Emmys

Emmys 2015: Outstanding Drama Series — Our 7 Dream Nominees!

Emmys’ Breaking Bad era is over — its 2014 win as Outstanding Drama Series rewarding its final slate of episodes — which means there could/should be fresh blood in the category this year.

Still, the jury is out on whether the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will go super-duper fresh, or shrug its shoulders and add just one new series to its Downton Abbey-Mad Men-House of Cards lineup.

We at TVLine engaged in some ferocious debate about which Emmy staples, oft-snubbed gems and dazzling newcomers ought to be on the drama ballot for 2015 — and all week long we’ll be sharing our picks in the dramatic acting categories, too.

Check out the gallery below — or click here for direct access — then tell us if our picks warrant a “Yesss!”/”Noooo!”/trip to the guillotine!

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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115 Comments
  1. I love The Flash, but that over the amazing second season of The 100? Nope.

  2. I hope these are the nominees and I think The Americans might actually win.
    House of Cards
    Better Call Saul
    The Americans
    Game of Thrones
    Mad Men
    Empire
    Justified

    • abz says:

      House of Cards’ third season was terrible in my opinion or at least subpar to the first two seasons. I understood what their goal was with the season and what they were trying to do, but I just found it long, boring and frustrating at times, not to mention how stupid what they did to Rachel. It really made me consider whether or not I should actually bother watching next season. Don’t think it should be nominated based on this past season.

    • rawley says:

      No to House of Cards and no to this season of Game of Thrones.

  3. rachelb says:

    where is how to get away with murder like wtf tvline

    • Angela says:

      I believe this is meant to focus on bringing attention to shows that might not be as likely to get Emmy nods in the hopes they will perhaps get a nomination or two. People are pretty much already assuming “How to Get Away with Murder” will for certain get some Emmy nominations, hence why it’s not in here.

      • Lizo says:

        And that’s why Game of Thrones got included? Cause that’s a show that’s gotten snubbed by the Emmy’s. /sarcasm

        • Angela says:

          Oh, it hasn’t? I haven’t seen that show, so I don’t follow the news and awards information surrounding it. I have heard people complain about genre series not always getting attention from the Emmys, though, and this year with so many other notable dramas ending or having particularly strong years, maybe they fear “Game of Thrones” might be overlooked this go-round.
          And that was just my assumption as to why “How to Get Away with Murder” wasn’t included in here, I could be wrong, too. The title DOES say “dream list”, after all, so maybe it’s a mix of shows they want to get some Emmy love and shows that it’s very obvious will get nominations, but which they’d root for all the same. If that’s the case, then I would share in the surprise over “How to Get Away with Murder” not getting picked for this category. Perhaps they’re saving any nominations related to that show for the best actor/actress categories or something, who knows?

    • abz says:

      I definitely enjoyed HTGAWM, but as best series I don’t think it should be nominated. But Viola Davis needs to be nominated for Best Dramatic Actress for the show along with Vera Farmiga, Taraji P. Henson, Eva Green, and Julianna Margulies.

    • zac says:

      HTGAWM is a bit overrated. I like it very much but there are still better dramas than this one. Viola Davis though killed every scene she was in.

    • Ally Oop says:

      I really struggled with HTGAWM. It was an ok show but I kind of had to force myself to watch the whole season.I found it so pretentious, monotonous and full of characters I really didn’t care about.

  4. Ralph Hartman says:

    I know it won’t be nominated but where’s the love for Sons of Anarchy. It had a amazing final season.

    • Dude says:

      No it really didn’t. There’s nothing amazing about making everyone conveniently stupid to service plot.

      • Ralph Hartman says:

        I don’t know what you’re talking about. The final 4 episodes were phenomenal with some of the best acting I’ve ever seen.

    • abz says:

      While I agree with you on the lack of Emmy loves for SoA over the years, the last season was just not that good. It was more annoying than good. Sure it had its great moments. But overall I’d say that season was not Emmy worthy. I still wish Maggie Siff got an Emmy nomination for her final season. She was amazing.

  5. Season 2 of Masters of Sex falls within the eligibility period. I’d hold that show over Empire any day.

  6. Al says:

    I love Empire but it seems more of a guilty pleasure than a Emmy winning drama- take away the leads and the writing is just mediocre.
    The Flash is good too just not that good.

    • jake says:

      The writing and the storylines are great as well — you forget there are twists and turns — not easy to do.

    • DW says:

      I really like EMPIRE and have not missed an episode…very, very entertaining. But it is a glossy soap opera and certainly not high drama. Popular and fun to watch, yes! Best Drama material, absolutely not.

    • Ally Oop says:

      Empire had some great moments and I really liked it but I think the acting was what made it sing although the dialogue was written incredibly well. I’m not sure it was good enough for a best drama nom but it definitely deserves an honourable mention.

