Is ‘True Detective’ going to squeeze a worthy show out of the Emmy drama race?


“True Detective” (Jim Bridges/HBO)

One of the most controversial stories of the Emmy Awards categories this year is in the Outstanding Drama Series race, namely because of two words: “True Detective.”

The freshman critically-adored HBO series famously decided to enter in the drama race instead of the miniseries race, even though a) it only aired eight episodes and b) creators have said the show will have a new cast and storyline each year.

The category entry isn’t technically breaking any rules, thanks to language within the TV academy rulebook. Still, industry insiders are not pleased, noting that it’s unfair to include that show in the drama race considering it can lure A-list actors (like leads Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) with shorter seasons and filming commitments.

Regardless, if “True Detective” does get a nomination for best drama — let’s face it, the odds are pretty good — who could it push out of the award show’s most fiercely competitive category?

Last year, the six nominees were: “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “Homeland,” “House of Cards” and “Mad Men.” They’re all critical favorites, so let’s break this down.

This was the last season of AMC’s “Breaking Bad,”and a stellar one on top of that: It’s the frontrunner to win, as it did last year, and will definitely still be nominated.

AMC’s “Mad Men” has been nominated every time since it’s inception. Though the quality has slipped — last year, our critic Hank Stuever debated whether it should have been nominated for a lackluster season — this is the first half of its final season, and nostalgia may get the best of everyone.

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is too good and too buzzy to drop off the list — it’s not going anywhere.

Now we get to trickier territory. Showtime’s “Homeland” certainly had an off year in Season 3. But it won the prize in 2012, and it can be really hard to convince academy voters that a show that outstanding just isn’t as great anymore.

Last year, the list remained the exact same from the 2012 category with one exception: Netflix’s “House of Cards” replaced “Boardwalk Empire.” This year, “House of Cards” got tons of buzz, but people started noticing that maybe people’s perceptions of the show’s quality were skewed by the tendency to binge-watch every episode. It might have some vulnerability in this category, though let’s be honest, the star power of Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright could be too much for voters to ignore.

Finally, that leaves “Downton Abbey.” The PBS series is still sort of a newcomer to the category, as it switched over in 2012 after it decided it was too good for the Outstanding Miniseries or TV Movie (it won that trophy in 2011). The show isn’t quite as hot as it once was, and perhaps remains the most likely to be booted off the list.

And while “True Detective” could shake up the old favorites, it could also bump some other deserving series that didn’t even make the list last year:  formerly-nominated “The Good Wife” (CBS); increasingly impressive “The Americans” (FX); newcomer “Masters of Sex” (Showtime); and even cult fave “Orphan Black” (BBC America).

Either way, if “True Detective” makes it on the list, expect a lot of outrage from some fandom.

Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for the Post. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyYahr.
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