The Cold War has never been more edge-of-your-seat thrilling than in Joe Weisberg’s Reagan-era spy drama.
Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga bring pathos and weight to Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin’s taut psychological drama where an Oedipus complex takes center stage.
A critically hailed performance by James Spader contributed to the breakout success of this freshman series.
Though the list of contenders grows every year, Terence Winter’s crime drama is always in the conversation given its strong ensemble and top-notch production values and this season is no different.
Vince Gilligan’s smallscreen juggernaut won best drama last year and most critics and fans felt that its final eight episodes were the show’s best to date.
Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid’s American adaptation of the Swedish-Danish crime drama is gritty, chilling and forces us to examine immigration policy in the U.S.
“Call the Midwife”
The absorbing British import created by Heidi Thomas delves into the oft poignant and heartbreaking world of midwives working in London’s gritty East End in the early 1950s.
After eight seasons, America’s benevolent serial killer sailed off to a lonely island, but left fans still asking, will he murder again?
Still hits the target in season five. The verbose and violent Boyd Crowder remains one of TV’s most memorable villains, thanks to Walton Goggins’ magnetic turn.
“Law & Order: SVU”
Fifteen seasons with no end in sight proves that Dick Wolf’s long-running series offers more than just weekend marathons.
Having just finished the first half of its last seasons, the clock is ticking on enigmatic ad man Don Draper, and Matthew Weiner’s show, which has nabbed best drama wins four times, is due to go out on a high.
“Masters of Sex”
Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen’s onscreen chemistry sizzles in this titillating look at the research team that revolutionized the way we look at sex.
Dan Stevens’ departure left audiences appalled, but Julian Fellowes’ popular period piece could receive an Emmy nod for other cast members’ powerful performances.
“Game of Thrones”
The “Red Wedding” was but one bloodbath in this shocking drama, which continues to surprise viewers with powerful acting and surprise killings.
“The Good Wife”
One jolting, and perfectly executed, cast departure helped propel the cerebral legal drama from Michelle and Robert King to new heights in its confident fifth season.
USA has boldly broken out of its breezy, blue skies mold with this brooding, unpredictable tale of secrecy and betrayal among covert law enforcement agents.
Moody cinematography, lush production design and two captivating central performances from Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen make Bryan Fuller’s drama an irresistible dish.
Brody’s shocking death during the season finale proves that while the Emmy winning-series lost some of its initial luster, it has the power to pull us back in.
“House of Cards”
A jaw-dropping premiere twist ensured that audiences still had plenty of reason to binge Netflix’s addictive political thriller in its sly second season.
Nic Pizzolatto’s meditative deconstruction of procedural tropes features powerhouse performances from Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and dominated cultural conversation during its svelte eight-episode run.
The Revolutionary War thriller premiered its first season this year centering on Jamie Bell as farmer turned spy.
“Under the Dome”
The combo of Stephen King and Steven Spielberg — along with the show’s popularity — puts this sci-fier on the map. But it may be considered more popcorn fare than Emmy fare.
“The Walking Dead”
Still the most-watched nonsports show in cable history, the post-apocalyptic drama continues to break ratings records and leave audiences shrieking after four seasons.
Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere shine as dueling country superstars at the center of ABC’s musical soap, but the catchy soundtrack really steals the show.
There’s no denying the pedigree of Aaron Sorkin’s articulate examination of the media, which showcases a grandiose central performance from Jeff Daniels.
“Once Upon a Time”
The whimsical fantasy drama still has audiences swooning after its third season, introducing some of Disney’s beloved characters to Oz’s most wicked villain.
Star Tatiana Maslany singlehandedly does the work of an ensemble in this labyrinthine sci-fi drama, portraying multiple clones in an impressive demonstration of technical acuity.
A rare bird in today’s edgy TV terrain, Jason Katims’ quiet ode to modern-day parenting deserves overdue Academy recognition.
Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight clash as father and son in the latest drama from Ann Biderman.
Coming off its most-watched season yet, the buzz shows no signs of cooling for the ambitious, addictive Shonda Rhimes drama.