Emmys 2011: Analyzing the Best Drama Series Race — Including Our 6 Dream Nominees

This category might as well be called Outstanding cable Drama Series. Between the strong contenders on HBO (Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones), AMC (Mad Men, The Killing, The Walking Dead) and FX (Justified, Sons of Anarchy), the broadcast networks will be lucky if they get one show in the running. If they do, that show will likely be the best of the bunch, CBS’ The Good Wife.

More Emmy Races In Review: Supporting Comedy ActorSupporting Comedy Actress | Lead Comedy Actor | Lead Comedy Actress | Outstanding Comedy Series | Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

Review this slideshow of the major contenders — including TVLine’s Dream Nominees — then vote below for who you think are the six best. And check back Thursday for our preview of the Outstanding Lead Drama Actress race!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. JohnDoe says:

    Glad to see the networks getting snubbed, with the exception of Fringe. Most network television absolutely sucks mega-hard. Including the Good Wife…I guess if I was a woman, I might like that soap opera, but thank Christ for Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and other awesome shows.

  2. wonj says:

    Just because “Walking Dead” had a good pilot, does not mean it deserves a best show nomination, considering how boring all the other episodes are. “Game of Thrones” and “Parenthood” and “Boardwalk Empire” are ALL much better nominee choices.

    But, I do HOPE with fingers crossed, “Friday Night Lights” can join “The Wire” by having it’s swan song season FINALLY give it a nomination it’s been robbed of four years in a row!

  3. the tenor says:

    1. Friday Night Lights
    2. Mad Men
    3. Game of Thrones
    4. The Good Wife
    5. Parenthood
    6. Fringe

  4. Christine lee says:

    Must be Fringe, the best drama series and ever!!

  5. Annie says:

    Fringe, of course!

  6. Tristan says:

    I read somewhere that Fringe isn’t enough on the Emmys voters radar to get nominated. So i guess thank you for helping a little on that front.

  7. Laugh says:

    For me it’s Mad Men (IF it’s eligible..I thought it was a shoo-in for Best Drama, Lead Actor, Lead Actress last year for The Suitcase episode alone. Maybe it is eligible this year?). Best Drama I watch, hands down.

  8. anna says:

    FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. The greatest show i’ve ever had the privilege of watching. It prbly wont win even though theres no doubt in my mind it should but i hope maybe connie britton/kyle chandler can take one home- fingers crossed! but i hope the show just gets a nomination

    -random sidenote question:does the person/people writing these little snippets of each show hate ‘Parenthood’ or am i misreading “the inexplicable precious little buzz”

  9. WonderBoy says:

    Grey’s Anatomy had a solid season…. but Pretty Little Liars is my guilty favorite! :-) Also… does Doctor Who count?

  10. Soso says:

    #1 Friday Night Lights
    #2 Big Love
    #3 Mad Men
    #4 The Good Wife
    #5 The Killing
    #6 Boardwalk Empire
    But I’m for SoA and Southland too !!!
    And where the hell is In Treatment ???????!!

  11. Ellen says:

    I’ve been a TV watcher for 3 decades, and I typically watch straight drama, not a whole lot of science fiction. Fringe this season was some of the best TV I have ever seen. I will save my comments about John Noble for the actor topic.

  12. Soso says:

    And where is Men of a Certain Age ??

  13. Jo says:

    Game of Thrones hasn’t got nearly enough votes, it has been absolutely brilliant so far.
    And White Collar will not get nominated. There’s some channels which just seem to get no nominations.

  14. P says:

    Castle should have been on the list. Season 3 had some brilliant episodes, especially the finale and the ones on domestic terrorism. Atleast Stana Katic should be recognized for her excellent work on the show.
    Apart from Castle, I’d vote for The Good Wife, Mad Men and Fringe!

  15. Hawaiicloud9 says:

    Without a doubt Sons of Anarchy should win. As others have said, it wrongly been looked over and it it literally the best drama series on tv. The entire cast is deserving of the award!!!!

  16. Carol says:

    Top of my list would be The Borgias (Jeremy Irons was riveting), Treme (the music and NOLA atmosphere plus Wendell Pierce and David Morse made that a must-see), and In Treatment (Gabriel Byrne in anguish is compelling).

    On broadcast, I loved The Good Wife and had to keep watching House, even as it swirled down the drain after mid-season. Hugh Laurie was great as always.

    Guilty pleasures included White Collar, Burn Notice, The Closer, and Covert Affairs, but none of these come anywhere near being Emmy material.

  17. Liz says:


  18. Pau says:

    Castle season 3 was so good. It deserved at least to appear on the list. I hate that they ditch it especially Stana Katic by not including her in the list for drama actress.

  19. Jess says:

    Fringe FTW!

  20. Mel says:

    Criminal Minds robbed again.
    Listen they don’t have to win, but freaking just give this show a nomination. They deserve that much at least.

  21. laia7art says:

    Fringe, the best!!!

  22. Arthur says:

    If more people watched FRINGE. It would be at 100% by now. that’s how good it is.

