N.B. These ballots are based on the official submissions and follow the Emmy rules for nominations (i.e. 10 for Programs, 6 for Actors and 5 for Casting). All ballots are in ranked order, with winners in bold.
OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIESAnd now we come to the big one (Drama Series), a category that seems to be in somewhat of a transition phase with the end of AMC's reign as the king of prestige drama. Indeed, the absence of the absence of "Breaking Bad" was keenly felt, leaving a void at the top of the pecking order. Still, there were many highlights to remember this TV season. "Game of Thrones" wowed us with the grand spectacle of "Hardhome", "The Americans" left us our nerves frayed after the suspense of "Stingers", and "Mad Men" ended in fine style with "Person to Person", one of the great series finales. The show that impressed me the most however, was a certain political drama that kick-started the binge-watch revolution...
House of Cards
The Good Wife
Orange is the New Black
Better Call Saul
Game of Thrones
Three simple words. That's all it took for everything to come to a head in the abrupt closing moments of the quieter, more pensive third season of "House of Cards". That shocking twist was the culmination of a calculated season 3 narrative that saw the series iron out the kinks that hampered it in previous years.
Primarily, the show thankfully addressed the issue of Frank Underwood's invincibility, i.e. his unstoppable rise to power. Indeed, by the time we see both Frank and Claire crying in episode 2 (after being rejected by their own party), "House of Cards" had signaled that it was taking a different approach this year. In doing so, the series was able to apply greater focus on its characters, giving room for Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright to once again deliver superlative performances. The plot gave Frank more substantial motives too, requiring him to dedicate himself to policy (both domestic and abroad) rather than backroom politics, in an effort to prove himself a worthy leader. In a series that previously portrayed him as power-hungry for the sake of power alone, this was a welcome change.
Frank's fight wasn't only confined to the political arena, as he also came up against unexpected opposition at home. As Claire began to assert her own influence, the season provided a fascinating portrait of a marriage, pulling back the veil on arguably the defining power couple on TV right now. By the time the show reached its climax, this subplot became the season's strongest asset, the loose cannon that threatens to bring the metaphorical house of cards crashing down.
Critics and fans alike were more lukewarm on this season but for me, this is the version of "House of Cards" I've wanted from the start. It may have lost its sensational pulp appeal, but I think it's changed for the better. It's now a smarter series, and with that bombshell of an season ending, it has built up considerable momentum and anticipation for its return next year.
2013: Breaking Bad
2014: The Good Wife