    • Annie says:

      “Take away the leads”

      I’m pretty sure that we can say this about any show. The leads are one of the reason why the show works.

  7. Steven says:

    Better Call Saul
    How to Get Away With Murder
    The 100
    Empire
    Orange is the New Black
    The Good Wife (Even if it was a lackluster season)
    Chicago Fire (I find this show so addicting)

    • Steven says:

      Actually remove Chicago Fire and add Daredevil. By far the most superior superhero show out there right now.

    • Okay Dude says:

      Empire and the 100?
      It’s the Emmys, not the teen choice awards!

      • Steven says:

        You can’t knock my dream nominees. I know The 100 will never actually be nominated. Empire might though.

        • Okay Dude says:

          Will it? As of late, the category has been dominated by cable. A broadcast show, particularly one as consumerist as Empire, isn’t likely to make the cut. And, at the risk of sounding subjective, I think the acting was great and the writing was slightly above par, but its aesthetic is mostly that of a commercial show, and not one made for critics, wouldn’t you agree?

          • Steven says:

            While I agree it’s not Emmy Worthy, Empire has become one of the biggest shows in recent memory and I can definitely see the Emmy want to jump on that bandwagon. Plus shows that are terrible get nominated all the time. Look at Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory.

    • DW says:

      The Good Wife remains one of television’s finest and the best on broadcast. Team TVLine is out of step here with this omission. Split screening Alicia and Kalinda is no reason to not list the show but I’ll bet it had something to do with it.

      • abz says:

        Agreed. I know how much criticism this past season had, but even a not-so-great season of The Good Wife is better than many shows out there. And for the record, even though this season wasn’t as good as the superb fifth season and it definitely wasn’t without it’s issues (what show doesn’t have issues?), it was still pretty great.

        • DW says:

          Agreed. The 6th season really took off with the Cary arrest and trial arc. It was terrific. Then the show went off on the long election arc for the 2nd half of the season and it was laborious compared to the 1st half of the season. Still, The show is so far ahead of the others in writing, acting, directing, and production values that even a not-so-great season was great to watch.

  8. AddieM says:

    I’m hoping for these:
    How to Get Away with Murder
    The Flash
    Game of Thrones
    Bates Motel
    Sons of Anarchy
    Masters of Sex
    Empire

  9. Nick says:

    I too loved the Flash but if we’re going to go with a CW show, it’s the 100 hands down.

    • Drew says:

      Season 2 of The 100 dragged. It was too long and got boring. Add to that some horrible character choices by the writers (the massacre) and I don’t think the show was nearly strong enough.
      I think The Flash is a solid show, but too light to win for best drama. If it were aiming for hardcore drama, the bar would be much higher.

  10. buttercupp85 says:

    Ummm… Outlander anybody? I literally clicked on this to see if it was on the list and I was sadly disappointed. Hopefully it will at least make the list for best actor/actress.

    And yes, SOA should be, but it’s never acknowledged for anything. So I got used to it. But yes SOA also deserves a nod.

    • Rose says:

      Definitely! Outlander truly deserves at least a nomination. All the leads were breathtakingly stellar.

    • ninergrl6 says:

      YES to Outlander!!! I’m truly shocked that didn’t make this “dream” list, but Penny Dreadful did? Really? Great acting from Eva Green, but the storylines are all over the place, even more so in season 2. And I love Game of Thrones, but the first half of this season draaaaagged. I don’t watch all 7 of the shows that were picked, but I know Outlander’s freshman season was better than at least PD & GoT. Maybe the TV Line staff thinks Outlander is too obvious & wanted to promote more “long shot” options?

      • Simon Jester says:

        I’d also pick PENNY DREADFUL over OUTLANDER in a heartbeat. I was not so impressed with the latter is it was with itself.

        • Ally Oop says:

          I think Outlander deserves love. However, the genre (historical romance) is always overlooked in literary recognition so why expect better when it comes to television? Outlander would definitely be a dream nominee for me though.

    • lori says:

      YES thank you. Also Bloodline, don’t know if thats eligible, but it’s excellent?

    • abz says:

      SoA definitely should have been acknowledged over the years, but I thought that the final season wasn’t really that great.

      • buttercupp85 says:

        Agreed. SOA should have been recognized way earlier on, and besides 1 or 2 stand alone episodes, this last season was the weakest. So nominated on the last season only… I can understand how it wouldn’t make the cut. But SOA is the most underrated drama ever IMO.

    • I was totally surprised not to see Outlander on the list too!

  11. Person of Interest. I never thought I’d get emotional over a machine that has no face and spoke only in text.

  12. Rose says:

    Really? The Flash and The Leftovers? What about Outlander? So deserving of awards for production, and particularly acting.

