Editors’ Emmys smackdown: ‘Mad Men’ vs. ‘Breaking Bad’ for Best Drama Series

We polled our eight Editors for their insights into the Emmy race for Best Drama Series, and it’s a split decision: six expect AMC’s “Mad Men” to win for a record fifth year in a row while two renegades think its network rival, “Breaking Bad” will win the day. (See the complete lists of their Emmy predictions here.)


Neither camp declares this race a lock. They agree that we should watch out for a potential upset from last year’s Best Movie/Miniseries winner “Downton Abbey” or Showtime’s acclaimed freshman hit “Homeland“:

Mad Men” will win!

Chris Beachum:
One of the biggest advantages for another “Mad Men” win as Best Drama Series is that there are several legitimate threats instead of just one. For most awards, it takes a single competitor as an alternative for voters to rally around to achieve an upset. However, the two most likely contenders could be “Homeland,” with its patriotic themes and strong good-or-evil storylines, and “Downton Abbey,” the one show with the kind of snob appeal that “Mad Men” has enjoyed.

Rob Licuria:
“Mad Men” will follow in the steps of “Frasier” and go five-for-five. There’s just no one alternative drama series that has enough heat to topple it at this point. Yes, there was some rumbling that this past season was one of its weakest, and it certainly is vulnerable. But it just has the snob appeal and pedigree to win again.

One caveat: if any of the three shows that could threaten it (“Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey” or especially probable dark horse threat “Homeland”) do exceptionally well when nominations are announced, then I will switch over. Time will tell!

Daniel Montgomery:
“Mad Men” is the frontrunner to win for a record fifth time, almost by default. In an unusually crowded race, deciding what the alternative might be is the real tricky part, but the four-time winner’s biggest threat is most likely “Homeland,” which has the overwhelming cool-factor that has helped other breakout watercooler hits win in their first seasons, like “Lost” and, for that matter, “Mad Men” four years ago.

But it’s always unpredictable how voters will receive a new show. When “The Sopranos” was the new kid on the block, it lost to repeat-winner “The Practice.” When “Six Feet Under” had freshness and buzz on its side, it lost to repeat-winner “The West Wing.” And just last year “Boardwalk Empire,” even with the Hollywood clout of Martin Scorsese, could not unseat “Mad Men.” My money is on Don Draper and company to win again.

Andrew Pickett:
“Mad Men” will win Best Drama Series for a 5th straight year not just because it is one of the best television shows there has ever been but also due to a lack of exceptional competition this year. Emmy voters may be too snobby to chose “Breaking Bad,” “Homeland” or “Game of Thrones” but probably could have gone for “Downton Abbey” or “Boardwalk Empire” had their second seasons been better.

The only chance for a shock would be due to the voting system as submission tapes have to be watched out of context which isn’t the best way to judge a best drama series and sometimes leads to a show with self contained episodes prevailing.

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No, “Breaking Bad” will win!

Marcus Dixon:
At this early stage, I’m going out on a limb and predicting “Breaking Bad” for Best Drama Series. No drama has ever won five in a row, so that counts out “Mad Men,” and the shocking snubs of “Homeland” at the SAG Awards would suggest there’s not enough support in the industry for the Showtime newcomer.

For me it comes down to “Breaking Bad” versus “Downton Abbey,” and the former clearly had the critical advantage this year. “Breaking Bad” received an approval rating of 96 on Metacritic, compared to “Downton Abbey’s” far less impressive 84. When you take all of these statistics into consideration, “Breaking Bad” is the clear victor. But will Emmy voters stick with their old ways and go for “Mad Men” instead? We’ll find out soon enough.

Matt Noble:
Sure “Mad Men” has a great shot of reaping their 5th straight win, but I think this may be the year they are knocked off their perch by their fellow AMC show. “Breaking Bad” will be airing new episodes while voting is taking place. The season that is being judged is critically their most acclaimed yet with a 96 on Metacritic. They are overdue for a win and have steadily been building momentum at the Emmys, winning 4 acting awards for its past 3 seasons and increasing their nomination haul each year. I say “Breaking Bad” takes it out this year.


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