Emmys: 'True Detective' and 5 Other Nominated Series With a Conflict of Interest

Harrelson and McConaughey aren't the only co-stars going head-to-head

It's not exactly Sophie's Choice, but this year's crowded crop of Emmy nominees presents a conundrum for more than a few series.

Multiple leads are facing off against each other in some of the TV kudos' most competitive categories, and one supporting race even manages to squeeze in four actors from a single telepic. An embarrassment of riches, indeed, but in addition to potentially spreading affection for a few projects too thin, it can also be a little awkward. 

True Detective stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, both nominated, will no doubt be seated nearby when the best actor is announced. (The pair are also likely quite aware of McConaughey's favored status.) And Modern Family doesn't have as many horses in the supporting races as years past, but a close call between two co-stars remains.

One big interseries battle was already won this this past weekend, when the three-woman race among Orange Is the New Black's guest actresses went to Uzo Aduba during the Creative Arts ceremony. Still, six more prominent series, minis and movies with conflicted competition remain.

Here's a look at key battles to keep an eye on during Monday's Primetime Emmys telecast.

True Detective
Perhaps the most high-profile contest between co-stars, Harrelson and McConaughey both earned acclaim for their work on the first season of HBO's anthology drama. But McConaughey seems a favorite, still riding a the rocket of awards season buzz that brought him his first Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club. Should they split the TD vote, that will make room for potential repeat wins from Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) or Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom). Kevin Spacey is again nominated for House of Cards, and Jon Hamm will no doubt endure more talk of Mad Men's acting curse when he walks the red carpet. This marks his seventh consecutive nomination in the category.

American Horror Story: Coven
Supporting actress in a miniseries or movie contains three nominees — Frances Conroy, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett — from the FX drama, but the surprise battle comes among its leads. After two seasons as supporting status in the franchise, Sarah Paulson is up for lead in Coven. There she faces Jessica Lange, who won for the show during the first season when she was submitted as supporting herself.

Noah Hawley's mini certainly dodged a bullet by not having to face similarly structured anthology True Detective, so its biggest competition comes from within for the lead actor race. Martin Freeman, essentially the face of the FX drama, is going up against Billy Bob Thornton. The latter certainly has the weight of the critics behind him, but either could just as easily succumb to Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dancing on the Edge), Idris Elba (Luther) or Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart).

The Normal Heart
Eclipsing Orange and Horror Story, HBO's The Normal Heart has four actors (four!) in a category of six. Jim Parsons, Joe Mantello, Alfred Molina and Matt Bomer are all in the running for supporting actor in a miniseries or movie. No other acting category has such a matchup this year. The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg calls the race in favor of Bomer — but Tim Goodman writes that Fargo's Colin Hanks should win it over the entire Normal Heart group.

Modern Family
The cast of the ABC comedy has been passing Emmys around like a relay torch since Eric Stonestreet first took a supporting trophy in 2010. But Modern Family's Emmy nominations have thinned. Since 2011, when all six adult castmembers had supporting noms, only three remain this year: Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Bowen is unopposed by Sofia Vergara, but the latter two face off in the men's race — with Ferguson the only nominated Modern Family actor this year who's never gotten an individual Emmy for the show.

Downton Abbey
It may be the most-refined battle royale, but a battle it remains. Dueling Brits Maggie Smith and Joanne Froggatt are both repping Downton Abbey in drama's supporting actress race. That category also includes incumbent Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) and the latest in a thus-far-unsuccessful string of nominations for both Christine Baranski (The Good Wife) and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) — not to mention Lena Headey's first mention for Game of Thrones.