‘True Detective’ to Submit as Drama Series, Not Miniseries, for Emmys

true detective

Imagine the soliloquy Rust Cohle could spin about the philosophical reasoning behind Emmy submission strategies.

HBO has thrown down the gauntlet, making the decision to enter “True Detective” into the Primetime Emmy drama series categories rather than the miniseries field. It’s a statement that HBO feels it has more than a fighting chance with the Matthew McConaughey-Woody Harrelson starrer in the top series category — even against such heatseekers as “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” “Homeland” and its own “Game of Thrones” and “Boardwalk Empire” — as well as the lead drama actor race.

“True Detective” likely would have had an easy trot to victory at the Emmycast in August in the miniseries category. The series fits the objective definition of a miniseries in that it is designed to be reinvented with an entirely new cast, setting and premise each year.

But the eight-episode drama caught fire for HBO in its January-February run, spurring pop culture buzz and critical praise for stars McConaughey and Harrelson. Some pundits even suggested that the near-universal acclaim for McConaughey’s work in “True Detective” helped the actor secure his acting Oscar win earlier this month for “Dallas Buyers Club.”

There was also strong appreciation within the creative community for the unusual approach to the series taken by creator Nic Pizzolatto, who wrote all eight hours and worked with the same director, Cary Fukunaga, for the whole run. That could easily translate to writing and directing noms for the show.

McConaughey and Harrelson are likely shoo-ins for nominations, even with the strong field of other leading men in the race. But then the question becomes whether the two would split the vote in favor of another nominee, or will McConaughey’s Oscar coattails stretch all the way to late Aug. 25 when the Emmys are handed out?

HBO would not elaborate on the decision. The pay cabler let the word out subtly Tuesday in an email message to reporters listing all the shows that it intends to submit for Emmy consideration in comedy and drama categories. The cabler has not previously sent such a formal declaration to reporters, at least not in recent memory.

Other than “True Detective,” HBO’s submission list had no surprises: “Boardwalk,” “Thrones,” “The Newsroom” and “True Blood” in drama and comedy bids for “Eastbound and Down,” “Family Tree,” “Getting On,” “Girls,” “Hello Ladies,” “Looking,” “Silicon Valley” and “Veep.”

HBO knew going in that “True Detective” would garner critical attention given its stars, but the show also flexed some muscle for the channel. The episodes averaged 11 million viewers across all HBO linear and digital platforms. The premiere telecast of the March 9 finale averaged a strong 3.5 million viewers.

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  1. West says:

    I think BB will win best Drama but Mathew and Woody will win best actor and supporting actor – even though, they are both kinda ‘lead’. Voters may feel like Bryan Cranston already has an Emmy(s) for his work in BB. I don’t think HBO is arrogant, True Detective is a series. The series title stays the same as does the writer and if you all don’t think Nic and HBO have pressure to have the next season story it be AS GOOD….wow!

  2. ken says:

    True Detectives is a miles above in writing and acting than
    Thrones, and the rest of them.

  3. Jennifer says:

    There could be an upset, certainly — McConaughey was that good. But I was already disappointed it was likely Harrelson wouldn’t get something, as he did some of his best work in that show… MMc just kinda edged him out. Now, although AHS (for example) stays in the miniseries category and TD would have blown them out of the water, they’ve managed to make sure even more deserving actors won’t have top honors to show. Just not sure what the point is, unless it’s a “go for broke” promotional thing.

  4. John says:

    Remember, Emmy awards are nominated by TV Academy members, but the winners (in the acting categories) are selected by a blue ribbon panel of experts. The panel watches each submitted episode in their category before they vote. There is every possibility that McConaughey could pull off an upset over Cranston, a la Jeff Daniels in 2013. This voting system tends to eliminate the notion of sentimental favorites.

  5. Mike says:

    Drama Series:

    Breaking Bad
    Mad Men
    Game of Thrones
    Downton Abbey
    House of Cards
    The Good Wife

    That excludes very award seeking Justified, Homeland, True Detective, Masters of Sex, The Americans, Rectify, and the (ineligible) The Returned. Too many good Dramas.
    MM will probably be nominated, but drama categories are owned by Breaking Bad.

    BB and Cranston dominated the Globes and Screen Actors Guild. Nobody has forgotten about Breaking Bad. This competition has been over for a year.

  6. oliver says:

    True Det. was great, I loved it. Breaking Bad has a huge fanbase too. Brave choice from HBO, because True Det. only had one season, B.B. had 5 in total (more supporters).

  7. lotrfan says:

    It will win every category it’s in.

  8. Suxinsu says:

    Willing to see this final fight between True Detective and Breaking Bad. I’m the founder of Suxinsu, a creative studio designing t-shirts inspired by movies and series. We have in the team a particular competition between the 2 t-shirts, and True Detective is clearly the winner. It is funny if you think about the similarities between Rust Cohle Mr. White/Heisenberg transformations in both series. Could we say that they are about the Good and the Evil and the transformation of the human being? This is the True Detective t-shirt, and we call it The Roots of the Evil, hope you like it!: http://www.suxinsu.com/blogs/news_eng/12761137-true-detective-the-first-suxinsu-t-shirt-by-toni-de-la-torre

  9. Joe says:

    Game of Thrones has the best chance to beat Breaking Bad, and it’s still not even close.

  10. Mike says:

    They’re establishing themselves in Drama Series contention for future seasons. But in doing so, they are foregoing any major wins this year.
    I mean, it has to compete with Breaking Bad. Breaking %#&-ing Bad. I’ll still be surprised if Breaking Bad doesn’t sweep the entire Drama section. True Detective was cool, but Breaking Bad is television history in the making.

  11. Edward says:

    Okay…what’s the point? To take someone else’s spot. All those dramas deserve it but arrogant HBO steps in.

  12. Mike Snyder says:

    Imagine Rust being faced with anyone throwing down a “gantlet”, whatever that is….

  13. Ali Rich says:

    This is odd. True Detective is a mini-series and would have an easy win for all concerned. I hate to see it pitted against the last (and best) season of Breaking Bad. I’ll give it a split decision: BB for series and McConaughey for actor. Without Mac’s performance, the whole thing would have fallen apart. Cranston’s was great but it was much more of an ensemble.

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