The Remote: Cable is king with this year’s Emmy-nominated dramas

Ryan Pait

Cable has flair, network is for squares.

At least, that’s the impression you get when you look at this year’s Emmy nominees.

Especially in the Outstanding Drama Series category.

Out of the six nominees, five are premium choices.

“Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones,” “Homeland,” “House of Cards” and “Mad Men” are all shows that you have to pay for.

The sixth nominee is “Downton Abbey,” which airs for free on PBS.

This year’s roster is also nearly a carbon copy of last year’s. With the exception of “House of Cards,” all of these shows have been nominated before.

It says a lot about where the TV industry is today. The four big networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — are nowhere to be seen in the Outstanding Drama Series category.

Does this mean that all the good TV dramas are on cable now?

Kind of.

The entire spectrum of TV drama can’t be accurately given its due in a six-spot category.

There are good dramas on the big four networks.

But this year’s nominees are a good sampler of the cream of television’s bountiful crop — and most of that crop comes from cable.

There’s “Breaking Bad,” which is the show of the moment that you’ve probably heard all of your friends, enemies and coworkers talking about.

It’s looking like the frontrunner right now. While the show was nominated for the first half of its final season this year, the second half of the season is being broadcast right now.

This gave “Breaking Bad” the distinct advantage of being foremost on voters’ minds while voting occurred.

It’s revered already, but this might be the year that “Bad” takes the top prize.

The stiffest competition for “Breaking Bad” comes from “Game of Thrones” and “Homeland,” two premium cables shows that have nearly incessant buzz.

“Game of Thrones” has become such a part of the cultural zeitgeist over the past few years that it’s hard to avoid. 

You’ve probably seen part of it on HBO while channel surfing in the dorm.

“Homeland” made big headlines last year when it broke “Mad Men”’s four-year winning streak for Outstanding Drama Series.

While the show’s second season went a little haywire compared to its first, “Homeland” still has a shot this year.

There’s also “Mad Men,” TV’s once-favorite million dollar baby that slipped and broke its neck last year at the Emmys: it went zero for 17.

“Mad Men” probably won’t slip up as bad this year, but lukewarm buzz on its sixth season may keep it from taking home the top prize.

And then there are the dark horses: “Downton Abbey” and “House of Cards.”

“Downton” is well-loved among the masses — its audience has steadily grown rather than decreased since the show began.

But the show is viewed by critics as a well-acted soap opera, which makes its chances of winning slim.

“House of Cards” is the strangest case. It’s a Netflix original series that has some top-tier talent involved and a ton of critical support. 

But it may not be fresh on voters’ minds.

“House of Cards” is the dark horse of the dark horses; and it may just take the top prize.

It’ll be interesting to see who wins, but it almost doesn’t matter in the end.

Just look at this year’s nominees. We’re living in a new golden age of television, and we should be trying to watch all of it.

Even if we have to pay for the good stuff.