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Emmys 2013: Top show runners discuss ups, downs of award season

The common refrain during awards season is that it's an honor to be nominated; the reality is perhaps a bit more complicated than that.

At the recent Envelope Emmy Roundtable moderated by The Times' Martin Miller, five top show runners — Alex Gansa of "Homeland," Terence Winter of "Boardwalk Empire," David Benioff of "Game of Thrones," Glen Mazzara of "The Walking Dead" and Vince Gilligan of "Breaking Bad" — talked about the perks and pitfalls of awards-season attention.

"Why one show wins over another is something I will never understand.... The reason we did, it's unknowable," said Gansa, whose show won Emmys for drama, actress, actor and writing last year.

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One of the benefits of winning, of course, is that "more people tune into the show, and that's really the bottom line," Gansa said. "We're all trying to do great television shows, but we also want to capture an audience."

And yet, heavy lies the crown. Gansa added that awards-season success can raise the expectations of a show. "We were put up on the pedestal on Season 1, and I think we were knocked off a little bit, critically, in Season 2," he said, "but truthfully, we built an audience all season long and, ultimately, that was because of the awards season that we had."

Winter, whose show won Emmys for directing in 2011 and 2012, spoke of another plus: "You also get a lot of really cool free stuff around the awards season," he said with a chuckle. "I'm not going to lie that that's not also cool."

For more on awards season, including Benioff, Mazzara and Gilligan's thoughts on whether Emmy voters are biased against genre shows, check out the video. And check back during the week for more video highlights and a transcript of the conversation.

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