Yes, it's that time of year again. You'd think that after years and hoping and dreaming, I'd have reached the point where I realize that hoping for the best television to be honored by the Emmys is like hoping for peace in the Middle East; unless Howard Gordon produced the show, it ain't gonna happen. But the fact of the matter is, there was some truly spectacular television this season. A lot of series that are Emmy favorites were very subpar. And considering the bizarreness of some of the categories that executives are putting series in, there may actually be a chance for some genuine surprise this season. I know I say that almost every year, but still:
So, hoping that they'll take me seriously this time, here are my picks for this season's Emmys.
The Americans (FX)
Despite the remarkably high quality of television from this network, this 80s series was by far FX's most outstanding product. Simultaneously archaic and (given recent events) all too relevant, this series features some of the most memorable performances and storylines of any series. And given the most shocking revelation of the season--- the murderer of the fellow travelers in the second season premiere---- this show more than avoided the sophomore slump to become one of the years most pleasing surprises.
Breaking Bad (AMC)
As good as this year was, the most brilliant TV of the year aired before the 2013 fall season even began. This series avoided all the shortfalls that so many great series have hit, and unveiled its final moments in an series finale that solidified this show as one of the greatest series in this history of the medium. It has been on a straight shot for the Best Drama award since September and, despite the high quality of the other contenders, other shows will have to tread lightly if they hope to beat it.
The Good Wife (CBS)
I'm really not sure how the Emmys can justify ignoring this series in favor of lesser series (and at this point, the show's creators feel the same way). And considering how absolutely breathtaking the series was as they completely tore down the foundation for the law firm, for the relationships within, and some of the most mind blowing twists any series--- you heard me, Mad Men--- did this season, and tell me why they are even considering ignoring it again.
House of Cards (Netflix)
In an era of government gridlock and partisanship, this searing series of a determined majority whips rise to power has become one of the few things all viewers can agree on. Francis Underwood's rise to power, and the rising death tool is by far the most gripping show on power on any TV series. If things are following the British series it was based on--- this series has but one more season left in it. For the good of the country, I hope so. For the good of television, I hope not.
Masters of Sex (Showtime)
In an era where cable networks--- this one included--- have so diluted the act of sex by polluting the airwaves, you would think there was nothing cable could do to make it vital again. You would be wrong. Watching Masters and Johnson begin the study that would lead humanity out of the sexual dark ages featured some fascinating moments, and surrounding them with some of the most memorable characters I've seen on any TV series in awhile. 'Fallout' is my pick for one of the best episodes of the year, and it clearly demonstrates why this is the strongest series on the network.
True Detective (HBO)
Let's get it out of the way: This is an anthology series. It should be competing in what is admittedly a very strong category of mini-series. That said, this was by far the most arresting television HBO has put out in awhile, anchored by two of the most electrifying performances of two of our greatest actors working today, and some of the most memorable cinematography and editing of any series since the early episodes of The Wire. It's that good.