Emmys 2013: The Drama Series Race in Review, Including Our 6 Dream Nominees

Emmy Best Drama Series NomineesThe shows that have won the best drama Emmy for the past five years, AMC’s Mad Men and Showtime’s Homeland, both have been going through up-and-down seasons recently. That is not expected to affect the awards juggernauts’ nomination chances, but it does open the door to an upset come September from likely contenders Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey.

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

Review the following slideshow of the major contenders — including TVLine’s Dream Nominees — then hit the comments to vote for who you think are the six best. And check back Tuesday as we tackle the Outstanding Drama Actor 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. ASHLEY says:


    • Jennifer says:


      • LadyNi says:

        Scandal for the intensity and edgeness of reality tv ,.. scenes that make you say hmmmm….
        Dalla – although preemptied and not on the list due to the death of Larry Hagman
        Greys Anatomy – yes it is holding strong with its own drama as the interns rotate through
        Homeland – only saw once but it is also intense reality tv
        Shameless – is just shameless and often leaves you speechless

      • lavonda says:


    • Brigette says:

      Correct. Dexter’s season finale gave Showtime it’s highest ratings EVER. It’s more relevant now than when you were nominating it years ago, come ON Emmy people!!!

    • Richelle says:

      Top Six!! Scandal, Mad Men, Dexter, Shameless, The Americans and possibly Breaking Bad

  2. sara says:

    Most of these are really great, it’s a really great crop of choices this year. Though the Newsroom is far below par.

  3. Raver says:

    The Americans or Game Of Thrones!
    Both are Amazing Shows, Amazing casts – both keep me on the edge of my seat!

  4. DL says:

    Regarding the Game of Thrones pick, I think we can add Michelle Fairley to the list of GoT actors who might receive recognition, alongside Peter Dinklage.

    • Aprilcot says:

      Agreed! I would also love to Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau get a nod. His portrayal of Jaime this year has been breathtaking.

      • Tahoe Mike says:

        Yes, Game of Thrones. There are so many great performances but my vote goes to Maisie Williams (Arya), she has been amazing. Diana Rigg has also be awesome in every scene she has been in.
        Most of the actors in this show are amazing and I could list a dozen of them here, but I’ll stop.

  5. kimberly says:

    Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, Homeland, Scandal, The Americans, House of Cards

  6. Connie Britton and Michelle Fairley Emmy noms please!

    • dude says:

      Love me some Connie Britton but she doesn’t deserve a nomination. As great as she is, she wasn’t given the material and her performance just wasn’t deserving of recognition. Hayden Panettiere on the other hand NEEDS to be recognized!

      • Kelsey says:

        Agree COMPLETELY about Hayden! I think her character is honestly one of my favorite on TV right now, and she really gives Juliette a humanity and portrays her beautifully. I think she’s far too often looked over as just a pretty fact, and that’s a terrible shame.

  7. Shameless and Suits before Continuum? What’s wrong with you, Michael? Flat out, what do you have against this show? Because it’s a Canadian import? Continuum belongs in the Emmy mix as much as Downton Abbey, Orphan Black, Copper or any other import that ran on an American TV network.

  8. Neil says:

    Why no love for POI?

    Also, isn’t it about time to separate cable vs network, like they eventually did for drama/comedy? It’s like the American League and National League in MLB. They play by different rules and have their own Cy Young and MVP winners

    • Aprilcot says:

      I think that’s a terrific suggestion. It’s difficult to keep a level playing field and I think that could be a way to bring acclaim to other deserving shows instead of nominating the same things year after year (whether they are still quality or past their prime).

    • A says:

      Definitely agree! What about Person of Interest? Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel are excellent actors on this show.

    • kel says:

      On a list that has Elementary and Scandal I can’t believe POI is not even on the list! Not that any of them actually has a chance but I don’t get the lack of POI love from this site. Did Reese kneecap their friend or something?

    • johnhelvete says:

      There is nothing stopping the networks from doing 13 episode run of shows, or going out of the way to actually stick with a show regardless of ratings if the show is of high quality. Hannibal on NBC is a really graphic show that I don’t think would be that much different if it aired on cable. Unless you think that cable shows only win Emmys based on nudity and the ability to have characters say the F word.

      The networks care about appealing to as many people as possible for the highest possible ratings. If the Emmys are actually important to the networks, than why not take bigger creative risks and try to have at least one prestige show on the network? CBS has The Good Wife. NBC at least is doing something different with Hannibal. Why can’t ABC or Fox have one show that is their prestige show.

