‘True Detective’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ Battle for Best Drama Emmy

True Detective, HBO, Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey,

Source: HBO

The 66th annual Emmy Awards aren’t until August 25, but the battle for nominations is already heating up, particularly in the competitive drama category. Deadline’s Awards Columnist Pete Hammond spoke in an interview about how this year’s race for best drama series will be even more cutthroat than in the past, since HBO’s highly acclaimed True Detective surprised by entering the drama category rather than as a mini-series as some had predicted.

“The drama race is usually very competitive, this year it is uber-competitive,” Hammond said. “This is where all the money is really headed in these campaigns to just separate yourself.”

True Detective, with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson on HBO, has thrown this whole thing into chaos. We thought this would be a mini-series. It’s not; they entered it as a drama series. It’s the most acclaimed show of the year,” Hammond said. HBO has been campaigning hard for True Detective, a show that hardly even needs the effort given the pile of accolades that have been heaped on the philosophical crime drama set in Louisiana. Perhaps most significantly, many consider the show to represent a career-making performance for McConaughey, who — it’s worth noting — just won an Oscar for Dallas Buyers’ Club.

Hammond said that before True Detective went in as a drama, Breaking Bad’s final season had been the favorite to win the Emmy for best drama series, as many in the academy had wanted to honor the beloved series with a final Emmy award. Meanwhile Mad Men’s last season is one of the shows getting left in the dust with all the hoopla surrounding True Detective. “Poor little Mad Men, which has been nominated every single year, is in danger of not even being nominated this year with all the competition,” Hammond said.

Game of Thrones is another strong contender from HBO, but it could end up being cannibalized by True Detective as HBO has almost ignored promoting its incredibly popular fantasy series to the Emmy board as it focuses all its efforts on True Detective. Hammond said that’s a mistake on HBO’s part, since the current season of Game of Thrones is the series’ strongest season yet.

That cannibalization of two HBO series could lead to what Hammond referred to as “a dark horse” emerging from the somewhat surprising place of network television. While cable channels have traditionally dominated the drama category, Hammond cited CBS’s The Good Wife as a potential underdog candidate. “It was so controversial. They killed off characters; they learned to do what cable has done,” he said of the show’s sixth season.

Overall, he predicted that the trophy for best drama will come down to a battle between True Detective, the popular new kid on the block, and Breaking Bad, which has a lot of sentiment going for it since the highly acclaimed series about a school teacher turned meth dealer has only taken home one Outstanding Drama Series Emmy in its five-year run.

The 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards will be hosted by Seth Meyers and air on August 25. The nominees will be announced on July 10.

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