Best Drama Series
Breaking Bad, AMC
- FOR IT: According to most critics, this AMC drama about a high school teacher who makes and sells meth to make ends meet is one of the more deserving series in this category. Star Bryan Cranston has won the Best Actor award the past two years (and is poised to take it for a third time) and its supporting players (including Supporting Actor frontrunner Aaron Paul and acclaimed actress Anna Gunn) have received raves.
- AGAINST IT: Compared to its more promotable competition (like Mad Men and the final season of LOST), the show is not as noticeable. Its nomination (plus its two nominated actors winning in their categories) may just have to serve as the show's reward.
- FOR IT: The show about a forensic specialist who is also a serial killer (with a heart of gold!) has been nominated twice before and, to many, its fourth season was its best with the addition of John Lithgow (who won the Guest Actor in Drama Series Emmy) as a rival serial killer.
- AGAINST IT: Like most other cable shows, the series only has 12 episodes a season and the fourth season ended back in December 2009. Timing could work against this show that many people feel deserves recognition. Also, the show's graphic and bloody nature (it is referred to as one of the bloodiest shows on television) may be a turnoff to some of the more staid members of the voting Academy.
The Good Wife, CBS
- FOR IT: It is one the freshman shows of the season that was a hit both with critics and with the ratings. Led by the sheer force of the poignant performance by Julianna Margulies, who is a frontrunner to win the Best Actress in a Drama prize, the cast has been lauded left and right (with Supporting Actress nods for Christine Baranski and breakout player Archie Panjabi in the process).
- AGAINST IT: The nomination, while welcomed, was pretty much a surprise to most Hollywood insiders. It is primarily seen as a way of boosting Margulies' already strong chances in her category against tough competition from Damages' Glenn Close and Mad Men's January Jones.
- FOR IT: The show about survivors of a plane crash on a strange and mystical island has been a fan favorite throughout its six year run. Back in 2005, it won this award for its groundbreaking first season. Thanks to a chilling and controversial finale episode in May, ABC hopes to win that same award again this time around.
- AGAINST IT: It has not won since 2005 and has very tough competition from the cable shows it faces. Also, it has primarily been a fan favorite over its six years and while the finale episode was hailed, it was considered jarring and confusing to many. Voters may choose its competition in response to the fervor the final episode caused.
Mad Men, AMC
- FOR IT: The reigning champ in the category for the past two years had a stellar third season about the lives (and loves) of the workers at the Sterling Cooper Ad Agency in the early 1960's. Several of its ensemble cast members (including leads John Hamm and January Jones) each received nominations in their categories and its writing (by creator Matthew Weiner) is a frontrunner to win yet again. It is the Awards "Go-To" when it comes to the top prize.
- AGAINST IT: To avoid looking stale and stodgy (something the Academy has been accused of for years, especially last year), the voters may choose to go with a different winner this time no matter how deserving the third season was.
True Blood, HBO
- FOR IT: When it was not among the 8 nominees in this category last year, the multitudes of fans this dark drama series about vampires and other creatures in the Louisiana bayou cried "FOUL!" The show has amassed a huge following (like the Twilight series, just not as big).
- AGAINST IT: Much like LOST has been over the years (and Glee is in the Comedy category below), the love for this series has generally come from audiences and fans as opposed to within the Hollywood community itself. Also, like Dexter, the graphic and violent nature of the show (It IS called True Blood) might put off some of the older block of voters. The nomination could just be a way of making it up to audiences for not nominating it previously and nothing more.
Mad Men is probably the most deserving and certainly could pull off a third win, but it is also just as likely that the votes will go to LOST's final season just out of pure respect for the mindfreak that J. J. Abrams and company put people through in May. I'm gonna give the edge to Mad Men (based purely on what the critics have said), but I do not count LOST out.
It is also quite possible that Mad Men will be watching its fellow network series Breaking Bad in the winners' circle come Sunday night. The show has gained great respect from many within the Hollywood community and they may want to give it more than just acting awards.