      • Neil says:

        You’re missing my point. Emmy has already changed the rules before. There was no distinction between comedy and drama. That is a fairly recent phenomenon. Based on precedent, they should separate cable and network. Recognizing more great TV can only help save a medium that is already in decline

        • johnhelvete says:

          The ratings are the only thing in decline for the networks not the medium itself, . There is actually tons of really great TV right now. TV does not need to be saved. The Emmys have been giving out separate awards for drama and comedy since 1952, though for some reason the Emmys did not give a drama award in 1965.

    • Anna says:

      No one grows up dreaming of winning a medal at the Special Olympics (ok, I’m sure many do, but But winning a Network Emmy…well, no…

    • LLL says:


    • I agree POI is top note writing and acted, deserves more than Elementary.

  9. Scandal and THE WALKING DEAD over Mad Men? That’s an insane thing to say, even when where discussing a subjective list, I’m sorry.

    If it was Parenthood or Southland over Mad Men, I’d keep my mouth shut.

    My list: Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Southland, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Parenthood.

  10. Heisenberg says:

    Game of Thrones!!!
    Breaking Bad!!
    Sons of Anarchy!!
    The Americans!

  11. Pretty solid choices. My dream ballot this year:

    – Breaking Bad
    – Game of Thrones
    – Homeland
    – Orphan Black
    – Sons of Anarchy
    – The Walking Dead
    Unlucky: Mad Men, Justified, Southland

  12. hedi says:

    If Hannibal doesn’t get a nomination , Emmy proves to be the laziest awards bc of not watching new shows and keep watching the old good ones like BB or GOT . Which I’m sick to see their nominations over the years again and again, it’s time to make a difference EMMY! Oh and Hugh Dancy should totally get attention for his amazing work on Hannibal alongside Mads!

  13. Lagando says:

    Scandal is a guilty pleasure, not worthy of a nomination so dream on (I hope). My choices:
    Mad Men
    Bates Motel
    The Americans

  14. R says:

    I would nominate The Americans over The Walking Dead any day, though both are extraordinary.

  15. Chloe says:

    Scandal!! The Good Wife, Game of Thrones & Homeland.

  16. Para says:

    Scandal is not emmy Material; shameless is.

  17. Emily says:

    The main long-shots I’m hoping for is a drama nod for Justified and an acting one for Jennifer Carpenter. Trying not to ask for/expect too much.

  18. Courtney says:

    Breaking Bad, for sure. It should win, for sure.
    Ideally I would love Parenthood and The Good Wife to be included too.

  19. Aprilcot says:

    The only shows I’m really passionate about are GoT and Hannibal. Although I’m sure Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Homeland, and probably Downton Abbey will all get noms, it would be great to see Bates Motel get recognized.

  20. shanise says:

    connie britton,emma rossum and Bryan cranston that is all I am saying. Because nothing needs to be said about these people, you simply just have to watch the awsomeness unfold in your tv-screen.

  21. Sabrina says:

    Orphan Black???

    • Tess says:

      I would love it if Orphan Black got some well deserved noms – the show and Tatiana Maslany deserve some recognition – but aside from a few nods to Luther and The Hour, BBCA shows tend to get overlooked so I’m not holding my breath for it. One other show I’d love to see get some consideration is Call The Midwife. It is a fabulous show and if Downton Abbey can get recognized in spite of being on PBS (as well it should too) then so can Call The Midwife, no?! If any network show is going to get recognized, it will likely be Hannibal but I would prefer a nod to Elementary, personally.

      I would imagine though that if we assume Homeland and Mad Men are locks in spite of having some ups and downs in their respective seasons and Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad are also givens, then that doesn’t leave much space for all these other shows we are suggesting.

  22. Erin says:

    House of Cards deserves all the recognition and more this year

  23. Meeloo86 says:

    Jonny Lee Miller, it’s elemEMMYtary !

  24. I just hope its not all cable shows again. Network dramas are never taken seriously when I reckon they have it harder, creating good quality drama but with restrictions.

    • Lagando says:

      So they should be awarded for not being able to be good? Come on. It’s a shame if any network drama series, except Hannibal, steals a spot from the far superior cable shows.

  25. alwayshappy says:

    My choices would be :

    The Good Wife
    Downton Abbey
    Scandal ( although I haven’t catched up yet )
    Grey’s Anatomy ( it will never be nominated again, but hey, it’s my favorite tv show still atm.

