"Homeland" pulled off an upset last year, winning Best Drama Series for its freshman season. In the process, it took down undefeated, four-time champ "Mad Men" and also prevailed for acting (Claire Danes, Damian Lewis) and writing. The Showtime hit returns to defend its crown in 2013 with an increase in nominations (11 vs. 9), including bids for newcomers Morena Baccarin, Mandy Patinkin, and Rupert Friend.
Four of its 2012 competitors are back in 2013 to contend again: "Breaking Bad," "Downton Abbey," "Game of Thrones," and "Mad Men." Rookie show "House of Cards" completes the field. For the second time ever, there are no broadcast programs in this race.
"Breaking Bad" has the best odds among our Experts, Editors, and Users to triumph for its fifth season after suffering four losses in the past. If it finally triumphs this year, it will join "The Sopranos" (2004) and "24" (2006) for finally prevailing upon its fifth time at bat. Voters are usually biased in favor of more snobbish, stylish programs ("Homeland," "Mad Men," "The West Wing"), but "Breaking Bad" has a strong plus this year. AMC is airing its final episodes during the Emmy voting period when all Hollywood will be bidding a tearful goodbye to the critically hailed show (recent winner of Best Program of the Year at the TV Critics' Association Award). This year "Breaking Bad" reaped the same number of nominations as last year (13), one of them was its first-ever bid for writing. It also has key nominations for editing and sound mixing (often examples of wide voter support).
"Game of Thrones" leads with the most nominations (16, up from 11 last year) and is also critically hailed (TCA just voted it Best Drama Series), but voters usually spurn programs with fantasy elements. Only one has won in recent Emmy history. "Lost" bagged this category in 2005, but that show's supernatural elements weren't prominently on display yet in that first season as "Lost" focused more on personal character stories.
Breaking new ground as the first web-based /streamed show in this race is Netflix's "House of Cards," which also has bids for acting (Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright), directing (David Fincher) and editing among its total tally of nine nominations. "House of Cards" has the requisite Cool Factor and snob appeal with a twist. Offering inside glimpses of Washington D.C. politics, it's like past four-time champ "The West Wing," starring anti-heroes instead of heroes.
British import "Downton Abbey" dropped back to 12 nominations this year from 16. Although it won as Best Miniseries in 2011, the only major category it nabbed in 2012 was for Maggie Smith as Best Supporting Actress. However, don't underestimate its Emmy odds. No nominee in this race has more snob appeal, since it's an expose of the British class system just like "Upstairs, Downstairs," which won this category three times as Best Drama Series (1974, 1975, 1977) and once as Best Miniseries/ Limited Series (1976). In fact, the original "Upstairs, Downstairs" never lost when competing in a program category.
And what of the mega-stylish "Mad Men"? It's tied with "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law," and "The West Wing" for having the most victories in this category (four). Don't shrug it off just because it lost last year to "Homeland." Other past champs rebounded after losses, including "L.A. Law" and "The Sopranos." But "Mad Men" had a disastrous Emmy run last year, setting a new record for worst shut-out (17 defeats, no wins). Now it has 12 nominations. None for writing or directing. Programs that win in this category usually have one of those bids or another. Over the past 15 years, the only exception to that rule was "The Practice" (1999).
History has shown that it is good to be really bad if you want to win at the Emmys. While the Oscars have proven too delicate to reward other than the odd villain, past Emmy champs include several sociopaths.
We often felt sympathy for Tony Soprano, the character that won James Gandolfini three Emmys for Best Drama Actor, but we never forgot that his business was murder. In one of his winning Emmy submissions, 'Amour Fou,' he viciously beat his mistress Gloria (Annabella Sciorra).
Click arrow on right side of photo above to see 14 others who were rewarded for bad behavior.
And check out our other fun Emmy photo galleries:
Win $100 predicting:
Emmys, MTV Movie Awards,
ACMs & Daytime Emmys
Read more about entry and rules here. Make your initial predictions now. Change them later as often as you wish up until the nominations or winners are announced.
Below, meet our past winners of recent award prediction contests.
Oscar Nominations: New York state resident Tim Kressner (gufa54) won $1,000 for reaping the highest percentage (78%) when predicting Academy Award noms. Watch our video chat with him here and learn his strategy for making picks. See the leaderboard here. See Kressner's predix here.
Golden Globes (Film): Mario Gomez, a med studen in Mexico, won our contest with the highest percentage of correct picks (86%) and highest point score (2,693). See our video chat with him here. Two other contestants also scored 86%: lulo1989 and eastwest. Tom O'Neil reaped best Experts' score. David Schnelwar had top score among our Editors. See the leaderboard here to see if you made the top tier.
Critics Choice Nominations: Bryce H scored an impressive 83% when sizing up 20 categories. That was one percentage point ahead of our smartest Editor, Daniel Montgomery. Our top Expert was also one of our Editors, Paul Sheehan, who reaped 74%. To see how you performed, check out our leaderboard plus the score section of your account page.
Golden Globe (Film) Nominations: Jonathan was our top User, reaping a staggering 86% when forecasting the lineup of 10 categories. That put him six percentage points ahead of our best Expert -- Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood) -- and eight ahead of our leading Editor, Daniel Montogomery. Did you made the cut on the leaderboard score breakdown?
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award Winners: Christian aced all rivals, scoring 82%. That was almost 20 percentage points ahead of our top Expert (Edward Douglas of ComingSoon ) and Editor (Matt Noble), both of whom earned scores of 64%. Christian foresaw that surprise screenplay win for "Before Midnight." See leaderboard.