Emmys 2012: The Drama Series Race in Review, Including Our Dream Nominees

The temperature is rising, school is letting out and second-tier reality shows are clogging the airwaves – you know what this means, right? Emmy season is upon us! As the balloting process gets underway, culminating in the July 19 nomination announcement, TVLine will be taking a close look at all the contenders in the major races and highlighting our dream candidates — the six shows and performers in each category that we think voters should recognize when they fill out their ballots.

More Emmy Races In Review | Lead Drama Actor | Lead Drama Actress | Supporting Drama Actor | Supporting Drama Actress | Outstanding Comedy Series | Lead Comedy Actor | Lead Comedy Actress | Supporting Comedy Actor | Supporting Comedy Actress | Outstanding Reality-Competition Series | Outstanding Movie/Miniseries

First up: Outstanding Drama Series. Review the slideshow then vote below for who you think are the six best. And check back Thursday for our preview of the Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series 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. Pamela says:

    Most likely to get nominations:

    Boardwalk Empire
    Breaking Bad
    The Good Wife
    Mad Men
    Game of Thrones

    Would like to see get a Drama Series noms, but more than likely will get thrown a bone in another category (like really minor ones, such as hair and makeup, or title sequences)

    Boss (though, come on Kelsey Grammer for Best Actor going all MacBeth for once)
    Treme (given that it comes for The Wire stable, this would never happen in a year of Sundays but oh well, a girl can but dream)

  2. Lady Mary Crawley Crawley says:

    Rooting for Fringe to win this poll on write-in ballots, because being on Dream Emmy lists is all we got (though I strange never lose hope they’ll finally notice the awesome power of John Noble, the eternal optimist in me is like “well 2 Walters scene in “Worlds Apart” could do it”).

    On a more realistic note. Every episode of Mad Men has been pretty amazing this season. Not just the spectacular “The Other Woman” (Get Christina Hendricks a gold statute now please) but “Far Away Places,” “Mystery Date,” “Christmas Waltz” have all been stellar, I think this has been the best season of the show, well worthy of a repeat win. And some nomination love for the majority of the cast + newbie Jessica Paré.

  3. LacyMB says:

    BBC’s Sherlock. It’s hands down the best thing I’ve seen on TV all year even if Series 2 is only three eps long.

  4. Kira says:

    Castle needs to be on here. It’s been 4 seasons of non-stop, stellar storytelling with phenomenal actors at the front. It should be recognized.

    • Superhero says:

      You’re completely delusional if you think Castle can compare to the likes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, or Homeland in any way, shape, or form. Those are groundbreaking dramas. Castle is just your standard procedural cop show. Everything you see in it has been done before. And I say that as someone who’s seen every episode, since I’m a huge Nathan Fillion fan. But you need to wake up. It’s fine to like it yourself, but it will not and should not even be in consideration for these awards.

  5. Margaux says:

    Castle. It’s not just a fun fluff show at best. I sure as hell think it deserves to be taken seriously, what with the commitment on continuity and character development it gave, among other things

    Ah, I know it’ll fall on deaf ears. But we are talking about dream nominees.

    • Kira says:

      Exactly! Anyone that writes it off as such obviously hasn’t watched it. In my opinion, it has the perfect balance of light and dark. It can be intense and dramatic as all get out, then we get fun and lighter fare. It’s the best of both worlds. It’d be a shame to underestimate it or miss out. The writing is amazing and the acting is top notch.

      • CJ says:

        I have watched it…religiously, in fact….for 3 1/2 seasons, but it became absolutely unwatchable after the winter hiatus.

    • Joy says:

      The character development on Castle is first rate. All 4 principle characters get air time and are really good actors.

  6. A.J. says:

    I am a Mad Men stan, through and through, so they’re first on all my lists, but I would be so happy to see Shameless get nominated. Boardwalk Empire was outstanding this season, as well as Breaking Bad. And Game of Thrones has been great, but I’m more interested in Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey being nominated. As I said, though, Mad Men is completely fascinating to me, and I will stand alone in wanting them get their 5th Emmy lol.

  7. This says:

    I can’t believe Smash, Scandal, Once and Revenge are even up there. I really hope Homeland is nominated and hopefully wins.
    I know it’s not eligible for best drama, but Sherlock’s got to get its due. They were ineligible for the best drama BAFTA this year (and weren’t even nominated for miniseries which is ridonk considering they won best drama last year) so I really want to see them win Miniseries stateside, and Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch absolutely need to be nominated for best actor Miniseries.

