Emmys predictions for Best Drama Series: ‘House of Cards,’ ‘Mad Men,’ …

With an Oscar season that felt longer than it took to make “Boyhood” now in the rearview mirror, we can focus all of our attention on an awards season that seems to fly by each year: the Emmy Awards. This year the TV academy decided to add some drama to their highest honor by shaking up the rules in the top Comedy and Drama races. Not only will there now be seven nominees in each category — up from six — but their placement in each category will now be determined by their runtime (60 minutes you’re Drama; 30 minutes you’re Comedy).

Last year, I went five for six at predicting the Drama Series nominees (I will never doubt you again, “Downton Abbey“). That additional seventh seat means there will be a whopping three open slots as last year’s champ “Breaking Bad” has wrapped up and nominee “True Detective” is being pushed to the Limited Series categories, but doesn’t have a fresh season this year anyway. Given all that, here is what I see making the cut this year for Best Drama Series.

Related: Marcus James Dixon’s Emmys predictions
for Best Drama Series: ‘
Empire,’ ‘Better Call Saul,’ …

House of Cards” – Season 3
Not only can we consider the Netflix drama a virtual lock but I’ll go as far as saying it’s the current frontrunner to win — particularly if this is, in fact, its final season. The powerhouse team of reigning SAG champ Kevin Spacey and last year’s Golden Globe winner Robin Wright are locks in their respective categories, so this is a no-brainer.

Game of Thrones” – Season 5
Even in what I considered to be the show’s weakest season last year, it still pulled off a nomination. There’s just no case that can be made against the show not reaping its fifth consecutive Drama Series nomination unless the dragons swoop over the production and burn everything to the ground before more than five episodes can be completed — and even then HBO will probably push to bend those rules because it’s really the only Drama Series shot they’ve got.

Mad Men” – Season 7B
Six of the past seven Drama Series champions have been a show from AMC. Four of those trophies have gone to “Mad Men” which has also been nominated every year it’s been on the air. Now entering its final half-season, you can bet AMC will go all out to keep that nomination and win streak alive.

Downton Abbey” – Season 5
I learned my lesson last year. I will not doubt you or Emmy voters’ love for you again, “Downton.” Congrats on what will in all probability be your fourth consecutive Drama Series nomination, following its first year when it won in the Movie/Mini category.

“Orange is the New Black” – Season 2
The new rule change is truly a blessing in disguise for Netflix and you Litchfield inmates. Season 2 of the award winning drama-turned-comedy-turned-back-to-drama series is about as unfunny as a comedy can be. Death, drugs, and violence dominated the season and though it may be lighter in tone than the likes of the above-mentioned dramas, it’s still a better pairing than with the likes of, say, “The Big Bang Theory.” Make no mistake. Emmy will embrace the show no matter where it competes as its popularity is still peaking. Season 3 will be available just as Emmy nomination voting is underway, reminding voters what a gem this drama … I mean comedy … no, wait, drama, really is.

Editors’ Emmys slugfest: Dissecting all those crazy new rule changes (Video)

Better Call Saul” – Season 1
AMC’s “Breaking Bad” spin-off series may be looking to define itself as its own but for Emmy’s sake it should embrace its predecessor’s likeness and push for its leftover nomination scraps. Though sometimes “Saul” can be slow-paced, at least it has a winning performance by Bob Odenkirk in the title role. Sure AMC will likely be pushing “Mad Men” pretty hard but there’s no way it’ll forget about “Saul” and neither will Emmy voters.

Empire” – Season 1
There is no question that this show is the “It” show right now. Its success may have been foreseen as it reunites Academy Award nominees Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, but few could have seen the cultural and ratings impact the show would have. It’s defied all odds in the ratings being the only show in Nielsen history to grow in the ratings each of its seven (so far) weeks to staggering numbers. Critical reception has been solid and, if all this isn’t enough, we can bet that “Empire” will have a shot at riding the coattails to a Drama Series nomination from what should be an absolute lock of a Drama Actress Emmy nomination (and win): Henson as Cookie Lyons. This show is exactly what network TV has been waiting for: to get itself back into a cable-dominated race and you can be sure Fox knows it and Emmy voters do as well.

There you have them, my Best Drama Series predictions at this early stage of Emmy season. Though I do reserve the right to change a prediction or two (especially if “Orange” petitions Comedy and it gets accepted), I’m pretty confident in these. What do you say? Let me know in the comments section below.

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