Emmy drama intrigue

Everything or nothing could change in category

The votes are in for the 2013 Primetime Emmys, and all that’s left is the waiting and the wondering until the nominations are revealed July 18. In the first of a series speculating on the outcome of key categories, here’s a look at drama series.

Will nothing change? Last year’s nominees were “Breaking Bad,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men” and eventual champion “Homeland.” Each is an inner-circle contender for a return trip.

Will everything change? “Boardwalk” always seems to risk being taken for granted, the “Homeland” backlash became louder and louder in the second half of its sophomore season, and there was plenty of in-season carping this year about “Downton” and “Mad Men.” Upheaval is a distinct possibility.

Safest bets? “Breaking Bad,” with nominations in three consecutive seasons (putting aside one lengthy production hiatus) heading into its valedictory final run, seems to have put firmly to rest worries about its deep dives into darkness — at least as far as the nominations go. And “Game of Thrones” seemed every bit as much on its game in its third season as it was in nominated seasons one and two.

Who’s due? Never nominated for a series Emmy, “The Walking Dead” still suffers from inconsistency, but at its best is outstanding. Also an Emmy drama series outsider, “Justified” had a fourth season that was practically the equal of its much-revered year two. “Southland” has a last chance to follow the “Friday Night Lights” template for posthumous Emmy recognition, while demand for “Parenthood” (in the wake of its season-long cancer arc) and “Shameless” noms has never been higher. And I’ll be the annual voice in the wilderness for “Treme.”

Who’s due back? It’s entirely possible that the category’s 2012 omission of “The Good Wife,” nominated in 2010 and 2011, was an aberration.

Rookies in the race? You could form an entirely separate category of first-year drama contenders, including “The Americans,” “Bates Motel,” “The Following,” “Hannibal,” “House of Cards,” “Orphan Black” and “Rectify.”

One man’s wish list: “Boardwalk Empire,” “Breaking Bad,” “Justified,” “Mad Men,” “Rectify,” “Treme.”

One man’s best guesses: “The Americans,” “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “Homeland,” “House of Cards.” I had trouble leaving “Boardwalk” and “Mad Men” off this list, but I just have this feeling “Americans” and “Cards” won the TV Academy over.

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