Mad Men (AMC)
Why It Was Nominated: Because it’s television’s reigning gold standard, that’s why, with 19 total nominations this year (more than any other series and second among all shows behind the HBO mini Mildred Pierce, which tallied 21). Matt Weiner 1960s ad agency hour has won three times in a row here and by winning a fourth would tie Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and The West Wing for the most Outstanding Drama Emmys. In its fourth season, critics and fans seem to be in agreement that Mad Men remains at the top of its game. So if it’s still about quality, just hand the Emmy over.
Why It Has To Win: Mad Men is on a roll, one that shows no signs of derailing with wins this year from the Television Critics Association and the inaugural Critics Choice Award. “They did some of their best work this season,” one producer says, “and the level that Weiner is operating at sort of leaves a lot of us in awe. It’s astoundingly good.” This show appears to be that rarest of exceptions: One that started out hot and has grown only hotter year after year as well as backlash-proof.
Why It Can’t Possibly Win: There are a couple of monkey wrenches that could squelch this year’s anticipated Mad Men coronation. One is the fact that, unlike its first three years in Emmy contention, the show had no fresh episodes this summer during voting time — pushed to next spring by Weiner’s protracted contract negotiations. The other is those very negotiations themselves that found the headstrong Men creator-showrunner all over the media with the sometimes acrimonious back-and-forth. “There will be some who don’t vote for the show out of jealousy directed at Weiner,” a voting writer believes. “But it’s hard to know how much that will matter.” (more…)