It has been 17 years since a CBS show won Best Drama Series at the Emmy Awards. That was “Picket Fences” which celebrated back-to-back victories in 1993 and 1994. Since then, the Tiffany network has had very few jewels vie for the crown. “Chicago Hope” contended from 1995 to 1997, “CSI” from 2002 to 2004, “Joan of Arcadia” in 2004 and “The Good Wife” last year.
While “The Good Wife” has been praised by the critics, it has a slew of factors that could prevent it from ever prevailing at the Emmys. It has more in common with “Law & Order” and “The Practice” which were Emmy champs in the late 1990s than more recent winners. The last broadcast series to take this prize was the adrenaline-pumping “24” from FOX in 2006.
And though “The Good Wife” is the grittiest of the CBS crime dramas, its tone remains much lighter than the edgy cable fare that the Emmys have come to favor in recent years. Following the win by HBO’s “The Sopranos” in 2007, “Mad Men” on AMC has owned this award.
While Entertainment Weekly may have dubbed “The Good Wife” as the “best show on TV,” it has attracted a fair share of detractors. They say that too often the show sinks into soap opera, focusing on the romantic entanglements of Alicia Florrick, the main protaganist played by Julianna Margulies. Critics chide the writers for creating cases that are oftentimes too neatly tied up as well. And the decidedly liberal stance of the characters may be off-putting to more conservative voters.
As such, it may be difficult to come up with sample episodes that play well to Emmy jurors. However, the procedural nature of the series does make it easier to select stand-alone episodes that don’t require prior knowledge of the characters and storylines.
Then there is the Emmy bias against female-focused dramas. “Joan of Arcadia” and “Grey’s Anatomy” are the only recent drama series nominees to feature a female lead. Voters have opted for action-packed male-driven series like “24”, “Lost” and “The Sopranos” or for sophisticated fare like “Mad Men” that feature women in only supporting or subordinate roles. The last female-centric show to be named Best Drama Series was “Cagney & Lacey” with back-to-back wins in 1985 and 1986.
“The Good WIfe” may find that its only Emmy love comes in the acting categories. Scene-stealing Archie Panjabi, who plays in-house investigator Khalinda Sharma, was a surprise Supporting Drama Actress winner last year. She edged out a slew of industry veterans including her Emmy-winning co-star Christine Baranski (1995 Supporting Comedy Actress, “Cybill”). Julianna Margulies, the only “ER” series regular to take home an Emmy, was the frontrunner after her Globe and SAG wins but lost to Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”). That could have been due to a less-than-stellar episode submitted.