Matt Weiner Scoffs at Mad Men's 'Advantage' in Emmy Race, Names No. 1 Threat to Record 5-Peat

The Academy is still mad for Mad Men, which for a fourth straight year has garnered the most Emmy Award nominations of any drama series, with 17. The AMC series’ latest bounty – including Jon Hamm for Lead Actor, Elisabeth Moss for Lead Actress, directing and three writing bids – also make it the most-nominated basic cable drama of all time, with 85 nods to date.

TVLine spoke with series creator Matt Weiner about what it all does (and doesn’t) mean and get into what he feels could be the biggest threat to Mad Men making history with a fifth straight Best Drama win come Sept. 23.

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TVLINE | As of this morning, Mad Men became the most-nominated basic cable drama of all time. When all is said and done, what will a superlative like that mean to you?
I did not know that [fact]…. I think that, having visited other countries where they don’t even understand the difference between basic cable and broadcast and pay cable, in the future no one is even going to care about that particular statistic. [Laughs]. What I love is that we’re five seasons into it and still getting nominated; that’s really what’s been amazing.

TVLINE | Any thoughts on what episodes you’ll submit for Best Drama?
The ones that were nominated for Writing [“The Other Woman,” ” Commissions And Fees” and ” Far Away Places”] are three of our six. I assume we’ll add “Signal 30” in there, which John Slattery directed and I wrote with Frank Pierson; it was a very special episode. I guess I have to find two more!

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TVLINE | Well here’s another statistic: This is the first time all of the Emmys’ drama nominees came from cable, with not one broadcast contender. And with that comes some squawking that cable and its 13-episode format have an advantage….
Yeah…. I don’t buy any of that. There’s no advantage, no. And honestly, every single one of these shows was offered to network TV and they had no interest in them. They don’t make shows like this. It’s kind of confusing to me, because I look at it as a vertical integration for them. Viacom owns The Good Wife, The Mentalist and whatever, CBS has a bunch of shows, and Showtime is part of it. So I look at Homeland and Dexter and think these are just other divisions of broadcast TV; they don’t want to put these shows onto the networks that require the largest audience to support them. A lot of the shows throughout time – Hill Street Blues, The West Wing, L.A. Law – none of those shows would be on broadcast TV nowadays. They just have a different business model. It’s nice that they have these cable divisions, a place where you can do a show that does not need to get 20 million people. What’s even more exciting is when you do one of these shows and you actually do get that gigantic audience, even though you’re on basic cable. They could take a risk on one of these things; I don’t run their business, though. But they’re doing great!

TVLINE | So you are saying the parent corporations should find solace in the fact that any of their properties get Emmy nominations and not make it about broadcast versus cable. That “a win is a win.”
That’s how I see it, yeah. Absolutely. If I worked at Viacom I would be pretty psyched about Homeland breaking through. [Mad Men] could totally be on network TV. The smoking was the biggest problem; but there is no explicit sex and no explicit language.

TVLINE | Of course the hot topic is Mad Men facing a possible record-setting fifth straight win. What’s the biggest threat to that happening: Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones or Homeland?
You know what, that’s for other people to say. I think the biggest threat is people feel like someone else should have a chance. All I can say is that as far as we’re concerned, we did our best work this past season. I hope they don’t just, like, say, “Oh, that’s enough for them.” I hope they really look at the show.

What do you think, TVLine readers: Is Mad Men poised to five-peat? If not, which other nominated drama series will play spoiler?

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