  13. Alright, I’ll be the one. The Walking Dead.

    • Bookworm says:

      I said it too. The Walking Dead gets snubbed year after year, it would be nice to see a nomination for something other than makeup.

  14. Jen says:

    I hate to be this person, but really, The Flash? The Best Drama category attempts to narrow down “The best of the best” in drama. While it’s an entertaining show (yes, I do watch), it’s far from being what I’d consider outstanding television. Interesting how something like The Flash can get included, but amazing series like Outlander, Bates Motel, Masters of Sex, Better Call Saul, etc. get ignored.

    I do like some of your choices, though, including Empire, The Americans, Game of Thrones, and The Leftovers. However, most of them won’t get nominated. Game of Thrones and Penny Dreadful will get ignored because The Emmy’s are notorious for ignoring genre shows. The Flash won’t get nominated because, well, let’s face it, it’s not Emmy worthy. Some think Justified will basically get a ‘pity nomination’ because it was the final season, but I doubt it. I don’t have anything bad to say about The Leftovers, but my gut says it will be ignored. The only 2 shows in your list I can see getting nominations are Empire and The Americans, but I wouldn’t put it past them to ignore The Americans, yet again.

    I will say, Empire is basically a 100% guarantee it will get nominated. Is it Emmy worthy? Not really, in my opinion. BUT, The Emmy’s are notorious for awarding the most talked about and buzz worthy shows/actors/performances, not the “best of the best.” Considering that Empire has made the biggest splash in entertainment that I’ve seen in years, it’s all but confirmed it’s getting nominated.

  15. Amanda says:

    I agree about “Empire” and “The Flash”, and “Mad Men” and “House of Cards are a given. “Bloodline” was fantastic and should be in there too.

    • Okay Dude says:

      I can hardly believe that people think Empire and Flash should be among the ranks of True Detective and Fargo.

      • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

        (Just for the record, lest people get confused: Neither FARGO nor TRUE DETECTIVE are eligible for this year’s Emmys.)

    • abz says:

      Why is House of Cards a given? This most recent season was completely inferior to the first two. It just wasn’t really that good.

  16. Fran says:

    Justified absolutely has to get nominated. What a great final season.

  17. webly3 says:

    These are the first noms that I really disagree with. My noms:

    The Americans
    Game of Thrones
    Justfied
    Mad Men
    Orange Is the New Black
    The Walking Dead
    Unknown 7th slot

    We agree on:
    The Americans
    Game of Thrones
    Justified

    But, OITNB is tragically missing. The Walking Dead is also missing which is a show that is tragically unrecognized by any award show. I’m not sure what I’d do for the other 3 exactly. But, including The Leftovers? Yes, the acting was great. But, the material was not. It was all over the place. And, The Flash’s season wasn’t as strong as some people argue. I’d also prefer The 100 over The Flash. I haven’t seen Penny Dreadful so I can’t judge that one! Empire is okay. However, if it didn’t do as well in the ratings – would it even be on this list? I’m not sure.

    • Jax&Juice's Girl says:

      MY PICKS ARE:
      Sons Of Anarchy
      The Walking Dead
      Justified
      How To Get Away With Murder
      Game Of Thrones
      Empire
      Out of all those JUSTIFIED cause that finale season/finale was F-in awesome

  18. Mr. Tran K says:

    My dream nominees for Best Drama Series: Empire, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and The Americans. Ruled out Homeland because it had a great bounce back season but it ended with a lackluster finale.

  19. Dude says:

    Come on. I love Empire as much as the next guy and it’s a great guilty pleasure soap but it’s not “Best Drama” material. And citing its portrayal of bipolar disorder is laughable seeing as it’s the most dangerously and appalling unrealistic portrayal of bipolar disorder I’ve ever seen.

  20. Dude says:

    The Americans, The Good Wife, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Person of Interest, Orphan Black, Bates Motel

  21. Jay says:

    Where’s Orphan Black? Still definitely one of the best shows on television, and certainly deserves many Emmy Noms.

  22. JenE says:

    OUTLANDER! OUTLANDER! OUTLANDER! OUTLANDER! OUTLANDER! OUTLANDER! OUTLANDER! OUTLANDER! OUTLANDER! OUTLANDER! OUTLANDER! OUTLANDER!

  23. Jerry says:

    It’s the Emmys so we all know it’s gonna be six out of these seven: Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Better Call Saul, and Homeland.

  24. Cobra says:

    Not only does “Justified” deserve a nod, it deserves the win.

  25. Jooshua says:

    I’m hoping there is a big Empire presence at the Emmys this year.
    Also hope for some Daredevil nods, at least Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk.

  26. GeoDiva says:

    The Leftovers? Really?

  27. jr says:

    Justified should’ve won a long time ago for best series, it is just one of the best series e i think the most underrated, this year is tough but i think it can win

  28. Terri says:

    Where is Outlander????

