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Emmys 2012: 6 Top TV Critics Make Their Picks

The Good Wife EP The Dream Team - H 2012
David Giesbrecht/CBS
"The Good Wife"

Six pundits (including THR's Tim Goodman) join the same group chat to discuss, dish on and just plain dis the shows that might or might not score Emmy gold.

This story first appeared in the June 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Six top pundits (including THR's Tim Goodman) join the same group chat to discuss, dish on and just plain dis the shows that might or might not score Emmy gold.

Also on the chat: NPR's Linda Holmes, Time's James Poniewozik, The Boston Globe's Sarah Rodman, HitFix.com's Alan Sepinwall and The A.V. Club's Todd VanDerWerff.

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Tim Goodman: What if we had to replace all of last year's drama nominees (Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife, Friday Night Lights and Dexter)? Easy, yes?

James Poniewozik: Oh, Jesus, Dexter -- well, that makes it easier to replace.

Linda Holmes: So you'd make it Breaking Bad … Homeland … Dance Moms

Todd VanDerWerff: And then I think Downton Abbey could bump Boardwalk Empire.

Poniewozik: No way. Boardwalk got better, Downton got worse!

Goodman: Fine enough, but what about Justified, The Walking Dead, The Borgias …

Poniewozik: LOL Borgias.

Alan Sepinwall: But Downton seems like academy bait more than Boardwalk.

VanDerWerff: Hollywood loves British people!

Goodman: Would anyone be stunned if Dexter got yet another nomination? And by stunned, I mean taking into consideration that it's the Emmys.

Holmes: I am essentially never stunned by repeat nominations. I think The Good Wife gets in as broadcast's noble representative.

Poniewozik: Noncable nominations: I am starting to fear a TCA-style shocker for Smash.

Holmes: WHAT? No.

VanDerWerff: Good Wife is broadcast's only shot. The only other even vaguely reputable dramas on broadcast are Parenthood and Fringe, and the only other vaguely Emmy-ish drama on broadcast is Smash.

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Holmes: Seriously, stop saying "Smash."

Goodman: I just threw up.

Sarah Rodman: Isn't Anjelica Huston the low-hanging fruit of the "movie star on TV" variety?

Poniewozik: Smash is CLAH-ssy. Old people like it. Anjelica Huston! Would not rule it out.

Goodman: OK, if Smash gets in, Lord, that might be one of the biggest shockers in eight-plus years.

Holmes: Well, then I certainly hope The Playboy Club isn't left out.

Goodman: Since we're talking long shots, any other big-time upset noms? Walking Dead?

Poniewozik: Oooh, good one. Drama, maybe, don't see any acting noms for it.

Rodman: Boss?

Goodman: I liked Boss a lot, but James may laugh at me.

Poniewozik: I will say that I support Kelsey Grammer for Boss, even though I despised the show. He did make me forget Frasier Crane in like 35 seconds, and I have to give him that.

Goodman: Wait, but seriously, is anyone prepared for Game of Thrones being left out? It's a huge worry for me.

Poniewozik: GoT vs. Downton: Do historical British people beat magic ones?

Rodman: When they're having as much sex as they are on GoT, I'm guessing yes.

Goodman: And hasn't Justified made enough noise to get the Emmy voters' attention?

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Poniewozik: This chat is making me mad at the Emmys already.

Holmes: I think Justified is vulnerable to, "We'll nominate an actor or two but not the show."

Rodman: I want to put all my chips on John Slattery for dropping trou and dropping acid, but I think Peter Dinklage will be edging him out.

Poniewozik: I love Slattery, but I kind of feel he gets an unfair wind assist from all those great Roger Sterling witticisms.

Goodman: "Unfair wind assist" is my favorite thing so far. … Southland is the darkest of all horses, probably.

VanDerWerff: I sort of assume the TV Academy doesn't know Southland exists. Oh, speaking of ultra-unlikely contenders that nevertheless have a shot: Damages is eligible.

