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The Emmy Free-for-All

Buzzy shows like ”True Detective” and ”Orange Is the New Black” are shaking up the nominations game — and that’s bad news for ”The Good Wife”

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If the networks think the Emmys have become a bore, maybe they should start televising the race before the nominations. Ever since Downton Abbey won best miniseries in 2011, more shows are taking advantage of inexact TV Academy guidelines that allow producers to pick the category they compete in (i.e., the one where they have the best chance to win). Granted, the comedy category has long had a loosey-goosey interpretation of the term “laugh riot” (see: Desperate Housewives, Weeds, Glee, and now Orange Is the New Black, an hour-long Netflix series that’ll vie for an Emmy nomination on July 10 against traditional sitcoms such as The Big Bang Theory). And this year, the drama and miniseries categories are virtually interchangeable. HBO’s anthology True Detective — which ran for a mere eight episodes — will compete in the drama category this fall, while FX’s American Horror Story (which, like Detective, changes its cast and setting every year) will stay in miniseries. At least überproducer Ryan Murphy won’t have to pit his horror series against his upcoming HBO movie, The Normal Heart, now that the Academy has split up the old movie/miniseries category. He might well win on Aug. 25 — but consider who will lose. CBS’ The Good Wife — which, five years in, is about to finish its most extraordinary, 22-episode season yet — will likely compete alongside buzzy dramas including House of Cards, which produces just 13 episodes, and sentimental favorite Breaking Bad, which ended its five-season run last fall. And now it has to battle True Detective, too? Alicia Florrick would have better luck fighting Tywin Lannister for control of Westeros. Interestingly, the TV Academy has stayed largely mum about the recent jockeying, other than issuing guarded statements via email such as this one from the senior VP of awards, John Leverence: “The producer has discretion…to enter the program and its individual achievements in any category where they are eligible. This has most recently been the case with shows that could be characterized as miniseries hybrids.” So consider that a free tip, Robert and Michelle King! Stop referring to Good Wife as a drama and call it a collection of courtroom thrillers — then you’re good as gold.