2011 Primetime Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Drama and Comedy Series

The 2011 Primetime Emmys are so close! September 18th to be exact. Up until the ceremony airs on FOX, I’ll be working through most of the major categories and discussing who could win, who should win and of course, who will win. I’ll likely be tackling two categories in each post, just so you know.

Well here we are folks, the end of the Emmy-predicting road. The ceremony is just a few short days away and it’s time to discuss the all-important series races. These two categories are definitely more predictable than some of the performance races, but that’s OK. We can pretend that series other than Modern Family and Mad Men have a chance to win.

Outstanding Drama Series


  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Dexter
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Good Wife
  • Mad Men

What won’t happen: This is a rock-solid group of dramas. I would have replaced Dexter with Justified, but otherwise, I can’t complain about what the voters chose to nominated. If this were a perfect world, all five of the good nominees would have a shot (let’s just pretend that Dexter didn’t get nominated because A.) it sure as hell didn’t deserve to be and B.) won’t win). We can never guess what the true value of sentiment is, but if there is a case to be made for it, Friday Night Lights is that case. After 60+ episodes of moving drama, the Jason Katims-run series is worth celebrating in its final year of eligibility. After watching AMC and Mad Men dominate for a few years, HBO is back in the race full-force with two brand-new, shiny toys. Boardwalk Empire has all sorts of fire-power behind it and people arguably liked Game of Thrones better anyway, despite a general aversion to fantasy and science fiction. And then we have the other two returning nominees, The Good Wife and Mad Men, who most think have the best shot to win this award anyway. At best, however, this is a three-series race. Dexter is definitely out and unfortunately, so are Game of Thrones and Friday Night Lights. The former might need another great season to fully rinse away any fantasy taboos and the latter just isn’t flashy enough. The nomination is going to have to be it.

What could happen: That leaves us with Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife and Mad Men. Throughout these posts, I’ve been creating this battle between Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men and that throwdown culminates here obviously. You know it has to drive HBO nuts that they passed on Matthew Weiner’s script all those years ago and it probably drives them just as nuts that they haven’t been winning awards in this category. Boardwalk Empire is their best chance. The Good Wife is far and away the best drama on network television and it reached even higher highs in season two. If the voters decide they want to mix things up and get away from Mad Men, a well-made, well-intentioned broadcast drama, Wife is sitting right there.

Who should win: I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but I’d give it to Friday Night Lights. It’s the final season and a damn good one at that. FNL is never going to have another chance and the other two series that I would lend some support for (Mad Men and The Good Wife) have either already won or will have a number of opportunities to do so in the future.

What will happen: There is an outside chance that Boardwalk Empire fever sweeps through the voting block and it takes this award (along with many others) and there’s an even smaller one that The Good Wife shocks everyone – in a good way. But I wouldn’t put any money on either of those possibilities. If you’re a gambler, this category is a stay away. Mad Men is going to win and after one hell of a fourth season, I’m absolutely fine with that (despite my FNL adoration).

Outstanding Comedy Series


  • 30 Rock
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Glee
  • Modern Family
  • Parks and Recreation
  • The Office

What won’t happen: This race feels inherently less interesting and competitive than the drama race for two reasons. One, Modern Family is still new enough that voters are still falling in love with it, meaning there probably isn’t much any other series can do to win. Two, the other nominees are kind of a drag. Parks and Recreation was an amazingly pleasant surprise and I liked this season of 30 Rock a whole lot, but the Big Bang Theory/Glee/Office trio feels me with malaise. The first is just unfunny, the second is generally awful and the third is mediocre with a few great performances. This is Modern Family’s race to lose. But, let’s pretend we don’t live in an unfair world and do some prognosticating. The Office’s time has passed and unfortunately, Parks and Recreation’s time hasn’t come yet (if it ever will). Neither one of them have much of a chance to win. I also don’t see much happening for Glee. The number of nominations for the FOX series went down this year and if it couldn’t grab the win last year when the type was as loud and frequent as possible, it’s probably not going to happen after a disastrous second season that NO ONE would admit to loving.

What could happen: That leaves with three nominees: Modern Family, Big Bang Theory and 30 Rock. 30 Rock dominated the comedy side of the things for three years and while it is hard to picture the Tina Fey comedy taking control back from Modern Family, this season was good enough to do so. Season five of 30 Rock was much better than season two of Modern Family. I strongly dislike The Big Bang Theory, but it appears as though Emmy voters are warming to it. Jim Parsons won last year, Johnny Galecki joined him in the Lead Actor category this year and now the series itself has grabbed a nomination. It makes very little sense why Big Bang would beat the likes of Parks and Recreation 30 Rock and Modern Family, but making little sense is kind of what the Emmys do. So.

What should happen: Parks and Recreation is far and away the best series in this category and in the minds of most, the best comedy on television. I might have a personal preference for Community, but I adore Parks and Recreation almost as much. Season three featured a 16-episode run that will we probably be talking about in 10 years.

What will happen: Modern Family, duh. If Modern Family doesn’t win this category, it will be the biggest surprise of the entire night.


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