  23. Paige says:

    It makes me sad that Castle isn’t on here because it has so much comedy, it really is an amazing show.

  24. Sarah says:

    WHITE COLLAR definitely deserves a chance here.

    I’m so sick of hearing about the same old shows, and USA Network has created something that demands more attention with White Collar. While I admit I haven’t seen a lot of these, there’s really only one show I’ve been hooked on for two seasons and counting. House doesn’t deserve a drama nomination, its the same plot recycled over and over. Big Love fell off my radar after the end of the second season, and if I really don’t understand everyone’s fascination with vampires. If you want to see a good TV show, go watch the pilot episode of White Collar. You’ll be out buying the season DVD sets in no time.

  25. Scott says:

    1. Fringe
    2. Spartacus
    3. House

  26. Katrina says:

    I’m as baffled by Castle not being on the best drama list as I am by Stana not being on the best actress in a drama series list. IMO Castle is the most brilliantly written show I have ever had the pleasure of watching. It is witty, smart & funny. It has an extraordinary ability to balance & blend humour, touching, heart wrenching, romance, etc. The character development is brilliant & the show has the best written ship I have ever seen. And then there is the acting, which is also top notch week after week. Everything about this show blows me away each and every week.

  27. Ana says:

    Fringe is good… but CASTLE is the best!!!

  28. alisonfaith297 says:

    my question is how on earth did house get on this list?? the latest season was just so bad. i mean no offense to house fan but seriously, i think it doesn’t deserve one at all. i’m totally with mad men and the good wife, amazing shows.

  29. lord fringie says:

    FRINGE & Game of Thrones! keeping TV great!

  30. howie says:

    ..CAN’T LOSE!

    Friday Night Lights is phenomenal. They better win!

  31. Shester says:

    I only added Parenthood ‘cuz a friend of mine was on it. House all the way!!!

  32. Mollie says:

    And Bones? Castle? The Mentalist? NCIS?
    Is horrible!

  33. Ange says:

    Friday Night Lights and Castle.

  34. Seth says:

    White Collar deserves a nod here, folks. Hate to admit it cause its network, but, its the truth.

  35. kate'shomesick says:

    Okay…I watched a few episodes of every single one of those shows…and I get the flair of every single one BUT taking a technical approach as well as an emotional one…there is no show that moved me as much as Southland does. The writing is superb almost of shakesperian quality! The cast is exceptional- there isn’t one weak link. Every character is engaging and heartbreakingly ambivalent. The filming is as rough and polished at the same time as the entire show…I’d go as far as saying that Southland is THE show (at the moment) that manages to reflect and compress as much truth there is about life as possible. I think anyone who has seen the last season will agree that there wasn’t one bad episode and as someone who has done a bit of acting I’m absolutely thinking that the actors did a great job by digging really deep and not trying to use the nicer way by crying beautifully or portraying pain sexy as I have happened to see a lot in some of the shows pictured above (don’t get me wrong…if I’m having a lazy evening that’s absolutely fine with me…but I always feel like I need more honesty).
    I’m usually not really one to advocate for TV shows on the internet but in this case I feel like I have to.
    Give it a shot and watch it! It’s magnificent.

  36. Frank says:

    Castle FTW!

  37. little eve says:

    where is CASTLE? I agree with an above post: if not a nomination for the show at least one for Will Beall (writing) and/or Stana Katic!!!

  38. Dimitris says:

    I voted for Fringe. It is an exceptional series and, especially season 3, with mind-blowing writing and masterful acting…! Definitely, this is the best series I’ve ever watched!

  39. Emmanuelle Works says:

    Seriously? No Castle? There are a lot of truly wonderful shows on this list. But some of them don’t deserve to be on that list more than Castle. White Collar? Shameless? Blue Blood? Southland? Not to mention how new some of those shows are. And as much as I used to love House, this season was horrible!

  40. Lyss says:

    TV’s #1 drama is where???? I don’t care if NCIS is a procedural, it is the best show on tv and the most popular with the most talented cast, it deserves at least a nod!

  41. Nursultan says:

    Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead are so overated!they are good but not nearly as good as Mad Men, who deserve to win again or very strong newcomer The Killing. The Good Wife is also a frontrunner. But I hope that The Killing will get the win

  42. Nancy says:

    Oh how far [H]OUSE has fallen. It breaks my heart. :(

  43. zooey says:

    castle fans SERIOUSLY???????????????????????

  44. Ellen says:

    Fringe is never going to be nominated, Anna Torv likely won’t be, but John Noble should be nominated and he ought to win.

  45. Emily farnham says:

    Southland all the way!!!

  46. Ashley says:

    i will only vote for sons of anarchy because it is the best show ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. Sal says:

    Fringe and Friday Night Lights. Bit of an edge to FNL here since it’s its last season.

  48. ricky says:

    where is NCIS????Is one of the best american shows and it must be on list.I voted also White Collar,because is a great show with mystery and little humor

  49. Amali says:

    Law and Order SVU the best show

    Mariska Hargitay the best actress

    Christopher Meloni the best actor