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 (305)

  • 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)

    Comment by Pamela – May 30, 2012 04:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Lady Mary Crawley Crawley – May 30, 2012 04:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by LacyMB – May 30, 2012 04:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Kira – May 30, 2012 04:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • 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.

      Comment by Superhero – May 30, 2012 11:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Margaux – May 30, 2012 04:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • 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.

      Comment by Kira – May 30, 2012 06:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I have watched it…religiously, in fact….for 3 1/2 seasons, but it became absolutely unwatchable after the winter hiatus.

        Comment by CJ – May 31, 2012 09:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The character development on Castle is first rate. All 4 principle characters get air time and are really good actors.

      Comment by Joy – May 30, 2012 06:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by A.J. – May 30, 2012 04:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by This – May 30, 2012 04:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Stephen S. – May 30, 2012 05:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Trish (@pbuchanan1965) – May 30, 2012 05:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I voted 6 but the 2 I’m favoring to is TWD and OUAT.

    Comment by Ed – May 30, 2012 05:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Smash? Scandel? Really?? Seriously?? Where’s Awake?? Where the HELL is Criminal Minds!!??

    Comment by Jennifer – May 30, 2012 06:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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)

    Comment by SVUnCI – May 30, 2012 06:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Ana – May 30, 2012 06:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I would hope the people doing the actual nominations have better taste than the idiots voting in this poll

    Comment by LiftLaughLust (@LiftLaughLust) – May 30, 2012 07:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Can’t I just vote for Downton Abbey six times?

    Comment by Dana – May 30, 2012 09:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Britta Unfiltered – May 30, 2012 09:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by lala-world – May 31, 2012 12:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • FRINGE, you cotton candy-brained Potassium bromate-eater!

    Comment by Kacsa – May 31, 2012 06:12 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by valerie tower – May 31, 2012 07:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • My choices are:
    Game of Thrones
    Breaking Bad
    Mad Men

    Comment by MARIAPOMPEO – May 31, 2012 07:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • SOUTHLAND, SOUTHLAND, SOUTHLAND for the upset! Give the little show that could it’s due, Emmy!

    Comment by Deb (@Bluegrassbabe3) – May 31, 2012 12:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wow, lots of hate on Once here. Four words: Robert Carlyle Lana Parrilla.

    Comment by Lyana – May 31, 2012 05:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Anyone who hates Once Upon A Time doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. Just ignore them.

      Comment by Gaz – May 31, 2012 05:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by anna – May 31, 2012 05:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by yourheartsighs – May 31, 2012 06:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Nicole – May 31, 2012 06:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The fact that Parenthood isn’t on this list is freaking insane! That show is the best series on television!

    Comment by Fabian Bogdan – May 31, 2012 07:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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?

    Comment by CJ – May 31, 2012 09:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • 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! :)

      Comment by Nicole – May 31, 2012 11:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • SUITS?!! Are you joking????? That crap doesn’t deserve any noms!!

      Comment by Spencer – June 8, 2012 08:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • MadMen is most deserving. Nothing else even comes close to this season. If it doesn’t win, I will be shocked.

    Comment by gailer – June 4, 2012 08:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Summer of Castle (@AlwaysCastle47) – June 5, 2012 09:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ok did someone on Castle step on your foot and forgot to apologize? You completely missed it and its actors/actresses!!!!!

    Comment by Chiara – June 6, 2012 06:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

    Comment by KenyAlways – June 8, 2012 07:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • REVENGE!!!!

    Comment by Spencer – June 8, 2012 08:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Kim Lewis – June 11, 2012 11:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • It doesn’t deserve to be recognized for anything. The show is garbage.

      Comment by Connor – June 23, 2012 08:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Shameless for the win!

    Comment by Gogo – June 13, 2012 06:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Anon – June 16, 2012 05:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • 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.

      Comment by Connor – June 22, 2012 06:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • House and Once Upon a Time

    Comment by navistart – June 16, 2012 04:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Cassie – June 22, 2012 01:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Connor – June 22, 2012 07:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Connor – June 23, 2012 08:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Giorgio – June 29, 2012 10:10 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 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.

    Comment by Beasmom – July 18, 2012 05:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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