choice Television Awards 2014

Tatiana Maslany

The evening also saw honors for Ryan Murphy, Matthew McConaughey and "Breaking Bad."

As television’s greatest players were lauded on Thursday night at the fourth annual Critics' Choice Awards, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, so was the medium itself.

"The quality of television today is higher than it's ever been,” said Archer's Christian Slater before announcing the best drama series winner, fan favorite Breaking Bad.

But it was Academy Award-winner Matthew McConaughey who was the most vocal about the small screen's superiority. Standing on the Beverly Hilton Hotel stage to pick up his award for best actor in a drama series, the True Detective star said he's often asked why he decided to do television.

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"My answer has always been very quick, very simple and the same: quality,” he said, adding: “Television is raising the bar on the character drama series. It just is ... That character development that we love, you don’t get that anywhere else. You got the Monday morning watercooler talk. You got the ... anticipation of seeing next episode."

Mom and Masters of Sex actress Allison Janney's acceptance speeches were considerably shorter, but just as memorable. In fact, the packed ballroom, filled with stars including two-time best actress in a drama series winner Tatiana Maslany and best actor in a comedy series winner Jim Parsons, erupted with laughter when Janney took the podium and said, "I just came,” upon winning the award for best guest performer in a drama series for her character Margaret Scully in the Showtime drama.

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She kept up the sexual puns when her name was called a second time for best supporting actress in a comedy series for her role in Chuck Lorre's Mom, joking: "Well, this the climax of my career.”

Other big winners of the show, which was broadcast on The CW for the first time this year, included Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, which was submitted and won in the less competitive comedy category despite the show's critically beloved dramatic elements.

Particularly pleased with the accomplishment of the series, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos gave the five Orange actresses present at the ceremony a double thumbs up from his seat after they shared a group hug together following their best comedy series win.

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Individual performances also racked up the awards tally for the streaming service. Kate Mulgrew, who plays Red in the hourlong Netflix dramedy, tied with Janney for best supporting actress in a comedy series, and Uzo Aduba was recognized for best guess performer in a comedy series.

“Thank you, Jenji, for changing my life,” said a watery-eyed Aduba, who was dressed in a sparkly gold gown, nearly unrecognizable from her Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” character.

Squeezing three wins out of Orange, Netflix tied with FX limited series Fargo, which wrapped its run to critical raves this week, for the most awards for a series. But it was FX that led the network pack with five wins total, followed by HBO with four.

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The Normal Heart, American Horror Story and Glee creator Ryan Murphy, awarded with the 2014 Critics Choice Louis XIII Genius Award, kept his speech light-hearted, acknowledging that he was excited to be honored until checked Twitter. He then read aloud several "mean tweets" he discovered on the social media service: " 'Murphy is being called a genius by some critics group. I no longer want to live. What's next, is Jessica Simpson winning a spelling bee?' "

On a more serious note, Murphy shared the advice he gives to young people: "Surround yourself with people who are more talented than you,” adding, in jest: “And then take all the credit."

Keeping with the theme of the night, he concluded by thanking the medium of television: "We could never do last year what TV viewers go nuts for this year."