Drama Series Contenders

Randy Tepper/Showtime

THR makes a case for 10 competitors in the race for Emmy's most prestigious prize.

Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
The cast nabbed the Screen Actors Guild ensemble acting award and the series won the Golden Globe: two of the best predictors of Emmy drama series gold.

Dexter (Showtime)
The three-time Emmy nominee is its network's only repeat drama contender this year and the only one whose lead actor is also a three-time nominee.

Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC)
Having wrapped after five seasons, the critical darling is positioned for its first -- and last -- series nomination, following noms for its two leads last year.

Game of Thrones (HBO)
HBO's second -- and more lavish -- entrant to the race has all the elements of a TV version of Lord of the Rings, including the potential as this year's fantasy spoiler.

Justified (FX)
The network's best chance at its first series nom, the drama has enjoyed a huge campaign push this season and could be the wild card that fills Breaking Bad's slot.

Mad Men (AMC)
The three-time winner has never missed a beat (this year's production delays aside) and is still the toughest competitor in Emmy drama history.

Parenthood (NBC)
The family saga hit its stride with emotional storylines about autism, divorce and infidelity. Emmy loves drama that feels real -- and this one has no equal on TV.

Shameless (Showtime)
Cable's most daring series by a mile, it's that rare newbie whose acting, writing and authenticity shine with equal measure. Its cast of mostly young actors is stunning.

The Good Wife (CBS)
Network's most unpredictable drama is poised for a second nomination due to buzz for its lead actress and refreshing twists to the well-worn legal-thriller genre.

The Killing (AMC)
The year's strangest and most addictive new series has critics aflutter and AMC's prestige factor heating up as the network preps for its first year with two contenders.