By Rebecca Rose

Here are the nominees for Outstanding Drama Series with an analysis of each show:

Breaking Bad: I only started watching Breaking Bad very recently, and I can tell you that the meth is probably way less addictive than watching this show.  Not since “The Sopranos” have I found it so hard to stop at just one episode. This show has some magical, radical, wild, weird formula of brilliance: The acting, the writing, the pitch-perfect locales and setting.  It’s to New Mexico and meth what “Sex and the City” was to New York and shoes. Hot on the heels of a big win for lead actor Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad” is also riding a mounting buzz wave that hasn’t been seen since another little underling show on AMC swooped in and awed Emmy audiences with their Hail Mary out-of-nowhere big win.  “Mad Men” set the ground work; “Breaking Bad” is going to follow in its path. Moreover, Emmy voters could be looking to upstage Golden Globes and the Hollywood Foreign Press (who, it should be noted, have yet to even nominate the show) by setting the trend this time, instead of trying to play catch-up with the critical bandwagon.  Emmy voters are loving the hype and laudation that comes with a big surprise win to an underling, and catching viewers off guard by recognizing a show like “Breaking Bad” is just the kind of thing they need to stave off talk that they’ve become out of touch or stodgy. Look for a big win, and another awesomely surprised cast/crew (ala “Mad Men”, 2008).

Mad Men: I think Mad Men slipped last season, and when shows like “Dexter” and “Breaking Bad” are nipping at your heels, you can’t afford to miss a beat.  Season Three suffered from the kind of post-sophomore slump that can afflict shows that are huge mega successes right out of the gate.  Voters haven’t 3-peated a show in this category since “The West Wing”, and are probably still sore from the lashing they received from fans and critics who saw it as overkill, and further evidence voters were losing touch with audiences. Plus, on a insider note, there are rumblings of a small industry backlash directed at show creator Matt Weiner for his recent, highly publicized firing of Emmy-winning show writer Kater Gordon (widely touted by some as the genius behind some of the show’s best moments). The negative publicity could be enough to dull the tarnish on the show’s star power, opening the door for another AMC gem, “Breaking Bad”, to take the crown this year. That being said, a slightly off-step, sort-of scandal plagued “Mad Men” is still better than 99.99% of most shows that have ever graced this category.  (I’m looking at you, “The Good Wife”).

Dexter: This is the absolute best season of Dexter thus far.  Dexter emerged victorious out of a pack of shows that started with the same basic formula: The Quirky Detective with a Bizarre/Shocking Alment/Gift. Amongst all OCD riddled, mentalist, psychic, knower-of-lies detectivies, there emerged Dexter.   Dexter takes all the best parts of Gil Grissum, Columbo, Michael Bluth and Tony Soprano, puts them in a blender and comes out with a genre-busting show with a legion of die-hard fans.  (If Tony Shaloub had started murdering people who don’t hang their pictures straight, he might have had some competition.) This season proved that Dexter wasn’t just another show about a guy with a gimmicky back story.  The Trinity storyline was nightmarish and devoid of the usual “Dexter Gives Evil Doer His Comeuppance” formula.   Last season ended with kind of slam-bang season finale shocker that captivates newer fans and doesn’t alienate loyal ones (“Lost” writers, maybe you should have taken note).  For a show that features a ravenous serial killer on weekly basis to pull out a shocker of that caliber truly deserves a hat tip.  But despite that, Emmy voters don’t know what to do with “Dexter” yet.  Shows with this kind of truly dark edginess tend to get award primarily in the acting categories (Michael C. Hall is going a strong contender for years to come). But then again, would anyone have thought a show about a philandering, murderous head of a New Jersey crime family be the kind of thing Emmy voters reward repeatedly?

True Blood: I have a sinking feeling that “True Blood” will split the vote with Dexter, because some voters probably lump the two together as the same kind of show (Pay-cable, thriller, gory, etc.)  Too bad, because this show is more than just lusty vampires clamoring for the affections of a virginal heroine, with fans only interested so they can proclaim their allegiance to the bearer of their chosen abs.  The writing is spot-on, alive with the gift of Alan Ball’s richly soaked dialogue, peppered with legitimately terrifying suspense and mystery.  What Emmy voters don’t see in this show is a reason to reward it right now.  It’s just too successful. Why gift an Emmy to a hit show that’s a bona fide pop culture phenomenon, whose stars routinely grace the cover of magazines? Why jump on the bandwagon when they can create the bandwagon this time? Plus, the industry is suffering from a bit of Vampire Fatigue right now, and rumblings of a bloodsucker backlash are evident all over Hollywood. (Can anything else explain the success of the truly bad “Vampires Suck” parody?) It won’t win, but voters will continue to nominate it as a way of recognizing the great creative work. Oh and TEAM ERIC, all the way.

