Emmys 2014: ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘True Detective’ among drama series nominees

‘Breaking Bad’
Aaron Paul, left, and Bryan Cranston appear in a scene from the final season of “Breaking Bad.”
(Frank Ockenfels / AMC)

The Emmys are sticking with the familiar in the drama series category.

On Thursday, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences nominated just one newcomer, “True Detective,” for drama series, along with returning favorites “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” “Game of Thrones,” “Downton Abbey” and “House of Cards.” For the third straight year, broadcast television was entirely shut out of the category.

The inclusion of defending champ “Breaking Bad” was virtually a foregone conclusion. The series, which stars multiple Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston as a high school teacher who turns to manufacturing crystal meth to pay for his cancer treatment, concluded its five-season run on AMC last fall to ecstatic acclaim and record ratings. 

Less certain, if not exactly surprising, was the nomination for HBO’s moody anthology series “True Detective.” The network made a calculated risk by entering the Louisiana-set mystery as a drama series, even though many regard it as a miniseries (each new season will feature an entirely different story, cast and setting). The first season starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as a mismatched pair of cops on the trail of a serial killer, and enjoyed high ratings, critical adoration and resounding buzz. HBO Go, the network’s online streaming portal, crashed due to an overload of users tuning in to watch the season finale in March. 


This marks the fourth nomination in a row for the fantasy epic “Game of Thrones,” based on the series of novels by George R.R. Martin. The lavishly violent series has been a massive ratings hit for HBO and won numerous Emmys for its makeup, costumes and visual effects, but has yet to claim the big prize.

The Netflix political thriller “House of Cards,” which stars Kevin Spacey as a ruthless majority-whip-turned-vice president and Robin Wright as his scheming wife, made history last year by becoming the first series distributed solely via the Internet to be nominated for drama series. This is the second straight nomination for “House of Cards,” which is based on a British drama of the same name.

The once-dominant “Mad Men” also eked out a nomination, despite airing just seven episodes this year. The four-time drama series winner, which is set in the 1960s ad world and follows the story of tortured creative executive Don Draper (Jon Hamm), will return to AMC next spring for its final seven episodes.  

Rounding out this year’s batch of nominees is the PBS costume drama, “Downton Abbey.” The British ensemble series, about a tragedy-prone aristocratic family and their fleet of servants, airs in the United States as part of the “Masterpiece” program. It continues to be a ratings winner for the public broadcaster, with the third season finale earning 8.5 million viewers.


A rule change implemented this year allowed for a seventh nominee in the outstanding drama and comedy categories in case of a voting difference of less than 2%, but academy members seem to have settled on just six nominees.  

This left both 2012 winner “Homeland” and the CBS legal drama “The Good Wife,” which enjoyed a renewed round of praise for its most recent season, out in the cold. Also overlooked were critical darlings “Orphan Black” and “The Americans,” and the well-received freshman series “Masters of Sex” on Showtime.

The Emmys will be broadcast live on Aug. 25 on NBC. The ceremonies, which are being held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, will be hosted by Seth Meyers.  

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