2012 Emmy preview: Where ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Mad Men’ stack up

Now that we now know the official nominations for the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards and have had a few days to let everything simmer, we now turn to the next order of business — trying to differentiate the contenders from the pretenders.

Every weekday from now until we are wrapped up with the major categories, we are going to look at a category and rank some of the nominees. We know that a lot of writers out there like to start small and work their way up to the top, but we’re operating here from a “go big or go home” sort of philosophy. With that in mind, let’s kick things off with the granddaddy of all awards that the Emmys hand out — Outstanding Drama Series. This is a trophy that has been handed to “Mad Men” for our straight years, and the real question, even more so than who would beat it, is if anyone is going to beat it at all.

Based on another stellar season, though, it’s still hard to rank any show out there above it.

The rankings

6. “Boardwalk Empire” (HBO) – Without sounding disrespectful, Steve Buscemi’s show should just be happy to be at the party over “Sons of Anarchy,” “The Good Wife,” or “Justified.” It’s not that the show had a bad season per se, but it just didn’t stand out despite having one of the most shocking season-enders in recent memory.

5. “Game of Thrones (HBO) – If this was the list of “shows we would like to see win,” there’s no question that this series, one of the best representations of fantasy ever on the small screen, would be higher. It’s so hard to make this genre work without shedding some sort of realism, and Dan Weiss and David Benioff have made it happen with a smart and shocking show that is about┬ápeople, and how absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Unfortunately, we just don’t have confidence that the Emmys are going to support the genre enough for it to win.

4. “Downton Abbey (PBS) – The British import may have led the way in nominations among drama series, but outside of Maggie Smith this could become the “Gangs of New York” of television awards — lots of recognition but no trophies to show for it. Season 2 of “Downton” way polarizing, and it will take the show’s devoted fans coming out in drones in order to make something happen here.

3. “Breaking Bad (AMC) – You know you have one of the strongest years of TV ever when “Breaking Bad’s” best season is still not enough to be considered the favorite. In many ways, though, this is the series hat we are rooting for — a dark, twisted story of a man who went from lovable to loathe-able in a slow enough span of time for us to actually believe it was happening.

The one thing working against it? Violence, especially to the extent that it is put on the screen here.

2. “Homeland” (Showtime) – Since the Emmys do not hand out any sort of trophies for second place, this is really now all about who has the best chance out of any show on TV of actually taking Don Draper down a notch. In our mind, it has to be Damian Lewis and Claire Danes. The show has the Golden Globe and the Critics’ Choice Television Award behind it, and the political nature of its content is something that voters traditionally lap up.

1. “Mad Men” (AMC) – Let’s face it — Emmy voters love this show, and there’s a good reason why — the characters are phenomenal, the writing is sharp, witty, and emotionally affecting, and the directing is some of the best on TV. This is a case of an awards darling deserving it, and until proven otherwise it’s hard to bet against what has in many ways become an Emmy sure thing.

Which show do you think should win Outstanding Drama Series? Be sure to answer in the poll below, and check out some more of our Emmy coverage by clicking on the image to the right of this article.

To view some more “Game of Thrones” season 3 casting news, be sure to follow the link here.

Photo: ABC


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