  26. Eric7740 says:

    Mad Men
    Breaking Bad
    Greys Anatomy
    House of Cards

  27. Mel says:

    Both Mad Men and Dexter have been disappointing the past two seasons. I vote Homeland and Breaking Bad, which has the best writing and acting on TV at the moment, IMO. But I love your votes for Suits and Elementary, both entertaining, well written and with top notch acting.

  28. Anna says:

    I love the fact that Suit’s on this list! It’s such a good show and season 2 was amazing!

  29. megan says:

    Sons of Anarchy. Never gonna happen though. They could at least recognize a few of the actors on the show for their superb work. Emmys are always predictable.

    • cas says:

      Agreed! I don’t understand why either. I’ve watched Mad Men and really don’t get what all the fuss is about. It put me right to sleep, but maybe that is what it takes for the Emmy’s. Shameless deserves some Actor noms too. Rossum and Macy are wonderful in their roles.

      • tripoli says:

        Right there with you. I continue to hate watch Mad Men, cause I’m a sucker for punishment, but I just can’t understand the massive praise this snooze fest gets. Both Shameless and Sons of Anrachy are superb and really do deserve some recognition.

      • Sarah says:

        Agree about Shameless, not just Rossum and Macy… they’re all awesome! That show absolutely deserves more awards. Hopefully the cast will be nominated together for a SAG award for Ensemble Performance when the time comes…

  30. A says:

    It’s seriously time that they separate the cable shows from the network shows. It’s really not a level playing field. Network shows have so much more restrictions to overcome while still trying to make good television. The Emmys are basically a Cable Award show and that seriously needs to change. It’s time for other shows to get recognition. I’m tired of watching it every year and having it be the same damn people/shows nominated every year. Sure they’re great shows and actors but so many great and beloved actors and shows are snubbed or ignored. I mean why hasn’t Jennifer Carpenter been nominated? How about Lauren Graham (all the way back to her Gilmore Girls days not one nomination)? And if the Emmys love Cable shows so much, why are USA shows pretty much always ignored/snubbed? I could create an endless list. They need to seriously separate the categories and give more recognition to others rather than its regular roster it seems to have.

    • Nick says:

      I hear the argument all the time that they should separate cable and network shows into two different categories. For me personally, I feel like the Emmy should go to the best on tv, not just the best on network or the best on cable. For me the cable shows aren’t better because they are less restricted. They win because they have tighter story arcs, better acting, and most importantly better WRITING. If networks want to win Emmys again, they need to UP their game, not have new categories specially designated for them.

      • Mike R. says:

        This, if a Network show or a USA show is not up to par, it should not be nominated.

        • A says:

          Of course if a show has bad writing or bad acting than obviously they shouldn’t be nominated. I understand that but some of them are in fact great shows with great actors who rarely get recognized. Sara Ramirez has been amazing on Grey’s Anatomy for years but no nomination. Even if the show hasn’t had the best season recently, she is still consistently amazing with her acting.What about Person of Interest? Fantastic show with great actors and great writing, yet I doubt it will get any recognition. Psych is one of the funniest comedy shows ever yet I’ve never seen James Roday or Dulé Hill nominated for comedic actors or the show, just some random production or whatever nod that is pretty much glossed over. I used to think that Emmys should be towards Best Show or Actor/Actress but after the same repetitive nominations for years and years, if it takes separating cable and network to give other great shows and actors recognition, I’m okay with that.

    • Emily says:

      By your logic, the Academy Awards should be separated into PG vs. R rated categories. And then we’ve got to separate basic cable from premium because they can’t show nudity like premium cable can. Everyone’s got restrictions. The Emmys don’t love cable shows because they’re on cable, they love them because the best shows happen to be on cable at the moment. It isn’t like some of the best shows in TV history haven’t been on network, so we know it can be done. They’re just not doing it right now.

      • Emily says:

        Also, back when network shows dominated, the Emmys still had the same habit it does now of nominating the same shows and actors. West Wing was nominated 7 times. Hugh Laurie, Kiefer Sutherland, Martin Sheen were all nominated six times. Mariska Hargitay has been nominated 8 times.

  31. Sarah says:

    SHAMELESS!!!! It’s hands-down one of the best shows out there. The entire cast is phenomenal and the show pulls at my heartstrings every episode. It baffles me that this show hasn’t seen any Emmy love yet!

  32. Tahoe Mike says:

    I know I’m spitting into the wind here, but I just don’t get why TREME gets absolutely no love on this site. It has been the most original, unique thing I’ve ever seen on TV.

