Like the best comedy series category at the 61st annual Primetime Emmys, the best drama series category has seven nominees. Unlike the comedy competition, though, the field is a lot tighter.
“Mad Men” won last year, and because it’s the Emmys, you should never underestimate the ability of voters to repeat themselves. But as with the comedy series category, the fact that there are seven nominees — the result of the TV academy expanding the field to six nominees and a tie adding the seventh — means that a show can win without anything even close to a majority of votes.
“Mad Men”: AMC’s drama won best drama after its first season and, in my mind, was even better in its second. Note-perfect performances and some of the most sharply drawn characters around make this show TV’s best.
“Lost”: Has any show in recent memory made a bigger course correction than “Lost”? I can’t think of one. Season five kept the quality high, even while incorporating a mind-bending time-hopping story line.
“Breaking Bad”: Bryan Cranston’s amazing work in the lead role is what drives “Breaking Bad,” but the way the show deepened the rest of its characters this year is really what made it work.
“Dexter”: Fans weren’t quite as sold on season three of Showtime’s killer drama as they had been in the past, and it’s probably too unapologetic about its twistedness to win the award. But it’s still a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
“House”: As a whole, the fifth season of FOX’s medical drama was uneven. But few series had more talked-about episodes than Kutner’s suicide or the season-ending spiral for Hugh Laurie’s pill-addicted doctor.
“Damages”: Brilliant acting and some big plot twists again fueled FX’s take on the legal drama. But too often the second season felt like it threw in complications just for the sake of being complicated.
“Big Love”: I like this show fine when I watch it, but it tends to fall through the cracks for me. I’m also not really sure whether voters would want to endorse a show about a polygamist family.
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