Predicting the Emmy Awards isn't always an easy task, but it's certainly fun to speculate over the nominees, which is what we did for the Outstanding Drama Series category. Arguments can really be made for or against all of the nominees in the category. There are six nominated dramas, and as it happens, some of us here at Cinema Blend were able to come up with solid arguments as to why some of these dramas deserve to win this year. And then there are the dramas that might not be so deserving, either for the win or even the nomination.
We'll start with the shows we think deserve to win, in no particular order…
Breaking Bad - Deserves to win.
We might try to put aside the fact that Breaking Bad has been nominated three times previously and has yet to actually win the award, a feat fellow AMC drama Mad Men has accomplished four times already (twice against Breaking Bad). But it seems impossible not to first ask, "How is it possible that Breaking Bad, arguably one of the best dramas to exist in the last decade, has not won an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series yet?" With that said, being due is not reason enough to earn the award, unfortunately. So let's instead look at why Breaking Bad deserves to win Outstanding Drama Series for last year's run.
Breaking Bad has proven to be one of the better paced series out there, somehow managing to steadily escalate in suspense and drama without going overboard or as they say, "jumping the shark." We could go on at length as to how, but focusing specifically on the first half of Season 5, "Dead Freight" alone should be reason enough to reward the series for its greatness in the Drama category. Looking at Season 5A as a whole, the story took us into a post-Gus era for Walter White, who reached the top of the "empire" mountain only to find himself slipping down the other side in what could be the start of a fretful descent for a man who set out to make money and developing a taste for power in the process. Attempts to move forward and branch out with his meth-making business by taking it global came at an expense Walt and Jesse may not have been prepared to pay, leaving their relationship fractured -- possibly beyond repair -- as the season came to its mid-point. If we were to to factor in Season 5B, there are even more arguments to be made for why Breaking Bad is Emmy-worthy as a series, citing "Ozymandias" in particular as an example of truly "Outstanding" television, but that's for next year's Emmys to consider. In the meantime, on quality, Breaking Bad tops every other drama in its category this year, which is reason enough to give it the prize.
House of Cards - Deserves to win.
There are some forward-thinking observers out there who want House Of Cards to win Best Drama in order to become a symbol for the entire industry as to how much viewing habits have changed. No doubt, a victory for the Netflix-funded program dropped in one giant chunk would shake up the status quo a bit, but in all honesty, that’s not what the Emmys should be about. They should be about rewarding the best show, regardless of format or potential message. Luckily for House Of Cards, however, the David Fincher project was actually the best thing television had to offer last season.
Following the manipulative and sometimes even vicious US Representative Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his non-profit mogul wife Claire (Robin Wright), House Of Cards spins a web more morally complex and intriguing than anything we’ve seen on the small screen for years. It’s format, with Frank direct addressing the camera on occasion, takes a few episodes to get used to, but its crisp writing and multi-layered stories are obvious from the first moment forward. Nothing is simple in Washington DC, and while the politicians might claim a higher moral ground, it takes a relentless intensity and willingness to take the low road to get things done. House Of Cards might not have a timeslot or even a network, but the way it makes viewers feel during its best moments is a legacy it shares with the best programs in TV history.
Game of Thrones - Deserves to win
Hate to break the bad news to you mad ladies and gentlemen but (that’s enough, you get it and Downton Abbey is nearly impossible to work into this) Game of Thrones deserves to win the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. It may be almost impossible take this argument seriously after that but please try, mostly because the HBO fantasy’s third season was a stunning achievement and the show delivers on so many fronts. It is the most complete package on television. Game of Thrones not only features fantastic drama but also exquisite and (Creative Arts) Emmy winning special effects and makeup, not to mention beautiful costumes and expertly choreographed action sequences.
