Oh the drama! Blame HBO’s “True Detective” for turning this year’s race — made more intense by dozens of hot acting contenders — into the most competitive.
Contenders: Nashville, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Resurrection, Once Upon a Time, Agents of SHIELD
Best bets: Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. The network most recently appeared in the category in 2010, when 2005 winner Lost was nominated a final time. Shonda Rhimes’ two hit series lead the pack this year: Grey’s scored noms in 2006 and 2007. Scandal’s Emmy-nominated lead Kerry Washington is a returning favorite, and supporting actress Bellamy Young recently scored a Critics’ Choice Award nom, boosting the political drama’s profile.
Contenders: The Good Wife, Person of Interest, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Hawaii Five-0, CSI, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, Blue Bloods, Elementary, Under the Dome, Unforgettable
Best bets: The Good Wife. Despite a glut of hit shows — NCIS is broadcast’s most-watched series — Wife is the network’s most prestigious, having earned Emmy drama series noms in 2010 and 2011, a trophy for lead actress Julianna Margulies in 2011, a 2014 WGA nom and Critics’ Choice noms for series, Margulies, Christine Baranski and previous Emmy nominee Josh Charles.
Contenders: The Blacklist, Parenthood, Hannibal, Law & Order: SVU, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Grimm
Best bets: The Blacklist. NBC most recently saw a drama series nom (with DirecTV) in 2011 for Friday Night Lights (it won for drama series writing instead). That makes Blacklist, TV’s highest-rated new or returning drama starring Emmy winner and Golden Globe nominee James Spader, and Universal Television’s Bates Motel (on A&E), starring Emmy nominee Vera Farmiga, NBCU’s strongest competitors since 2003 winner The West Wing.
Contenders: The Following, Sleepy Hollow, Bones
Best bets: The Following. The network most recently earned a drama series nom in 2009 for the never-lauded four-time nominee House and won the category in 2006 with 24. Fan favorite Hollow hasn’t aired since January, putting the Kevin Bacon starrer Following ahead of the pack (despite Emmy’s long-standing reluctance to fete the horror genre).
Contenders: Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, The Newsroom, True Detective, True Blood
Best bets: True Detective and Game of Thrones. Thrones recently surpassed The Sopranos as HBO’s most-watched series of all time, but the fantasy epic has failed to take home a drama series trophy on three nominations. That makes cultural and critical juggernaut Detective the category’s most likely first-time nominee and possible winner. Both series scored 2014 Critics’ Choice noms, with an actor nom for Detective’s Matthew McConaughey.
Contenders: Masters of Sex, Dexter, Ray Donovan, Homeland
Best bets: Masters of Sex, Ray Donovan and Homeland. Masters earned Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice noms for series and lead Michael Sheen. Donovan is buzzing because of Globe winner and Critics’ Choice nominee Jon Voight, Globe nominee Liev Schreiber and a WGA nom for new series. And Homeland, which won the Emmy series trophy in 2012, remains a critical favorite.
Contenders: Hell on Wheels, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Mad Men, Turn
Best bets: Breaking Bad and Mad Men. AMC has dominated the Emmy drama series category five of the past six years: Mad Men’s four straight wins began in 2008, and Bad nabbed a finale-fueled victory in 2013. The latter also scored a triple play at the 2014 guild awards: Creator Vince Gilligan won trophies at the WGA, DGA and PGA ceremonies. Emmy-winning stars Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul also earned Critics’ Choice noms.
Contenders: The Americans, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, The Bridge
Best bets: The Americans. FX’s strongest contender since Damages (most recently nominated in 2009), the 1980s Russian spy drama saw boosts in its reviews and pop-culture profile during season two, which netted the show 2014 Critics’ Choice noms for drama series, leads Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell and supporting actress Annet Mahendru.
Contenders: House of Cards
Best bets: House of Cards. With Hemlock Grove not eligible this year, the Kevin Spacey drama stands alone. It scored three Emmy trophies in 2013, including one for director (executive producer David Fincher), and gained more steam from a critically acclaimed second season. Cards was nominated for four Globes in 2014, including drama series, and scored a lead-actress win for Robin Wright, who also is nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award.
Contenders: Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge, Call the Midwife
Best bets: Downton Abbey. A 2011 Emmy winner for best miniseries, the period epic jumped to the drama series category in 2012 and has earned consecutive noms. It scored a 2014 Globe nomination for best drama, and Emmy-nominated actors Michelle Dockery, Joanne Froggatt and winner Maggie Smith again are favorites as this year’s awards season approaches.