A couple of detectives could break a meth kingpin's winning high when the Emmy statuettes are handed out on August 25.
"True Detective," the limited series from HBO starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson landed a berth in the best drama series category and lead actor drama nods for both actors when the Emmy nominations were handed down Thursday morning.
The critically acclaimed "Detective" offers up serious competition for the final season of AMC's beloved "Breaking Bad," which also sits in the drama series race alongside "House of Cards" from Netflix, PBS period drama "Downton Abbey," AMC's "Mad Men," and HBO's hit fantasy series "Game of Thrones," which leads overall with 19 nominations.
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Noticeably absent from the field were CBS' "The Good Wife" (star Julianna Margulies scored a deserved nod for lead actress drama), and NBC's "The Blacklist" (TV's highest-rated new drama and lead James Spader saw no love from the Television Academy.) Drama snubs also went to "The Americans" (FX), 2012 category winner "Homeland" and ratings juggernaut "The Walking Dead" (AMC).
For lead actor in a drama series, "Breaking Bad's" Bryan Cranston must overcome McConaughey and Harrelson, as well as "Mad Men's" Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey for "House of Cards," and last year's winner, Jeff Daniels for "The Newsroom."
If McConaughey takes the statuette, he'll be the first man ever to win both a lead actor Emmy and an Oscar in the same year. He was handed the Academy Award for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club" in March. (The only woman to achieve the feat is Helen Hunt, who was awarded a lead actress Emmy for "Mad About You" and an Oscar for "As Good As It Gets" in 1998.)
And while HBO was riding high with a haul of noms for "Thrones" and "True Detective," the lack of laughs in the most recent season saw previously lauded "Girls" pushed from the big comedy series race, though star Lena Dunham made the cut for lead actress in a comedy and Adam Driver was named to the supporting actor category.
Replacing "Girls" in the series race is the Netflix upstart "Orange Is the New Black" – a big winner at the recent Critics Choice Awards. Also new to the category is "Silicon Valley," the HBO series about tech geeks from creator Mike Judge ("Office Space," "King of the Hill").
ABC's "Modern Family" is the one to beat in this competition. Up for an historic fifth consecutive Emmy win – "Frazier" is the only series to have reached that milestone – it must face down not only the newbies, but also "Veep" (HBO), "Louie" (FX) and TV's highest rated comedy, "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS).
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine," the Fox network cop comedy starring Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher was left out in the cold, despite previous Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award wins. Small consolation: Braugher is up for a best supporting actor in a comedy Emmy.
"Orange Is the New Black" star Taylor Schilling finds herself in competition for lead actress in a comedy series with last year's winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep"), Dunham, Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation"), Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie") and Melissa McCarthy ("Mike & Molly").
An unlikely comedy set in a women's prison, "OITNB" also scored in the supporting actress race with Kate Mulgrew, and earned three guest actress nods for Natasha Lyonne, Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox.
Though Emmy showered major love on fantasy saga "Game of Thrones," the sci-fi/fantasy BBC drama "Orphan Black" remained on the outs, inlcuding star Tatiana Maslany. Maslany's turn as mulitple characters cloned from the same being has received critical acclaim as well as numerous awards, including a Critics Choice.
One of the biggest snubs, though perhaps not the most glaring considering its on-air and award show longevity, is that for the first time 20 years "The Simpsons" was not named to the outstanding animated program field. It made way for the excellent "Archer" (FX), but it's certainly a shock to the Fox network, and the loyal fans of the denizens of Springfield.
Watch the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards live on Monday, August 25 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on NBC