HBO’s hit new show True Detective might have been one of the most talked about and critically acclaimed series of last year, but the philosophical detective story starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson has yet to win big in the awards show department.
After a surprise upset at the Emmys last year which left the show empty-handed in the bigger categories despite being considered a frontrunner for both Best Actor and Best Drama Series, HBO has changed tack with entering the series in the Golden Globes as a miniseries rather than a drama. This move, however, could end up leaving what many consider to be the best show of last year without any trophies again and make one of the most inventive new shows in years pack up its bags and go home essentially award-less.
Before Emmy nominations were announced, critics were unsure whether True Detective would go in as a drama or a miniseries. The anthology format is relatively new and at that time details were pretty sketchy about the show’s prospects of a second season. The miniseries category seemed by far a safer bet for the show to win, given that the Emmy favorite Breaking Bad was in its final season. Due to the anthology format and the Breaking Bad competition, most thought True Detective would go in as a miniseries.
Then HBO decided to go big or go home and entered the show in the drama category anyway and it lost in the major categories to Breaking Bad. The show only took home trophies for directing, cinematography, casting, non-prosthetic makeup, and its title sequence.
Some critics lamented the faulty logic on the part of the Emmy voters, pointing out that Breaking Bad has already been honored many times by the academy, including for the first half of its last season last year. The first season of True Detective will never get another chance to win an Emmy. McConaughey’s breathtaking portrayal of the nihilistic hyper-intelligent Rust Cohle will never get another Emmy nomination even though it’s considered to be a major part of the actor’s career reinvention that took place last year.
HBO does have a chance to do the awards thing again with season one of True Detective at the Golden Globes, which are the next-biggest ceremony honoring TV and are widely watched due to being an indicator for the Oscars and for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who we can only hope will become the ceremony’s permanent hosts. The question now is whether the show can beat the miniseries frontrunner that many critics have called the best show of the year: FX’s Fargo.
Fargo has much in common with True Detective. Both series are dark crime stories with an anthology format and two big-name actors leading the bill. They both landed near the top of many critics’ year-end top 10 lists, but Fargo is actually coming out on top more frequently than True Detective. NPR critic Eric Deggans echoed the sentiment of many critics in saying that True Detective’s rushed ending was its weakest point and prevented it from being the best show of 2014.
True Detective is going up against Fargo for best TV movie or miniseries. Similar to the Emmys, both Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are nominated for best lead actor, but they are up against Fargo’s Billy Bob Thornton. True Detective’s Michelle Monaghan got a nod for best supporting actress, but given that True Detective’s writing was widely criticized for its flat portrayals of women, her performance will likely be overlooked.
The drama category, however, is looking less competitive. The new arena of miniseries and anthology series has been fertile breeding ground for creativity in what critics are referring to as television’s golden era. The nominees for best drama series at the Golden Globes are Downton Abbey, The Affair, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and The Good Wife. While all of those shows received acclaim in their own right, none of them were met with the critical fervor of Fargo and True Detective. Had True Detective been entered in the drama category this time, it likely would’ve swept the floor with the competition. Going in as a miniseries this time actually puts the show up against stronger competition with Fargo.
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