Four Letter Nerd

Ranking the Emmy Dramas (Well, Most of Them)

Honoring the best of television for the 2015-2016 season, the Primetime Emmy Awards air next Sunday Night. And while I normally don’t watch the show (and I don’t intend to this year either), I was struck by the fact that I am a loyal viewer of five of the seven shows nominated for Best Drama this year.

Now, I’m not exactly sure what this says about me. Maybe I have great tastes when it comes to choosing the television shows I watch. Or maybe I just choose the shows that have done the best job marketing themselves to the Academy of Television of Arts & Sciences. It also appears I have too much time on my hands if I can keep up with this many dramas.

But whatever the case may be, having so many of my shows nominated puts me in a great position to piss people off with my subjective rankings of them.

Before I do that, I want to make it clear that these are not predictions of who will win (that has as much do with marketing by the networks as it does quality of the shows). I will also not be including the two shows in my rankings I don’t watch (“Mr Robot” and “The Americans.”) It wouldn’t be fair of me to judge shows I’ve yet to see. If you are a regular viewer of these shows, let me know in the comments where you think they belong in the rankings.

I’ll start the countdown with a beloved British import that just completed its sixth and final season.

5. Downton Abbey

Emmy Downton Abbey 2

I’m still not sure how “Downton Abbey” ever became so popular in today’s climate of American television. But the popular British historical drama received a well-deserved nomination (it’s 4th for Best Drama) for its final season. And though I have no inside sources on the subject, it wouldn’t surprise me if “Downton” takes the big prize this year to pay homage.

4. Homeland

Emmy Homeland

I go back and forth with my opinion on “Homeland.” Did I prefer seasons 1-3, which were all connected by similar plot lines? Or do I like each season since that plays out like its own individual miniseries with just a few connections to whats happened previously?

But as long as “Homeland” has Carrie Matheson (played brilliantly by Claire Danes) using her Jack Bauer like instincts to thwart terrorist attacks all over the globe, then Homeland will always be in the Emmy conversation.

3. House of Cards

Emmy House of Cards


After a subpar season 3, House of Cards came back into form with an eerily relevant narrative we Americans are experiencing right now with our own dysfunctional Presidential election.

Season 3 meandered on primarily because the Underwoods were in a horribly weakened state. And the drama suffered accordingly. But Season 4 not only put the claws back on Frank and Claire, it also gave them their strongest opposition to date (in the form of the rival candidate for President and members of the media closing in on the Underwood’s past).

2. Game of Thrones

Emmy GOT

Placing my favorite show at number 2 has more to do with the show in the top spot than it does with “Game of Thrones” sixth season, which might have been GoT’s best.

The show turned up the heat (literally if you’re talking about the woman sitting in the chair just above this write up) by setting up and landing some of its biggest game changing moments to date and bringing the show’s overall end game into view.

And with the audience growing to 25 million people (on all platforms) tuning in every week this season, the general public seems to agree with GoT’s nomination.

1. Better Call Saul

Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut and Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill - Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Gallery- Photo Credit: Ben Leuner/AMC

Putting Vince Gilligan’s understated drama ahead of the show that brought me to 4LN in the first place should tell you how good Season 2 was.

In truth, I put GoT’s and BCS’s most reason seasons on equal footing. But I don’t believe in creating lists just so I can declare ties. So I have to nitpick here and put BCS just ahead of GoT due to a few continuity errors with the latter.

Now as to why “Better Call Saul’s” second season takes the top spot? Because in a world filled with dramas pushing mulitple story lines and stellar effects, Gilligan and his crew take the simplest moments (like the delivery of ice cream or the stopping of a tape recording) and produce insane amounts of tension and drama out of them.

It also didn’t hurt to have Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Michael McKeon, and Rhea Seehorn giving performances that at least equaled (and mostly surpassed) their performances from Season One.

What was your favorite of the Emmy dramas from this year’s choices? And how many ways did I get this list wrong?

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Jeff Merrick

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