2012 Emmy preview: ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ Drama Series contenders

There can only be six.

Now that we have went through all of the major comedy nominations during our 2012 Emmy preview series (we will have more on the guest roles in the weeks ahead), we now turn to a category that already has spawned some pretty intense debates — Oustanding Drama Series.

While this category is always competitive, this may be one of the few times where there seem to be five shows that are pretty much considered locks to be nominated — and from there, it’s really anyone’s game as to who could win. There’s not much difference this time between what should be nominated and what will, but it is going to be exciting to see how this all plays out.

It's still a favorite (AMC)

The deserving nominees

“Mad Men” (AMC) – At a certain point in time, it becomes easy to be cynical about a show after multiple wins to the point where you hope it loses. We just can’t bring ourselves to do this with “Mad Men” after a pretty tremendous season 5. It’s been a bold season, in particular when it comes to executive producer Matthew Weiner’s decision to bring Don’s new wife, Megan, into the forefront, and also show Joan pretty much sell her body in order to become a partner in SCDP.

“Breaking Bad” (AMC) – If there is a show with the potential to defeat “Mad Men” this year and keep it from five straight trophies, it has to be “Breaking Bad“. Bryan Cranston is always sensational, and this entire season was both a thrill ride and a stellar game of cat-and-mouse between Walter White and Gus that culminated into one of the most shocking season finale we’ve ever seen. In a way, we are still recovering almost a year later.

“Homeland” (Showtime) – The only thing that may hurt “Homeland” when it comes to winning is that season 1 aired months ago — and unlike “Breaking Bad,” it’s not being promoted for a new season yet. It’s unfortunate since this is one of the smartest drama series to ever come on television, and it takes a look at the world of counter-terrorism in a way that is both shocking and spellbinding.

“Game of Thrones” (HBO) – It’s crazy to think, but season 2 of “Game of Thrones” was even better than season 1 — and it proved that you can be a stellar show with dozens of characters without marginalizing any of them. The only thing that could hold the show back is that the Emmys rarely love fantasy enough to give it a win, and they (like us) may feel that the season felt too short as a whole.

“Downton Abbey” (PBS) – Meanwhile, season 2 of “Downton Abbey” was a bit more controversial than its first go-around, and not everyone loved what happened with some of the characters. Personally, we still feel like this is the most impeccably-acted show on television, from Elizabeth McGovern to Maggie Smith straight on down. It will probably not win the top prize, but it could make things interesting.

“Sons of Anarchy” (FX) – For people solely interested in nominations, it is really this sixth and final spot that will be interesting. Will Emmy voters finally give “Sons of Anarchy” its due, or focus instead on a show that has been a familiar face in the past? We unfortunately think that Kurt Sutter’s comments in the past have probably scared away too many voters for the show to be nominated, but quality-wise it’s closer to the other five nominees than anything else on TV.

Honorable mentions: “Revenge” (ABC), “Boardwalk Empire” (HBO), “The Walking Dead” (AMC), “House” (FOX), “Pan Am” (ABC)

The show returning could help voting (AMC)

The likely nominees

Rather than just repeating ourselves five times over, you can take our five deserving nominees and plug them all in here. “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” and “Homeland” are as close to locks as locks can be, and we feel pretty confident about “Downton Abbey” and “Game of Thrones.” But where do the Emmys go from here?

“The Good Wife” (CBS) – Why, they go to Julianna Margulies! Matthew Perry’s late-season arc aside, we didn’t find season 3 to be the most engaging work the series has done — but the Emmys love a good legal drama, and they often like to have at least one American-made show from a major broadcast network nominated. Therefore, don’t be surprise if this gets the love.

Likely to receive votes: “Boardwalk Empire,” “Justified” (FX), “Dexter” (Showtime), “Sons of Anarchy,” “Smash” (NBC)

Who’s your pick to win Outstanding Drama Series this year? As always, we want to hear from you! Be sure to answer in the comment box as well as the poll below.

Photo: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences


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