  8. Stephen S. says:

    My favorite shows of the Season:

    Breaking Bad
    The Walking Dead
    Person of Interest

    Though once I get caught up on The Good Wife, I’m sure that’ll make it probably replacing Person of Interest.

  9. Just the fact that SMASH made the list decreases the credibility of the entire voting process. Seriously? Castle kicked its ass EVERY week. This is laughable at best.

  10. Ed says:

    I voted 6 but the 2 I’m favoring to is TWD and OUAT.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Smash? Scandel? Really?? Seriously?? Where’s Awake?? Where the HELL is Criminal Minds!!??

  12. SVUnCI says:

    would love for AWAKE to be up there Especially with that stellar finale they had…but the emmy’s rarely vote for cancelled series (unless its pushing daisies or arrested development)

  13. Ana says:

    I know it is pointless to say it AGAIN, but why are cable shows competing with network shows? Everyone knows that cable has way more room to be creative and to push the envelope. Networks are constrained by sponsors, studio suits, ratings, budgets, blah, blah… Cable and networks are not on the same playing field. Especially when you are talking about shows on premium channels that have much more license to innovate, daring and challange the imagination. Cable shows also don’t have the same demands in terms of how many episodes are produced. It’s easier to be more creative with a shorter season and not having to worry about viewers’, writers’ and staff fatigue. Just sayin… You would think that someone would take these inequalities into consideration.

  14. I would hope the people doing the actual nominations have better taste than the idiots voting in this poll

  15. Dana says:

    Can’t I just vote for Downton Abbey six times?

  16. Britta Unfiltered says:

    I pick Homeland as my dream winner, and I really think it’s going to win. My other dream picks would be Mad Men, Justified, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad. I think most of those will be nominated. Justified and Walking Dead will be probably get snubbed though. Trying to think what will probably take their place, and I’m going to guess Boss and….hmm, maybe Dexter? I can’t really think of a 6th show that was impressive enough to me that I think the Emmy voters would also love. I definitely don’t think Good Wife and Downton Abbey had good enough seasons this year to be in the running.
    I’m so tempted to pick Shameless as a dream nominee, but it really feels more like a comedy to me, even though it would be a dark comedy. Most dramedys seem like they are drama with a bit of comedy thrown in, but Shameless is more of a comedy with bits of drama thrown in. I dunno, maybe this is just my super dark personality coming out with a weird interpretation on this.
    And you’re picking that super sexist Sons of Anarchy as a dream nominee, TVLine? I feel let down. I want to punch Kurt Sutter in the face for some of the things he does on that show. I hate it.

  17. lala-world says:

    they got some nerves, not nominating fringe, right? HAHAHHAHa
    even not with the marlyn streep of tv *sarcasm* on that show aka the very bland, robotic so called actress,
    please, the only person on that show who deserves to be nominated is and always will be JOHN NOBLE
    even with the bad material on season 4 , john rose above the material, but that chick there only shines when the material is very, very good.
    a good actor/actress makes every performance look good even when the script is not so good.
    and she, has failed miserably. if she was “THAT any good” like some of her delusional fans claim. than she would have been noticed a long time ago.
    but yet, in season 4 the critics only praise JOHN NOBLE.

  18. Kacsa says:

    FRINGE, you cotton candy-brained Potassium bromate-eater!

  19. valerie tower says:

    Although I LOVE LOVE LOVE Southland and Mad Men, this year totally belongs to Breaking Bad. The cast, the writing, the acting, the show is PERFECT. It’s their year and hopefully they will be recognized.

  20. MARIAPOMPEO says:

    My choices are:
    Game of Thrones
    Breaking Bad
    Mad Men

  21. SOUTHLAND, SOUTHLAND, SOUTHLAND for the upset! Give the little show that could it’s due, Emmy!

  22. Lyana says:

    Wow, lots of hate on Once here. Four words: Robert Carlyle Lana Parrilla.

  23. anna says:

    Mad Men doesn’t deserve to win this year. The Other Woman was the first excellent episode of the season whereas Homeland and Breaking Bad had excellent episodes all through their seasons.

  24. OUAT is perhaps one of the only shows where strong female leads outrank men. Usually TV shows are so male based with one strong female or maybe a couple, but OUAT is refreshing where most of the ladies are fierce and kickass and the only strong male lead is Rumpel/Gold, that in itself deserves something. Not to mention the writing is good and I love the twists and acting is fab. I side eye anyone who thinks Robert or Lana are bad actors.

