Just because "Mad Men" won best drama series for the last two years doesn't mean Emmy voters will be tired of it this year and chose one of its three closest rivals: "Dexter," "Lost" or "The Good Wife." Repeats are as common at the Emmys as they are on TV. "The West Wing" won this race four years in a row (2000-2003) and, over on the comedy side, "Frasier" holds the record for a series (drama or comedy) prevailing the most times: five (1994-1998).
"Mad Men" has some strong advantages. For starters, it has the same big plus that "The West Wing" and "Frasier" had going for them: snob appeal. It's a high-brow show that's handsomely styled. Second, timing. The fourth season just debuted the same week that ballots go to TV academy members to pick winners.
Oh, yeah, and that new season is being cheered by TV critics. USA Today says "Mad Men" is still cool. Entertainment Weekly suggests that the AMC series may be off to a great season. The L.A. Times asserts: "'Mad Men' continues to be one of the most beautiful and smartly written shows in the room." The New York Times says the program forces viewers to look back aghast and enthralled at the lost America of the 1960s.
But "The Good Wife" is a hefty rival. If you believe in the apples-and-oranges award theory, you must take its kudos hopes seriously. "The Good Wife" is the only orange (traditional TV broadcast series) in this Emmy apple basket. Being broadcast-channel shows help "The Good Wife" and "Lost" because most of the 14,000 members of the TV academy work in that industry and no doubt they'd like to root for their own. "Lost" could benefit from sentiment. It already proved itself to be a winner of best drama series (2005), and now voters may want to give the daredevil, breakthrough series a farewell hug, like they gave to "The Sopranos" (2007).
If Emmy voting was conducted early this year, "Dexter" -- the coolest show of 2009-2010 -- probably would've won. It had a most daring, brilliant, bone-chilling season, but its last episodes aired months ago. Out of sight, out of mind?
Sorry, fans of "Breaking Bad" and "True Blood." I don't think either show has a shot. "Breaking Bad," though brilliant too, is a painful show to watch and not enough viewers (and TV academy members) are tuning in. In terms of "True Blood," it's miraculous the series got nominated, defying the curse against TV shows starring the undead that haunted the never-nommed "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
Photos: "Mad Men" (AMC), "Dexter" (Showtime), "The Good Wife" (CBS), "Lost" (ABC)