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* "Homeland" takes best drama actor, actress
* "Girls" creator Lena Dunham wins best comedy actress
* "Game Change" reaps awards for portrayal of Sarah Palin
By Piya Sinha-Roy
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Jan 13 (Reuters) - Post 9/11 psychological thriller "Homeland" was the big winner of the Golden Globe awards for television drama on Sunday for the second season running, while brash newcomer "Girls" and its struggling New York 20-somethings took home top comedy honors.
"Homeland" won best drama and best actor honors for Damian Lewis who plays a returning Iraq veteran turned by al Qaeda, and a best actress award for Claire Danes in her role as a bipolar CIA agent.
"All of us killed ourselves to live up to the hype of the first season, and this tells me that maybe we did not screw this up," said Alex Gansa, executive producer for the series that is in its second season on cable network Showtime.
"Homeland" had won best drama at September's Emmys, the top awards in television, ending the reign of AMC's stylish 1960s advertising show "Mad Men."
But the Golden Globes, handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for film and television, took a different path on comedy by choosing HBO's "Girls" over perennial favorite "Modern Family."
"Girls" creator and writer Lena Dunham won best actress in a comedy series, in which the 26-year-old bares herself, both physically and emotionally.
The series, which kicked off its second season Sunday night, tells the tale of Dunham and three girlfriends in Brooklyn, coping with boyfriends, sexuality, low or no-paying jobs and the end to parental support.
The show has raised eyebrows for its nudity and graphic sex scenes and the self-absorbed ways of its privileged young women.
"I think when you get criticism, you have to be elegant about it and appreciate it and understand it," said Dunham backstage, adding that "I'm sure people dislike the show for plenty of reasons."
In the miniseries or TV movie category, the Globes favored HBO's "Game Change," a take on Sarah Palin's meteoric rise and subsequent fall in American politics as the running mate to Republican presidential candidate John McCain in the 2008 election.
Julianne Moore, who played Palin with an uncanny physical resemblance, won best actress in a TV movie, while Ed Harris took best supporting actor for his portrayal of McCain.
Palin had famously panned Moore's performance.
"This was in no way a biopic or a character assassination, it was a story about our political process," said Moore backstage. "This is one of the best jobs I've ever had."
Kevin Costner won best actor for the mini-series on feuding families "Hatfields & McCoys," while Don Cheadle took the best actor for a TV comedy with "House of Lies," a biting satire of the world of management consultants.
Veteran British actress Maggie Smith won best supporting actress for her portrayal as an acerbic dowager countess on the popular period drama "Downton Abbey." (Writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by Stacey Joyce)