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2017 Emmys: Drama Series Analysis

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This year’s Drama Series category is first notable not for what’s going to make it in but what isn’t. Downton Abbey‘s first season was as a Miniseries (where it won) but once it was decided the show would continue on it was submitted in Drama Series where it was nominated for all of its five-season run, never winning the top award. Game of Thrones, which normally debuts in April is sitting out this Emmy season as the show’s 7th season won’t debut until July. It is the reigning champ, having won Drama Series two years in a row and the show broke the Emmy record last year for most wins by a television series in a single year (12). That leaves a lot of open spots down the line, including two in the top category.

Even with seven nominees now, there is a wealth of new series’ that debuted to high ratings and high acclaim this season, all elbowing each other for a spot. At the moment it’s probably safe to say that The Americans, Better Call Saul and House of Cards will be returning. Although, there is definitely an argument to be made that the current political climate could show fatigue for a show like House of Cards. A big question mark is the fate of Mr. Robot (which won Rami Malek Lead Actor in a Drama Series last year) and Homeland (a previous Drama Series winner). Both shows were in last year, Mr. Robot‘s first (for its debut season) and Homeland‘s third). It feels like those two shows are in a very precarious position in the face of five new shows, all of which stand a good chance of getting in. There’s also Orange is the New Black. When the show debuted as a comedy series it earned 12 nominations (winning three) but its subsequent move to drama by the Television Academy dropped those numbers to four noms and one win for its second season and a single nomination for its third. A return seems unlikely but not going to count it out quite yet, it just won another SAG ensemble for a comedy series earlier this year.

Netflix’s The Crown feels like a lock. The Golden Globe-winning royal family saga was rapturously received and is bound to scoop up the majority of the Downton Abbey voting bloc. The show has acting contenders galore as well as the obvious costume, hair and art direction nominations that will follow. It will likely end up the most nominated show of the year as a result of its broad support.

Stranger Things, also from Netflix, was THE most buzzed about show of last summer. It was nostalgic and atmospheric, heralded the comeback of Winona Ryder and made superstars out of the four main kid stars. Its surprise win at the Screen Actors Guild for its ensemble (where Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown also received individual noms) was exceptional in that it beat Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey (a three-time winner in its final season), Westworld and The Crown. It also gave us the second-best awards season moment of the year. It may seem too ‘genre’ but the Emmys have finally latched onto non-traditional dramas so it feels pretty safe.

HBO, without Game of Thrones, has two options; Westworld and The Young Pope. While The Young Pope garnered a ton of Twitter buzz before its premiere, it certainly dissipated soon after. Outside of Jude Law’s over the top role and performance it feels like a longshot for it to break in. That makes Westworld the clear choice. Not only is it the bigger, better, more luxuriously produced show but it also landed a ton of guild support and precursors (as well as Golden Globe nods) including three SAG award noms, the art directors, editors, sound, costume and cinematographers guilds plus the top three guilds; Directors, Writers, and Producers. That makes the show pretty undeniable.

The biggest question mark is the fate of NBC’s This Is Us. The biggest scripted network drama series in years was one of the most talked about shows of the season, with a season finale that earned 12.8M same-day viewers. It earned a Golden Globe nomination for Drama Series, the first time in 10 years an NBC show had done that. But is the soapy family drama strong enough to go up against harder, tougher material from cable and streaming? It’s no secret that the Emmys have strayed from network shows in this category. CBS’s The Good Wife and NBC’s Friday Night Lights were the last network shows to land a Drama Series nomination, both in 2011. A nomination here would be a huge coup for NBC and networks in general. The stinger here is that, even with enormous buzz, the show failed to earn a SAG ensemble nomination, losing out to some of the very same competition mentioned above. It still managed a nomination for Sterling K. Brown but missing out there will be the piece we all come back to if the show fails to earn a Drama Series mention in July when the nominations are announced.

For now, here are the 2017 Emmy nomination predictions (in alphabetical order) from the Emmy Experts in Drama Series.

2017 EMMYS Erik Anderson Fred Artico Chris Pepper Nicole Latayan Jonathan Boehle
The Americans The Americans The Americans The Americans The Americans
Better Call Saul Better Call Saul Better Call Saul Better Call Saul Better Call Saul
 DRAMA The Crown The Crown The Crown The Crown The Crown
 SERIES House of Cards House of Cards Homeland House of Cards Stranger Things
Stranger Things Stranger Things House of Cards Stranger Things This Is Us
This Is Us This Is Us Stranger Things This Is Us Westworld
Westworld Westworld Westworld Westworld The Young Pope

About Erik Anderson

Erik blames his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched them together since he opened his eyes. They also watched Miss Universe religiously every year (the pageantry!) and Erik came to the conclusion that the combination of these two things ultimately led him down the path to obsessing about awards and ACTRESSING. He began at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association), the International Press Academy and is the founder/editor of AwardsWatch.

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