Only “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law,” and “The West Wing” have prevailed as Best Drama Series four times. Coming off its third consecutive victory, can “Mad Men” join this pantheon of classic shows? According to predictions from our experts, editors, and users, the period drama is the overwhelming favorite once again.
“Mad Men” is not only the overall leader among drama series with 19 nominations, but that is the show’s biggest haul so far earning 17 in 2010 and 16 in both 2008 and 2009. The focus of this season was the launch of a new advertising agency with very little time given to Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) troubled home life and wife Betty (January Jones). The highlight of the season was “The Suitcase,” which was virtually a two-hander between Don and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) as they spend all night working on an ad campaign, celebrating Peggy’s birthday, and getting drunk. That episode is also nominated for writing (Matthew Weiner) and has been entered by both Hamm and Moss.
The show with the next most nominations (18) is “Boardwalk Empire,” which is very much in contention coming off Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild victories. The freshman series is set at the start of Prohibition in Atlantic City. Real and fictional characters blend together from both sides of the law. The main characte is Enoch “Nucky” Johnson”, the corrupt county treasurer played by Emmy-nominated Steve Buscemi. The pilot was directed by Oscar winner Martin Scorsese, who is nominated for his efforts.
Another rookie show, “Game of Thrones,” is next in total nominations with 13. This epic series is set in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and features the violent feuds and battles between various noble families. The program had two much-talked about episodes: the pilot “Winter is Coming,” which set the mood and tone for the series and is nominated for its helming by Tim Van Patten; and “Baelor,” which had the audicity to kill off its major character Ned Stark (Sean Bean) and is nodded for writing by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
The legal drama “The Good Wife” earned nine nominations this year, the same number as last. Five of those are bids for castmembers Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, Alan Cumming, Christine Baranski, and Archie Panjabi while a sixth is for guest star Michael J. Fox.
“Dexter” contends for the fourth year in a row. However, it fell from seven nods last year to just five this year. Last year saw a win for John Lithgow with his guest turn as the Trinity killer. This season Jonny Lee Miller was the major villain while Emmy nominee Julia Stiles was an intended victim who escaped and helped Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) track him down. After last year’s lauded storyline this was deemed somewhat of a disappointment.
The family drama “Friday Night Lights” ended its five-season run with its first series nod. DirecTV has been very supportive of the show in the last two years and this paid off with four nominations this year, including repeat bids by leads Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton. The finale “Always” wrapped up many of storylines and earned Jason Katims a writing nomination. Only the laffer “Barney Miller” (1982) won its sole Emmy for its final season.
Gold Derby founder Tom O’Neil discusses the race with senior editors Rob Licuria and Chris Beachum in this video slugfest.
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