Emmys: HBO's 'True Detective' to Compete in Fierce Drama Series Category

True Detective Harrelson McConaughey Finale Still - H 2014
Lacey Terrell/HBO

True Detective Harrelson McConaughey Finale Still - H 2014

One last mystery surrounding HBO’s juggernaut crime series True Detective has been solved. The Hollywood Reporter has learned that for this year’s Emmys the network plans to submit creator Nic Pizzolatto’s gritty gothic crime saga for best drama series consideration instead of in the recently reinstated miniseries category -- despite the show’s anthology format and abbreviated first season of only eight episodes.

True Detective, which has netted HBO giant ratings with an average 11 million viewers across platforms, is also the network’s most critically acclaimed drama as of late. It's anchored, of course, by its two movie-star leads: Woody Harrelson, also a producer on the show, and this year's best actor Oscar winner for Dallas Buyers Club, Matthew McConaughey. (True Detective will have a different cast and storyline in season two.)

TV REVIEW: True Detective

If HBO had chosen to submit it for miniseries, which the TV Academy announced on Feb. 20 was being broken away -- again -- from its made-for-TV movies competitors, True Detective would have seemed a lock for a win against lighter genre fare like FX’s American Horror Story: Coven (the Asylum installment of the franchise earned 17 Emmy noms last year, the most of any program), which has yet to win, though star Jessica Lange took home a trophy for the first season. HBO has scored more than a dozen wins for made-for-TV movies and miniseries in the last decade, including for last year’s Behind the Candelabra and 2012’s Game Change.

The drama series category at the Emmys, consistently the most crowded and competitive, was already poised for a shakeup this year.

Even though last year’s winner, AMC’s Breaking Bad, is eligible for one final Emmy haul (its last eight episodes aired in August, well after last year’s late-May deadline), the series will have been off the air for an entire year by the time the voters consider it in phase two of voting this summer.

PBS/Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey has yet to net a drama series win despite two nominations in the category, and HBO’s own Game of Thrones is facing its fourth round of contention. And of course AMC's four-time winner Mad Men has seen its stock fall in recent years with fewer overall nominations and consecutive defeats at the hands of Homeland and Breaking Bad.

HBO’s two other entrants for drama series -- The Newsroom and Boardwalk Empire -- didn’t make the cut for last year’s competition. And the network will still submit True Blood in the category, though the outgoing drama has not been nominated since 2010.

Which leaves Netflix’s House of Cards as Detective’s chief competition in the drama series category, as the second season of the political thriller was posted on Feb. 14 and earned overall positive buzz.

McConaughey is the only Academy Award winner this year to also topline an Emmy-contending series. This can only give True Detective more of an edge as voters begin to consider the hundreds of competitors battling it out in this year’s Emmys race.