As Matthew McConaughey was accepting his Academy Award last Sunday on ABC, HBO had aired/was airing/was about to air/ (depending on your time zone) True Detective, which, like Dallas Buyers’ Club, featured a breakout performance by McConaughey.
What are the chances that that McConaughey takes home an Emmy for his performance as detective/philosopher Rust Cohle when the Emmys roll around in August? It largely depends on what category True Detective competes in.
The Emmys slice things up more finely than the Oscars, making a distinction between, say, a drama series and a comedy. And, relevant to the discussion of True Detective’s chances, a drama series and a miniseries.
True Detective breaks new ground in terms of its format. The eight episodes function as a single story with a closed story arc. The stars, McConaughey and Woody Harrelson won’t be back next season. But in its marketing campaigns, HBO has been reticent to call True Detective a mini series, because it will return next year, with writer/showrunner Nic Pizzolatto at the helm.
The closest comparable is FX’s American Horror Story, which shares a similar format, in that the name, the creative team, and a few of the actors carry over from season to season, but the characters and the setting do not. AHS straddled the line between drama series and mini series and convinced the Academy that it should be included in the less competitive mini series category.
“A miniseries is a show that has no continuing story elements or narrative elements between one group of episodes and another,” FX president John Landgraf told Entertainment Weekly in 2012. ” The TV Academy itself gave us the leeway to submit the show in either category. It basically determined that it was eligible as a miniseries. So we submitted it there.”
There was a fair amount of controversy about the decision, with everyone from potential nominees to Jimmy Kimmel arguing that AHS should compete as a drama series. (To add to the confusion: Downton Abbey competed and won as a miniseries and then moved to Drama series where it’s fared less well.)
The strategy was a mixed bag for FX. AHS was phenomenally successful in garnering nominations; In 2012 and 2013, American Horror Story received 17 nominations each year, more than any show in any category over that time period. However, it was much less successful at turning those nods into statuettes, winning only four of the 34 Emmy for which it was nominated: supporting actor wins for Jessica Lange and James Cromwell, as well as hair styling and sound editing. Some Hollywood insiders have suggested that this was a result of a backlash stemming from that nomination controversy.
Where does that leave True Detective? HBO hasn’t made a decision yet about the categories for which it will submit True Detective, and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences hadn’t responded yet to my request for comment. (And there’s still some time: the cutoff for awards consideration is in May.)
And while the series will continue, this year’s Emmys represent both a first and last chance for the nominees in the acting categories, including McConaughey, Woody Harrelson (who might compete in a supporting actor category) and Michele Monaghan (who would likely compete in best supporting actress.)
The Best Actor in a Drama category would be brutally tough even for an Oscar winner like McConaughey. Last year’s nominees included 3-time winner Bryan Cranston, defending champ Damien Lewis of Homeland, Mad Men’s Jon Hamm (a six-time nominee), Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville, Oscar winner Kevin Spacey from House of Cards, and upset winner Jeff Daniels for HBO’s The Newsroom. And all of them have a strong shot at returning this year, and the only thing that’s certain is that a number of worthy performances will go unrewarded.
In the best supporting actor in a drama category, Harrelson would likely face Emmy winners Aaron Paul (of Breaking Bad) and Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones as well as Homeland’s Mandy Patinkin. Michele Monaghan, who plays Marty’s ex-wife Maggie, would be a very strong contender for best supporting actress, but would likely face Anna Gunn from Breaking Bad, Maggie Smith of Downton Abbey, and perennial nominee Christina Hendricks of Mad Men.
It’s not clear what the competition will be in the mini-series category, it almost certainly represents an easier path to an Emmy. (While the Academy has again separated Best Miniseries from Best TV Movie, in the acting categories, those two genres remain together.)
And their feature-film-laden resumes would likely help the True Detective trio. Among the winners for Best Actor in a miniseries over the last decade: Michael Douglas, Kevin Costner, Al Pacino, Paul Giamatti, Robert Duval, Jeffrey Rush and William H. Macy.
Will 2014 see Matthew McConaughey added to that star-studded list? And get the opportunity to make an iconoclastic acceptance speech? [OP- PLEASE GAWD] That’s probably up to HBO, and the Academy.
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I am not ready for TD to end ;_____________________;