  29. Bookworm says:

    I would love to see The Walking Dead finally get a nomination. They get ignored year after year for everything but makeup

  30. prish says:

    The husband and I say Flash and Grant Gustin deserve Emmys.

  31. Terri says:

    Don’t think I actually watch any of those, though The Americans is on my “to do” list. My choices are:
    Outlander
    The Affair
    The Good Wife
    Homeland
    Castle (ok, ok, ok…I know it’ll never happen)
    Would love to add House of Cards, but I was a little bored this season.

  32. scorpio says:

    i love that the caption under joffrey is “30 Celebs That Walked Away From The Spotlight” um more like purple strangled ;)

  33. matty says:

    Um… what about The Good Wife?

  34. Leah says:

    Would love to see Justified nominated, but as long as Downton Abbey doesn’t get nominated again, I’m good with whatever.

  35. annna says:

    Game of Thrones doesn’t deserve to be nominated for anything. How can you support a show that used rape as a plot device?

  36. Liz says:

    You forgot OUTLANDER !!

  37. Guest says:

    Game of Thrones is an awesome show, it deserves at least one win in the best drama category if not more.

  38. Nick says:

    A lot of people are criticizing The Flash here…not sure any of them have watched it. It’s one of the best shows on TV, hands down. I’d be thrilled if it was nominated for an Emmy.

    • KCC says:

      After The Flash appeared on this list I thought I’d check it out. So far I’ve watched the first 3 episodes and I must say I’m not impressed. I’ll continue to watch as the repeats air, out of respect for TVLine and to give it a little more time to develop, but at this point it would not make my regular viewing list let alone a list of potential Emmy nominees. The writing has to improve quite a bit in my opinion.

  39. Eric7740 says:

    SInce when has a WB/CW show EVER gotten any Emmy love??? (in the major catergories)

  40. Isa says:

    My choices:

    Supernatural (because gosh darnit, it needs some love even if last season wasn’t the best)
    Orphan Black (best writing, best acting, PEERLESS)
    Justified
    Bates Motel
    Person of Interest
    Ray Donovan

    You know who I’d like not to get nommed? Anything by Shonda Rhimes because her characters are some of the most unlikable, poorly acted, morally bankrupt characters EVER. Esp. Scandal – awful, awful AWFUL.

  41. Ally Oop says:

    The 10 best dramas on tv that I watch are:
    Downton Abbey
    Vikings
    Orphan Black
    Call the Midwife
    Parenthood
    Outlander
    Nashville
    Empire
    Orange is the New Black
    The 100

    Note: The above list contains the shows I watch that I think deserve recognition; it’s not just a list of my favourites (some of my faves didn’t make the list like Reign, The Originals and The Royals).

    • Ally Oop says:

      I agree with you about Shonda’s shows. While I still like Grey’s and it’s characters, I find the characters on HTGAWM and Scandal atrocious.

  42. Ally Oop says:

    The 100 is definitely better than The Flash. Not to say The Flash isn’t good, because it is,but The 100 is just on a whole other level. However as a young adult sci-fi show it doesn’t have a chance at an Emmy.

  43. The Breaking Bad era might be over, but I wouldn’t be surprised by a nomination for Better Call Saul. If not for best drama, there will be one for Bob Odenkirk or Jonathan Banks.

  44. Annie says:

    I hope that Empire gets a nod, but I think that a lot of critics will focus more on Cookie’s one liners, and ignore the rest of the show. The elevator scene between the three brothers was one of the best scenes that I’ve watched this year, and that entire episode deserves some recognition.

  45. Traci says:

    I would have chosen Outlander as number 1 of your top 6. The Flash number 2. Then the rest. ;)

  46. @norhtatt65 says:

    There are many good shows listed but, as a new series, Flash deserves a strong look. You yourselves say it’s “intricately plotted, unabashedly earnest and emotional storytelling was a beacon of light among TV’s many comic book based shows.” It’s a tribute both to the writers and the cast to create such a memorable and addicting show. Just the emotion alone would speak well for the show. Some of the emotional scenes with Grant Gustin felt too real drawing a strong empathy toward the character and show.

  47. Kellen says:

    Parenthood should get a nomination for its last tear-inducing season.

  48. Chase says:

    Person Of Interest, Enough said. these past two season’s have been amazing.

  49. Nala says:

    The Flash? LOL. No. It’s fun but not deserving of Emmy noms. Besides Jane The Virgin, the only other CW worthy of an Emmy nom is The 100. You all only overlook it because of it’s ratings.

  50. Kim Uhrich says:

    I don’t understand all the criteria the academy has to consider, but just fail to understand why certain weekly dramas that has stood the test of time and popularity such as the NCIS series or Blue Bloods never receive so much as a nomination in ANY category? This is why the Emmy Awards just don’t interest me much the way they used to!