Emmy Nominations: Newcomers Shine as Netflix Increases Footprint and HBO Still Reigns

Lacey Terrell/HBO
"True Detective"

"Orange Is the New Black" and "True Detective" may dominate the conversation, though "Fargo" makes the biggest play as "Mad Men" retains a strong presence and "Homeland" bows out of the drama race.

Those who were expecting big surprises during Thursday morning's Emmy nominations were probably disappointed. The list reads like a who's who of critically favored charmers from the last year. But that's not to say it's business as usual — anything but.

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New efforts make a strong showing with FX miniseries Fargo making the biggest impression with 18 nominations, only one shy of all-around leader Game of Thrones. Fargo's footprint — which includes outstanding miniseries and acting recognition for Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks and Allison Tolman — dwarfs the other big new entries (Orange Is the New Black and True Detective), thanks in large part to the smaller field in the miniseries categories.

Orange's debut might be the most significant. The Netflix series nets a rare appearance for a one-hour in the best comedy category while bolstering the streamer's considerable presence at the awards after last year's House of Cards debut. It tops all other TV comedies in total nominations with 12. And outside of a series nom and a lead mention for star Taylor Schilling, three members of Orange's sprawling supporting cast scored nods in the guest actress category: Natasha Lyonne, Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox.

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It's a huge win for Netflix, which netted 31 total nominations this year, though all nets and platforms still bow down to HBO. The cable network brought in 99 nominations this year, more than doubling its closest competition (CBS' 47). And unlike years past, series (not minis and telepics) did most of the legwork.

HBO's play to put anthology series True Detective into the drama categories (instead of miniseries, like contemporary American Horror Story: Coven) seems to have worked out nicely, with its 12 nominations (including a series nom) trailing only flagship drama Game of Thrones and telepic The Normal Heart for the network. Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey go head-to-head for lead actor, as expected, with the latter still riding a wave of awards goodwill from his Oscar-winning turn in Dallas Buyers Club.

Breaking Bad remains the show to beat in the outstanding drama series category despite having been off the air for a year. Last year's big winner — which usurped 2014 no-show Homeland for top drama honors — still has a great many fans, as evidenced by its 16 nominations. Actors Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn — all past winners for their roles — each make appearances in their respective categories.

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Elsewhere in drama, Homeland is still in the picture. Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin both make appearances in the acting categories, but the bloom is decidedly off the rose with no series mention. The same can't yet be said for Mad Men. Despite a shutout for the former champ last year, AMC's outgoing drama is still in the game with eight nominations, including a best series nod. Rounding out the top drama category are Downton AbbeyGame of Thrones and House of Cards.

Four-time comedy champ Modern Family faces its toughest battle yet this year. With more actors (Sofia Vergara and Ed O'Neill) falling off the list, its 10 overall mentions are outshone by Orange's — with Veep nipping at its heels as well. And Orange is not the only new blood in the race. HBO freshman Silicon Valley is up for outstanding comedy, with Girls absent, as Veep, Louie and The Big Bang Theory join Modern Family in returning.

American Horror Story remains a force to be reckoned with in the mini categories, even more so now that they have split with TV movies. Its 17 nominations are equal to last year, even against the new competition from Fargo. As for the TV movies, now a category of its own, HBO's The Normal Heart leads (with many acting nods on the line) — though the return of a long-absent Sherlock may give it a run for its money.