  33. Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Mad men and Downton Abbey. Wild cards: The Newsroom, Dexter, Parenthood, Southland and Sons of Anarchy.

  34. Spencer says:

    I don’t know if Downton needs to win best drama, but the ENTIRE cast needs to get nominated for their superb acting during Sybil’s death. Every single person, especially Cora, had me sobbing.

  35. gayle johnson says:


    Southland is by far the best cop drama that has ever hit the TV screen (and there have been a lot of cop shows over the many years of TV). MICHAEL CUDLITZ portrayal of John Cooper is absolute perfection. I have never seen him in anything else (hopefully that will soon change), but have loved John Cooper from day 1. His acting, along with excellent writing, is superb. Michael has the ability to make you feel that you are not just watching a TV series, you are watching realism. It doesn’t make any difference whether he is speaking in the scene or not. He has the ability to let his eyes speak volumes for John Cooper. MICHAEL IS MOST DEFINITELY EMMY WORTHY!!

  36. Mike R. says:

    Game of Thrones
    Breaking Bad
    Orphan Black
    The Americans

    If either GOT and Breaking Bad wins I’ll be pleased.

  37. Jbkr73 says:

    I would nominate Justified over The Walking Dead. Quality writing deserves recognition over phenomenal ratings. Justified knocked it out of the park this year, episode after episode.

  38. JKR says:

    Homeland, The Americans, House of Cards, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones. The End.

  39. johnhelvete says:

    How can a show (Homeland) that constantly surprised the audience by having big events happen earlier than expected have red herrings?

  40. Adam says:

    My guess is it will be:

    Mad Men
    Game of Thrones
    Breaking Bad
    The Americans
    The Walking Dead

    Even if Mad Men and Homeland didn’t have as beloved seasons, they are still in the top-tier of programming on TV, and Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad have been as good as ever. The Americans and The Walking Dead would be nice to see and have good odds, although Boardwalk Empire does as well. I’d love to see Orphan Black get nominated, but its a long-shot.
    It’d be nice to see a network show, but of those I would guess Hannibal, Parenthood and The Good Wife to be the front-runners over Scandal. I would really fear that The Following will get a nomination, but I think that cable programming is competitive enough to beat it out.

  41. Lisbeth Slander says:

    In my dream world it would be:
    Breaking Bad
    Game of Thrones
    Bates Motel

  42. lilys87 says:

    They should do original/adapted distinctive categories, it has become too good to select only 6 !

    Mine would be :

    Downton Abbey
    Breaking Bad
    The Americans (for the win)
    Parenthood or The Good Wfe, tie :)

  43. rty123 says:

    My 6 dream nominees are

    Game of Thrones
    The Americans
    The Good Wife
    Orphan Black

  44. Karen says:

    My 6 favorite Dramas this TV season, in order:

    Breaking Bad (if this show never get’s the Best Drama Emmy, I’m just gonna assume that most of the voters are assholes!)
    Game of Thrones
    The Good Wife

  45. Talia says:

    My dream nominees with the win going to Game of Thrones for an incredible season.

    The Americans
    Breaking Bad
    Game of Thrones
    House of Cards
    The Newsroom

  46. Swift says:

    Game of Thrones
    Breaking Bad
    Downton Abbey
    House of Cards

    Although you are right about Damages not getting a nom. The emmy voters got bored with it. They nominated it for its worst season and then followed up by not nominating its best season. (Season 3)

  47. Jamie says:

    I’ll guarantee everyone this: Claire Danes and Damien Lewis are locks for nominations and frontrunners to take home the prize simply on the power and gravitas of ” Q&A ” alone. Both performances given in that episode were tour-de-forces and even months later I still stand in awe of the Carrie-Brody conversation. Just stunning!!

  48. The Following! Without a doubt the best new series this year. Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy the emotionally damaged FBI agent facing off against James Purefoy who plays Joe Carroll a psychotic serial killer. The two put on such a show every week, always leaves you on the edge of your seat. Also, it’s a shame The Mentalist isn’t on your list, the show seems to get forgotten about, I don’t know how because it’s the perfect mix of comedy and drama. The CBI are just like one big happy family :)

  49. Kelly says:

    Southland and Once Upon a Time

  50. GTS says:

    I love Scandal, but I don’t think it will get nominated. If you haven’t seen the entire series, it just looks like a show about an old man president cheating on his wife. If I saw that, I wouldn’t vote for it.