Lost:  There is a brutal split between fans of the show that makes the dispute over the Gaza Strip seem like a Bingo game during Senior’s Night at pgbingo.com.  For weeks on end, “Lost Finale” topped search engine trends, comment boards filled with hundreds and hundreds of endless back-and-forth arguments over “what it was all about”, with no seeming end to the debate in sight. But could this kind of backlash actually be good for the show’s award chances?  The anti-Lost hate could fuel a sort of industry sympathy, especially from other writers/producers who want to make a statement about defending their colleagues’ right to portray their own artistic vision.   Personally, I have so much vitriolic bitterness directed at the confusing, muddled and badly mangled last season of “Lost”, there are quite literally not nearly enough blogs on the Internet for me to vent about it on.  “Lost” left a legion of loyal fans with a laughably hideous amount of unanswered questions (The whole Dharma Initiative just HUH? Richard is whaaaat? And why was Desmond the “fail safe”?? All he did was pull a rock out of puddle. Was it so Kate would be assured to have a failsafe way of putting on a skanky dress?). Plus, writers left gaping holes in the overall plot that a child could have filled with some simple exposition. The last season ultimately felt contrived and lazy.  They couldn’t even tell us what the stupid light was all about?  They couldn’t come up with anything?  Not one lousy idea? Nothing?   Here, let me help you:

The light is actually a dinosaur fart, captured eons ago. It holds mystical powers, which is why it must be guarded, at all costs.”

See! There you go. It’s not that hard.   Unfortunately, the writers opted to not utilize my Dinosaur Fart theory, and therefore will be shut out of this award come Emmy night.

This Good Wife:  This a nominee for best drama? Seriously?  No, seriously?  This show is about as dramatically compelling as the last season of “Murder She Wrote”, (when they were pretty much phoning it in).  I’ve seen more artfully written labels on soup cans.   Is there another comedic way for me to tell you this show is awful?  I could list 10 shows better deserving of an Emmy nomination. When great shows like House get left off the ballot, you have to wonder why. There’s no room for a ground-breaking show like “Sons of Anarchy”, but this thing gets a nomination? I like a good, soap-y courtroom drama as much as the next person, but either Emmy voters are trying to find a way to convince their moms they don’t just watch gory vampire sex and shows about meth, or Chris Noth has some weird Svengali-like hypnotic power over everyone in Hollywood.

In closing, I predict a nice sort-of upset for “Breaking Bad”. Cranston and clan have enough word of mouth behind them to slightly edge out the always nervy and brilliant “Mad Men”.  Either that or “The Good Wife” takes it, proving I know absolutely nothing about Hollywood and should stick to writing about dinosaurs.

Road to the Emmys Series

July 5: Nomination Preview Podcast – Lilit Marcus, Andrew Payne, Rebecca Rose, and Phil Wallace

July 8: Nomination Analysis Podcast – Rebecca Rose, Dantzler Smith, Phil Wallace, and Bryce Van Kooten

July 12: Outstanding Host: Reality Show or Reality Competition – Adam Spunberg

July 14: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie – Adam Spunberg

July 15: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie – Phil Wallace

July 19: Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or Movie – Phil Wallace

July 21: Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or Movie – Gene Williams

July 26: Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special – Savanna New

July 28: Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series – Dantzler Smith

August 2: Outstanding Reality Program – Gene Williams

August 4: Outstanding Reality Competition Program – Savanna New

August 7: Outstanding Made for TV Movie – Savanna New

August 8: Outstanding Miniseries – Adam Spunberg

August 9: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Rebecca Rose

August 10: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Kit Bowen

August 11: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – Rebecca Rose

August 12: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – Andrew Payne

August 15: Awards Race Podcast – Lilit Marcus, Andrew Payne, Adam Spunberg, Phil Wallace

August 16: Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series – Phil Wallace

August 17: Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series – Steve Neumann

August 18: Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series – Andrew Payne

August 19: Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series – Bryce Van Kooten

August 23: Outstanding Comedy Series – Kit Bowen

August 25: Outstanding Drama Series – Rebecca Rose

August 29: 62nd Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards