TV Surveillance Dream Emmy Ballot: Outstanding Drama Series

This week I’ll be pretending that I have an Emmy vote and discussing my picks for all the major categories. Once it gets closer to the time that nominees are actually announced, I’ll do an official “picks” column. Today: Outstanding Drama Series!

This is it folks. After two weeks, the Dream Emmy Ballot is finally complete. I hope you enjoyed reading them all as much as I’ve enjoyed posting them.

The drama category might not be as packed as the comedy battle, but there are still a lot of players in the game. I think my ballot is a nice mix of sure-fire nominees and not-a-chance-in-hell nominees. Let’s do this thing.

Breaking Bad

It will be interesting to see if the ever-raising profile of the AMC’s second critically acclaimed series can help it top Mad Men. I think most people would say that Breaking Bad won the war of the third seasons and had its most complete season to-date. Hell, I’ve read a few pieces that suggest season three of Breaking Bad is one of the best individual season of television, ever. I’ll have to watch it again to decide if I feel that way, but I am certain that there wasn’t anything as consistently awesome this season that this series. We know that Bryan Cranston will probably will and Aaron Paul has a very, very good chance of doing the same — but will the series?

Mad Men

And of course, for Breaking Bad to win this fall, it will have to top its AMC relative, the series that has won this award a few times in a row now. It’s kind of weird how the dark glow of Breaking Bad has cast a long shadow on the Mad Men season that ended a long time ago, but even if Bad was better, Men was still damn good. This season had more enjoyable individual episodes but faltered with crafting a totally solid season-long arc. Obviously, the Emmy voters are charmed by Mad Men and for good reason. It perhaps doesn’t deserve to take the crown again this year, but if it wins, I’m not sure people are going to raise a whole lot of hell.


Yes, there were some fairly substantial issues with Lost‘s sixth and final season. But at this point, it’s nearly impossible to separate those issues from our too-huge expectations, and at the same time, it’s nearly impossible to still not be on a high after the fantastic series finale “The End.” In that sense, the highs of season six were some of the best moments in series history, so despite the ugly lows, Lost deserves one final nomination before it disappears from the awards circuit. I think it’s a guaranteed nominee, but the chances of it coming close to the win are much slimmer at this point.

Friday Night Lights

And here is where we get to the “dream” part of the ballot. Half and half is a solid deal, right? I can’t imagine many critics or die-hard fans of FNL that would disagree with this one, though. Season three is probably the series’ high-point, but season four has accomplished many things, especially with so many different balls in the air. Though they haven’t nailed it every time, I have never seen a series that’s balanced the departure of main characters with the building up of new ones so well. And of course, I cannot mention Friday Night Lights without mentioning how in tune it is with the American family. The emotions, the psychology, it’s all here in every scene.


This is the longest shot of them all considering the Emmy voters won’t touch overt science fiction series with a 40-foot stick. However, I’d consider myself a geek and I watch a lot of genre programming, so I felt like I should acknowledge one series from that bracket. But even if I wasn’t, it’s hard to deny the strides Fringe made throughout its stellar second season. The series fixed all its season one problems by re-focusing on the characters, avoiding listless standalone episodes and making the mythology permeate even the most simplistic of premises. And although it’s a sci-fi procedural, Fringe does just as good of a job at creating a distinct place as all the other series on this list. The odd mash-up between super-advanced science and old-school analog technology is a delight to watch.


I gotta be honest: If I had finished season two of Sons of Anarchy by this point, it would probably be the FX series holding down the final slot. I don’t mean to take anything away from Justified, though, because if SoA would have been on here, I might have had to pull an Emmys and put seven nominees here. Anyway, Justified is a series that debuted with an extremely strong pilot that promised many things — and then didn’t deliver most of those things for four episodes. That was a little frustrating, but by the time the series started telling stories that were more personal to Raylan and began analyzing what the hell it would be like to come home to this kind of community, it stepped into another level of awesome. I think the new FX drama has an outside chance of grabbing a nomination, but it’s probably 9th or 10th on the list.

Well, that’s it! I’ll be back with more Emmy chatter once we get closer to the nominations being released. Thanks for reading everyone.

Past days of the Dream Ballot

Outstanding Comedy Series

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Writing for a Drama Series

Writing for a Comedy Series


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