Goodman: Damages? Whuck? OK, how about this: Does Mad Men go 5-for-5?

VanDerWerff: No. I think Homeland will beat Mad Men.

Holmes: My question is whether Mad Men nails down the Jessica Pare nomination it wants more than anything. Since it's now The Megan Draper Show, for some reason.

Goodman: Oooh, Linda, I sense discontent.

Sepinwall: Mad Men. Not seeing anyone else having a shot.

Goodman: Really, Alan? You think 5-for-5?

Sepinwall: It's the perfect Emmy storm: nostalgic enough for the older voters, hip enough for the younger ones. And good.

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Poniewozik: Emmy voters, especially with drama, tend to reflect a certain kind of "quality urbane people shows" bias. I think Breaking Bad, e.g., has a hard time ever winning because it's too nonglam, too noncoastal.

Sepinwall: It's also too violent and downscale.

Holmes: Is it more violent than The Sopranos?

Sepinwall: A) Sopranos existed in another era. B) Sopranos lost to West Wing several times before it finally won the series trophy.

Poniewozik: Yep, and that was also a coastal-classy-person's show that The New York Times liked to do Style features on.

Holmes: Here's a question: How many of this year's drama nominees will be shows that have not, at some point, included a bloody dismemberment/disfigurement?

Goodman: So, just to be clear, nobody thinks Breaking Bad has a chance?

Sepinwall: Did we discuss Luck at all?

VanDerWerff: Poor Luck.

Rodman: But you know Dustin Hoffman is getting a nomination.

Sepinwall: HBO thought that was going to be a license to print Emmys. Now I'm not sure if it'll get anything but Hoffman and maybe Nick Nolte noms.

Poniewozik: Best shot Luck has is inclusion of those horses in the death reel.

Holmes: Horse-death humor has no place here, sir!

Goodman: You know what this conversation is doing to me? Making me think that Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife and Breaking Bad have zero chance to win best drama.

Poniewozik: I don't think GoT was the best drama last year, but I would kind of love to see a big, crazy f--ing genre epic get the award.

Goodman: Let's move on to comedy series.

Poniewozik: Wishful thinking, but I think the coastal-upscale-buzzy bias helps Girls' chances.

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Goodman: Can we agree that if Glee gets nominated for comedy, then we all quit?

Poniewozik: Alan, ModFam is grandfathered in until the end of time, yes?

Sepinwall: It is.

Poniewozik: I dunno, Alan. Anger Management will be eligible next year.

Holmes: I predict the nomination some of you think is going to Girls is actually going to New Girl.

Poniewozik: Someone should do an Emmy chart of "Needs to be good"/"Doesn't need to be good" for nominations -- i.e., Louie must be the best comedy on TV even to have a shot. ModFam could kill a hobo for sport and still get nominated.

Goodman: You had me at "hobo." Let's talk for a second about Modern Family. I sense some backlash here. Too much rubber-stamping?

Sepinwall: I thought this was kind of a terrible season for ModFam, but it'll still win in a walk. It's traditional multicam jokes wrapped in a hipper single-camera mockumentary package.

Goodman: On the Critic Outrage Scale, where does the needle go when/if Louie and Girls don't get best comedy noms? Not that anybody cares about us. And our feelings.

Poniewozik: I love Girls, but see it getting passed over. No Louie nom is a war crime. But not a surprise.

VanDerWerff: Shameless is definitely a victim of the Emmys' squeamishness about shows about lower-class people. Remember: They never nominated Roseanne for comedy series.

Poniewozik: I will give a Nobel Prize to the person who solves the conundrum of how awards can better recognize shows that are neither strictly drama nor comedy. And thank you all for making me pre-emptively angry about multiple-Emmy nominee Smash. Tonight I will yell at my kids for something that is not their fault.

Goodman: I swear to the gods, if Smash gets nominated -- and I'm superscared now that it might -- I'll burn down the world.

Edited from a live chat at THR.com