When the Emmys air Monday, HBO’s hit series “True Detective” will go head-to-head with AMC’s “Breaking Bad” in one of the closest races of the night.
The mystery crime thriller received a total of 12 nominations this year including nods for both Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Drama Series.
While that sounds fair, both shows were incredibly talked about in the past year receiving high praise from critics and fans alike, some say it makes little sense for the HBO series to be sitting alongside “Breaking Bad” during its final season.
A miniseries is based on a single theme or story line, which is resolved within the piece. In a single awards year all of the parts must be presented under the same title and have continuity of production supervision.
A miniseries consists of two or more episodes with a total running time of at least four
broadcast hours (at least 150 program minutes).
However, it also fits the definition of a drama series:
Comedy and drama series are defined as programs with multiple episodes (minimum of six), where the majority of the running time of at least six of the total eligible episodes are primarily comedic for comedy series entries, or primarily dramatic for dramatic series entries, in which the ongoing theme, storyline and main characters are presented under the same title and have continuity of production supervision.
Since day one, it’s been known “True Detective” would have a different cast and storyline every season.
It’s an unusual television format that FX’s “American Horror Story” adopted when it first aired in 2011. It’s also one that the network’s new show “Fargo,” nominated for 18 Emmys, also shares.
However, both of those shows are dueling it out in the TV movie/miniseries category.
What gives? Is HBO’s drama getting special treatment?
Vulture pointed out a closer read of the Emmy’s rules shows exactly why “True Detective” never would have been put into the miniseries category unless producers went out of their way to receive permission to run in either category.
A limited-run series with a “created by” credit CANNOT enter as a miniseries
unless the producer for the limited run series applies for and receives entitlement to dual
qualification, i.e. qualification in more than one category, because of an affirmative
determination by the Awards Committee that the limited run series has elements of both
drama series and miniseries categories.
The jarring line there is the fact that any miniseries that conveniently has a “created by” credit can’t be labelled a miniseries unless a petition is submitted.
It’s a rule that has allowed “American Horror Story” to be nominated first as a drama and later as a miniseries after it lost to “Homeland” at the 2012 Golden Globes in the drama category.
The move was met with a lot of backlash from critics who claimed the show thought it had a better chance of winning in the Outstanding TV movie or miniseries category. But honestly it seems kind of weird for a show with a revolving cast and storyline to receive the same treatment as longer dramas.
Vulture reports the only reason “Fargo” didn’t have the same issue this year is because the FX series cleverly made the decision to phrase its credit as “created for television by” instead of “created by.”
It’s a very unclear and murky way for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to deal with the nomination categories for shows.
It’s not just “True Detective” that was placed into a category that may not correctly define it. “Orange is the New Black” is being labelled as a comedy so it doesn’t go up against fellow Netflix series “House of Cards.” Showtime’s “Shameless” is also in the category after being considered a drama for three years now that award-winning “30 Rock” is over.
What’s worse is that we could very likely see “True Detective” in the miniseries category next year if there isn’t as much buzz about season 2 and it doesn’t want to go toe to toe with AMC’s “Mad Men.”
The “created by” loophole, if you will call it this, allows HBO to take advantage of a brilliant opportunity to try and take down
TV favourite “Breaking Bad” during its final Emmy run.
Think of the headlines if “True Detective” shut out “Breaking Bad” from the biggest awards of the night.
Yes, “True Detective” certainly has the legs to possibly upset the AMC show, but the bigger win for HBO may be knowing it beat out a show it passed on so many years ago all because an exec thought the series’ premise was too boring during a pitch meeting.
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