Emmys Circuit: Best Drama Series

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Emmys

Welcome to the final Emmys Circuit before Emmy nominations are announced bright and early on Thursday, July 10. Check out my final predictions for all above-the-line categories tomorrow, July 8 and check out Clayton’s final predictions later this week. Also, don’t forget to check out all the previous Emmys Circuits so you’re fully informed on all categories before nominations are announced!

We finish Emmys Circuit with Best Drama Series.

…and the 2013 Nominees were:

BREAKING BADwinner

DOWNTON ABBEY

GAME OF THRONES

HOMELAND

HOUSE OF CARDS

MAD MEN

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Last year, we saw AMC’s masterful Breaking Bad finally win Best Drama Series, ending its unfortunate reign as the “Best TV Show Not To Win Best Drama Series.” Showtime’s Homeland nearly made it back-to-back with a sextet of great submission tapes, but had to “settle” for Drama Writing and Best Drama Actress. Despite a much-buzzed wedding episode, the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones couldn’t manage more than a ton of nominations. Netflix’s A-list House of Cards became the first streaming series nominated for TV’s top prize, and won Best Directing. Four-time champion Mad Men and the only show in this list that your mom watches, PBS’ Downton Abbey rounded out last year’s race. Most notably, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and CBS’ The Good Wife were left on the sideline.

It’s important to note, too, that this race allows for seven nominees if the seventh-place vote-getter is within two percentage points of the sixth place series. So, while I’ll be predicting six nominees, be on the lookout for a total of seven…and given the strength of television drama, seven nominees wouldn’t be an embarrassment.

Of the 2013 nominees, all six drama series are eligible to return.

The Contenders:

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BREAKING BAD
Last year, Breaking Bad won its first Drama Series Emmy for arguably its weakest outing for the first half of its fifth season. If it could win for that season, I don’t see how it could miss for this half season. After airing its series finale, it won the Golden Globe, the SAG Ensemble, PGA, WGA, DGA, and most recently, CCTA. Need I say more?

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MAD MEN
Despite how many hits Mad Men takes in below-the-line or acting races, one category in which I’m positive AMC’s erstwhile juggernaut will remain is Drama Series. Even when shows in the past have missed critical acting and writing nominations late in their runs (The West Wing, The Sopranos), they remained in the top race. I expect this four-time winner to vie for its fifth win.

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GAME OF THRONES
While the fourth season of TV’s most unlikely prestige drama lacked the zomg moment in its ninth episode, it nevertheless was on everyone’s lips throughout its run. Either courting controversy, another wedding death, or giants, Game of Thrones is a hit. I expect the TV Academy to know something, Jon Snow.

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TRUE DETECTIVE
Call it a mini-series. Call it, somehow, a drama series. Either way, HBO’s detective anthology is getting into Drama Series for its first season and the only season with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Indeed, while I’m ultimately quite skeptical on how the TV Academy will treat a drama series it knows isn’t going to return in any way, shape, or form next year, its praise was undeniable. What a joy it will be watching True Detective and Breaking Bad have an instant classic battle royal for Best Drama Series and Best Drama Actor.

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HOMELAND
Just two years ago, Showtime’s Homeland won a much deserved Emmy for Best Drama Series. In fact, it was likely a few votes shy of winning last year. The third season of the domestic espionage thriller, however, began to show signs of cracking in the exterior. Perhaps it was a loose façade all along, but regardless, this season had poor reviews and few fans. It’s not beyond the Emmys to nominate a despised season (it nominated Will & Grace for many loathed seasons), but they haven’t done so recently.

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DOWNTON ABBEY
The first three seasons of Downton Abbey were a cultural phenomenon. However, the fourth season seemed to land, and leave, with little pomp or circumstance. No much-buzzed twists. No heart-breaking death. I’m not sure if voters remain enthralled with the trials and tribulations of the Crawley clan.

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THE GOOD WIFE
Normally, I would dismiss those predicting CBS’ The Good Wife as foolish. I mean, the network drama hasn’t been nominated in Drama Series for two years. And the last TV show to be re-nominated after 2 seasons of snubbage was ABC’s Lost. Since the Best Drama Series lineups have expanded beyond 5, it’s never happened. But…it seems the reviews are in. People love this season of The Good Wife. But will the TV Academy return to a show it gave one above-the-line nomination in 2013? I remain very skeptical.

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HOUSE OF CARDS
The second season to my favorite Drama Series of the 2012-2013 season debuted on Netflix back in January to a disparate range of reviews. Some people think the second season of Frank Underwood’s vice presidential shenanigans is the best thing on TV, and yet others think House of Cards as landed rather swiftly in a rut. Nevertheless, I expect the A-list draw of Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey will keep it treading water in the top race.

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MASTERS OF SEX
If a show other than True Detective is going to nab its first Drama Series nomination, it could be Showtime’s Masters of Sex. Great reviews and a strong fan base could help this show, especially given the new rules. While I wouldn’t be shocked it see it in, it would need support across other categories such as costumes, writing, and acting to show up here, I think.

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BOARDWALK EMPIRE
Once upon a time, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire was the heir apparent to Mad Men’s Drama Series throne. However, it was never meant to be. Despite constantly solid reviews and a surprising acting win last year, the overall TV Academy reception to this show is unpredictable. Wouldn’t completely shock me to see it nominated again.

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DEXTER
Obligatory inclusion of a former nominee in this category. Clearly, it’ll be a shock if Showtime’s once-beloved cult hit were nominated anywhere, let alone Best Drama Series. Nevertheless.

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THE AMERICANS
Never say never. People called the second season a strong improvement over the first. Yet FX’s The Americans was little loved by the TV Academy last year.

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THE BLACKLIST
I mean, if they’re dying to throw some love back onto network dramas, NBC’s The Blacklist certainly has the ratings to justify a strong contingent behind it. Nevertheless, very unlikely for a procedural to make it in this race nowadays.

Predicted Nominees, In Order Of Nomination Likelihood (NOT winning likelihood):

 1. Breaking Bad
2. True Detective
3. Mad Men
4. Game of Thrones
5. House of Cards
6. The Good Wife

So did I forget anyone? Where am I wrong? Speak to me, Emmy gurus!