Best Comedy Series
Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO
- FOR IT: Larry David's completely ad-libbed sitcom has been enjoyed by critics since it debuted in 2000. This past year, the show pulled off television history by reuniting the cast of Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards) on an episode.
- AGAINST IT: Seinfeld nostalgia aside, the series has been sporadically on HBO's schedule with its seventh season being in 2009 (when normally it would have been in 2007). The show often gets lost in the shuffle when it comes to awards like this. The nomination may just be enough.
- FOR IT: Ryan Murphy's series about a high school glee club was the phenomenal success of the season filled with songs and dances that melted audiences' hearts. Lead actors Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele and supporting players Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch (who is destined to win Supporting Actress in a Comedy for her role as the vicious cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester) all have scored praise and nominations much to the happiness of the fans (who have dubbed themselves Gleeks!). The musical-dramedy won the Golden Globe award this past year over sitcoms like The Office, 30 Rock and Modern Family.
- AGAINST IT: Two things really. Number 1 - The older block of voters have expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that a dramedy (although musical) is in the same category with sitcoms like The Office, 30 Rock and Modern Family. This is not a new issue, but it is beginning to rear its head and Glee may suffer for it. And Number 2 - The love it has received is mostly fanbased (most of which probably are not members of the voting Academy).
Modern Family, ABC
- FOR IT: The critics absolutely love this mockumentary-style sitcom about a family made up of three different households. Most of its acclaimed ensemble cast scored nominations in the Supporting categories (each cast member entered in supporting because of their ensemble status). It has also brought ABC back to the realm of beloved sitcoms (where until recently their Comedy gold relied on dramedies like Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty).
- AGAINST IT: While it has a loyal audience and critics love it, it does not have the fanbase that FOX's Glee has. While some critics are members of the voting branch, they may not be enough to conquer those voters who might be voting for the FOX musical hit.
Nurse Jackie, Showtime
- FOR IT: One of the three new shows of the year recognized in this category, the critically-acclaimed quirky hospital dramedy was a surprise amongst the nominees (scoring a nod over more popular fare like NBC's Community or CBS' The Big Bang Theory).
- AGAINST IT: The show has mostly been noted for the stellar performance of its lead actress, Edie Falco. The nomination in this category might merely be a way to bolster Falco's standing in her category of Lead Actress in a Comedy where she faces tough competition from Glee star Lea Michele as well as previous winners Toni Collette and Tina Fey.
The Office, NBC
- FOR IT: Having won this award back in 2006, the American version of the Ricky Gervais Britcom has been a fan favorite (especially in syndication). This (along with its fellow NBC show 30 Rock) has become a staple at awards shows. Also, with Steve Carell's announcement that the upcoming season will be his last, voters may choose to remember this show's contribution.
- AGAINST IT: The comedy has had a lackluster season and critics have stated that since its uber-couple Jim and Pam (played by John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer, respectively) got married (and had a baby this year), the show has ultimately "jumped the shark." The last time it won in 2006, probably was the last time.
30 Rock, NBC
- FOR IT: Tina Fey's quirky backstage TV comedy has won this award for the past 3 years. It was almost natural that it would be nominated for its fourth season which has already won Alec Baldwin a Golden Globe (and both Baldwin and Fey Screen Actors' Guild Awards) this year.
- AGAINST IT: Like its network compatriot The Office, the show has been accused by critics of growing stale and has dwindled in ratings (which it didn't have that much of to begin with). Voters may choose to give newer shows a chance at this prestigious award.
It will be the Critics vs. the Fans as the freshman shows Modern Family and Glee have an Emmy stand-off. It is not clear how deep the fanbase of FOX's musical series runs in the Hollywood community, so I wouldn't count it out (cause you never know if there are some secret Gleeks out there!); but I still give the edge to Modern Family based on critical praise (as well as a growing audience). Either one winning would be okay with me, but if you belong to either camp - be prepared for possible disappointment when the other side wins.