There were a lot of upsets, obvious wins, and sort-of surprises during last night's 2013 Emmy Awards telecast. Among these was a huge primetime win in the Outstanding Variety Series category that was overshadowed a bit by big wins for the likes of Breaking Bad, Veep and Behind the Candelabra. The win that was likely the most impressive but the least talked about was Stephen Colbert’s dethroning of John Stewart’s The Daily Show for the first time in a decade.

The Colbert Report and The Daily Show have been competitors ever since Colbert actually left Stewart’s show back in 2005 to branch out on his own. Over the years, The Daily Show has been known for consistent interviews and comedy while The Colbert Report has made a name for itself with zany comedy sketches and viral videos that can get people of all ages on the same page. No one has doubted that The Colbert Report is a fine variety program, as are some of last night’s other nominees in the category, including Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Saturday Night Live. Regardless, this year’s awards serve to put a spotlight on the end of an era and what should prove to be the beginning of a new one.

The award actually used to be called Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series, but if you take a look at the Emmys official site, you’ll notice that not only has The Daily Show been nominated for this award every year since 2001, the program has won every one of these awards since 2002, when the series lost to Late Night with David Letterman. That’s 10 years of statues for The Daily Show--a streak that was well-earned, but made to be broken.

Colbert, for his part, wasn’t shy about giving a nod to Stewart during his speech, talking about how it was Stewart who encouraged the Comedy Central host to go out there and be a “professional idiot” in a full-time gig. He also spoke out about being around when Stewart had won Emmy’s before, noting that Stewart had never explained how good it really felt to win.
“As I said before, it’s sort of a cliché to say it’s just an honor to be nominated but it’s more than that, it’s also a lie. This is way better. I personally have to thank my friend and my brother John Stewart, who is the one who said ‘We should do a show together where you’re a professional idiot” and John never told me how good this feels, actually. “

Leading into this fall, variety programs are totally moving into a new era. Colbert’s got the Emmy win to back him, Kimmel’s just settled into his new timeslot and will soon be competing full-time against Fallon, and SNL is offering fans a cast that is chock full of new featured players. The Daily Show is certainly not going anywhere, but the doors are wide open for interesting new talent and innovation. The Outstanding Variety Series category at the Emmys should be one to watch. I’m just hoping W. Kamau Bell gets his name up there eventually.

Photo Credit @ Monty Brinton/CBS ©2013

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