Drama time! This was a great season for old and new series. In any of these categories almost anyone or any show could take the cake, and they’re all worthy of recognition. So it really comes down to personal preference. Allow me to share mine.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Breaking Bad (AMC)
Downton Abbey (PBS)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
Mad Men (AMC)
For me this is a two-show contest. So let’s take a moment to acknowledge the best of the rest.
Breaking Bad strikes me as the anti-Mad Men in the sense that its performers get ample Emmy love, but I think the show itself will always come up short (confusing things these Emmys!). Downton Abbey made PBS cool, and the Emmy voters could easily respond to that. And both Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones are coming off strong sophomore seasons (and a vastly improved, if crowded, season in the case of Boardwalk). But it’s a certain freshman show that stands a real chance of taking it all.
Homeland is a Manchurian Candidate for our times that ups the ante with a complex, mentally unbalanced CIA officer (played by Claire Danes) seeing how the pieces of the puzzle fit together but having a hell of time convincing everyone in her orbit (even her mentor, Saul, who is played to perfection by Mandy Patinkin; the Broadway vet really deserved a nod for his strong and subtle work). Danes’ Carrie has an equally complex adversary (and momentary lover) in Damian Lewis’ Brody. As the season unfolds, and we learn more about Brody’s time as a POW, we understand his motives. Yet the character becomes more of an enigma. It’s a weekly thrill ride laced with messy familial drama, and while I have some slight worries about whether or not they can keep the momentum going in Season Two, there’s no question that Season One could easily walk off with the award.
And then there’s Mad Men. If you’ve visited this blog even once, you know we love us the goings on at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Season Five saw Megan take center stage (and I became a fan of the new Mrs. Draper), and Roger took a series of mind-altering trips. Ken picked up his pen, and Pete picked up an unstable Rory Gilmore. And while Peggy left the agency, Lane left forever. Maybe Don didn’t have a “Suitcase” moment, but our final glimpse of him on the precipice of falling back into his old habits after everything that went down was both chilling and exciting. It’s the best show on television, and while I like to see new winners, I gotta go with Mad Men. But don’t count Homeland out.