But if you want to just talk ‘drama,’ GoT has also got the best and boldest storytelling and characterization on television. The nominated writers, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, have condensed George R.R. Martin’s epic series with amazing efficiency and without losing any of the source materials detail or surprises, a.k.a. killing off the main characters. And the supporting characters. The end of ”The Rains of Castamere” will likely be what most people remember about Season 3 but it also contained so many other brilliant stories, from Jaime and Brienne’s perilous journey to Daenerys rise to power a half a made up world away. And finally, Game of Thrones features phenomenal performances from everyone in a giant (Hodor) ensemble. Emilia Clarke, Diana Rigg and Peter Dinklage (again) all nabbed nods but let’s hope they all (cast and crew) get recognized with an ‘Outstanding Drama’ win.
Downton Abbey - Deserves to win.
Downton Abbey’s charm lies in its period costumes, lingo, and decorum, and its intricate portrayal of different social roles in the early twentieth century. Featuring a high-end cast that includes Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, and Michelle Dockery, the drama has managed to be a hit on both sides of the pond and has cleaned up at the Emmy’s in the past, which was a bit of a surprise to everyone last season when the program switched from the miniseries to the series category. The show is a crowd pleaser, and it was even more so during its third season, which means there’s no reason to think Downton Abbey can’t continue to compete against some of TV’s best at this year’s Emmy Awards.
We’ve dealt with the drama of war and some ever-evolving plotlines on Downton Abbey, but there’s been nothing that hit audiences quite as hard as the heartbreak in the show’s third season. Characters died and relationships changed, but the show’s most compelling promise has been its backdrop of social change, a concept that is rarely directly addressed but comes to the forefront through characters like Tom Branson and through the Crawley family’s faltering acquaintances. Downton Abbey, like the world in the 1920s, is always pushing forward, and it brings new ideas to the table every time it does, making the series the freshest program on television--despite its stuffy period status.
Mad Men - Great show, but doesn't deserve to win this year.
Don Draper, so suave and sharp when we first met him in 1960, is becoming an old man by Mad Men's sixth season set in 1968. On one level the show knows this, contrasting Don's old-fashioned ways with his younger wife Megan and even his daughter Sally. But the sixth season of Mad Men also suffered terribly by standing by Don Draper, who was once again cheating and once again coming up with brilliant ways to bring in business, but seemed completely removed from the actual compelling narratives of the show. Introducing characters like Bob Benson, and following Peggy Olson through her own ill-fated affair, Mad Men kept suggesting ways to expand its story beyond the enigmatic moods of Don Draper, then reverting right back to Don's increasingly wheel-spinning story. The season finale, in which Don deliberately blew the Hershey's pitch and was forced into a leave of absence from the company, seemed to suggest a willingness to move beyond him-- but then the episode ended with him showing his kids the brothel he grew up in, another dip into the Dick Whitman well of diminishing returns. Mad Men is still a good show, but an Emmy win for this myopic season would send its creators the wrong message as it heads into its final 14 episodes.
Homeland - Great show but shouldn't have been nominated in the first place.
There are more than a few series (like Boardwalk Empire or The Americans, to name a few) that deserve Homeland’s Outstanding Drama nomination so much more than last year’s winner. They should have done what they did to Lost, give it the trophy for the excellent first season and then (in this case, rightfully) snub it the following year. Okay, it’s still a fine drama but outstanding, it is not. Homeland does features three outstanding performances, however, there was a significant drop in the quality of the storytelling between Seasons 1 and 2. Well, more like five or so episodes into last season, right about when the kids in the Showtime (spy romance, family melo)drama committed vehicular homicide.
Of course, carping about the small narrative diversion into the daughter’s ridiculous troubles might seem like nitpicking with a show that is so consistently intense and features stellar turns from nominees Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin (Rupert Friend was also nominated for his guest spot) but this award is for the best drama and a few of Homeland’s competitors are pretty much perfection. The Golden Globes, however, named the second season the ‘Best Television Series - Drama,’ so there’s obviously a lot of critics who were still captivated by the events. They certainly wouldn’t call it a ‘sophomore slump.’ Then again, the Globes nominated The Tourist for ‘Best Picture, Musical or Comedy,’ they’re clearly clueless. Homeland is a good show (even great, at times) but it isn’t the year’s most ‘Outstanding Drama.’
Which series do you want to win Outstanding Drama at this year's Emmys?