  25. Nicole says:

    Once Upon A Time should win, considering it is the BEST show on TV in a very long time, because of the exemplary writing and the stellar acting abilities of Robert Carlyle (Rumpelstiltskin/Mr.Gold)! No other actor or actress currently on TV can match Robert Carlyle’s range and depth of emotion.

  26. The fact that Parenthood isn’t on this list is freaking insane! That show is the best series on television!

  27. CJ says:

    SOUTHLAND!!!!!!! And for that matter, I would like to see Suits on this list instead of Once Upon a Time, Scandal, Luck, and Smash. Are those supposed to be a joke?

    • Nicole says:

      It is no joke that Once Upon a Time is the Best show on TV, and Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin/MrGold is the most phenomenal acting talent that TV has right now. No jokes, just the facts! :)

    • Spencer says:

      SUITS?!! Are you joking????? That crap doesn’t deserve any noms!!

  28. gailer says:

    MadMen is most deserving. Nothing else even comes close to this season. If it doesn’t win, I will be shocked.

  29. I did a write in for Castle. I know…I know what your going to say. It’s a dramedy. I think it is unfairly categorized. It is a DRAMA with comedy undertones. It is an awesome DRAMA and deserves some recognition. Fantastic CAST & STORYLINES.

  30. Chiara says:

    Ok did someone on Castle step on your foot and forgot to apologize? You completely missed it and its actors/actresses!!!!!

  31. KenyAlways says:


  32. Spencer says:


  33. Kim Lewis says:

    I believe that The Walking Dead is the best show on television. It deserves to be recognized as such and not be passed over because of bias on the judges part.

  34. Gogo says:

    Shameless for the win!

  35. Anon says:

    I’m sorry fans of breaking bad but it is just about some stupid druggie and there are way better tv shows that should have been on that list.

    • Connor says:

      Like what? What shows are better? None. And if you think Breaking Bad is about “some stupid druggie,” you obviously have not even seen the show.

  36. navistart says:

    House and Once Upon a Time

  37. Cassie says:

    I can’t really speak for some of these shows but out of the shows I watch. Breaking Bad, Justified, and The Game of Thrones should definitely be in there. The Walking Dead could of been worthy but they slipped up quite a few times this season. Revenge and Once Upon a Time should not even be aloud to compete against these other shows. I like them but NO. Sons of Anarchy is good to but not like some of the others. Not to mention Downtown Abbey has been horrible this past season.

  38. Connor says:

    I think the nominees will be Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Homeland, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, and Boardwalk Empire. I love Downton Abbey, but it’s second season was just not strong enough to compete in this category. And I’m sorry, but Once Upon a Time and Revenge? Is this a joke? It is a travesty that OUAT is winning this poll. Breaking Bad deserves to win. Period. No other show on TV is even close.

  39. Connor says:

    I really don’t understand why The Walking Dead is so popular. People always try to tell me how great it is. Well, sorry to break it to you, but an hour where absolutely nothing happens does not constitute “great” or anything even remotely approaching great. I’ve come to the conclusion that people watch it not because it is actually good, but because they are holding out hope that it will be. Unfortunately, that will never happen. The show is terrible, and the fact that it gets 3x as many viewers as Breaking Bad is a travesty.

  40. Giorgio says:

    1. Breaking Bad
    2. Homeland
    3. Revenge
    4. Game of Thrones
    5. Justified
    6. Boardwalk Empire

    Mad Men is no longer what it use to be, past its peak and time to see it go while its still good, Dexter the same, season 2 of Downton Abbey was just OK, the Walking Dead was dead after season 1. Revenge might surprise people, its a quality show that mixes drama, soap, thriller, noire, crime with the classic novel Count of Monte Cristo, also some themes from Odysseus(Argo=Sammy), etc. has great acting, wardrobe, is well written, really well filmed. The best new show of the season along with Homeland.

  41. Beasmom says:

    Castle! Enough said. Castle slander is obvious a vice used by viewers who are not a part of Castle Fandom or 4 yr veterans of the show. Castle along with several other non-cable shows rival The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, etc in acting, writing, popularity and the list goes on. When the Emmy Gods begin to consider quality shows…then Castle will receive its long overdue nod and award. Hollywood politics destroy the value of the Emmys.