This is a year unlike any other, with numerous series delayed indefinitely due to the production shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. That was felt minimally in the Emmy race this summer, and will greatly influence the year-end awards, which themselves have already been delayed. Plenty could change between now and the December 30th deadline for television entry submission, but here’s a working detailed breakdown of where things stand in this truly unprecedented year.
Best Television Series – Drama
Last year’s nominees
Defending champion Succession may be filming by the end of 2020, but there’s no way its third season will be anywhere near done. While season two of The Morning Show is currently in production, seeing it in the next few months also seems unlikely. We may well get a third round of Big Little Lies eventually, but it probably wouldn’t come together until after the pandemic. The Crown is one show that finished filming before the pandemic, and it’s almost guaranteed to be among the nominees for its fourth season, which premieres on Netflix on November 15th. It won this prize for its first season in 2016 and has been nominated every time it was eligible. The final nominee from last year was Killing Eve, which earned its second consecutive bid before a surprisingly strong showing at the Emmys this summer for season three, which aired from April to May of this year. It’s odd to think that the show, which has been hit-or-miss with awards bodies after early enthusiasm, may be a default nominee purely due to the lack of returning competition.
There are a few shows that were nominated in past years, but it’s worth noting that a return to this category – which tends to honor freshman series and then forget about them – following an absence is very rare. Game of Thrones and The Good Wife are the only exceptions in the past decade, and The Americans showed up for a farewell trophy after no previous bids in this race. Interestingly, the only show that was nominated the last time it was eligible is Homecoming, which returned to minimal fanfare on Amazon Prime this past May after a year-and-a-half break. Its almost nonexistent Emmy showing for either season makes a comeback here unlikely. Westworld contended for season one in 2016 and was snubbed for season two, and it’s possible that its third season, which Emmy voters ignored in the corresponding category, could be recognized. This Is Us was nominated in 2016 and 2017 before being completely shut out by Globe voters the past two years. Its return feels more plausible since it is the only awards-friendly series actively filmed during the pandemic and currently airing new episodes. It’s worth mentioning that Outlander is still eligible, as is Narcos: Mexico, but there’s no reason to expect that either series will be nominated. The first season of the former and of the original Narcos were cited only once, both in 2015.
Possible first-time honorees
Golden Globe voters don’t always go for the same shows Emmy voters do, and there are two popular Emmy nominees for Best Drama Series that haven’t ever made the cut here. Both Better Call Saul (now on season five) and Ozark (now on season three) have previously received mentions for their lead actors at the Globes, and may be kindly looked upon this time, especially since neither was eligible in 2019. The other potential newcomer is The Mandalorian, which, like Watchmen, received absolutely no Globe love last year before taking home very substantial Emmy hauls. The second season of The Mandalorian is currently airing, and may earn a bid if voters channel the genre energy that enabled The Walking Dead to be nominated in this category a decade ago.
Though streamers have been all the rage recently, the three strongest new contenders may actually be from mainstay HBO, which has only missed two years since it was first nominated in this category in 1999 for The Sopranos. Though it has yet to be renewed and didn’t show up in a big way at the Emmys, The Outsider is a distinct possibility. A likelier choice is Lovecraft Country, which is definitely genre but might align with the tastes that earned True Blood and The X-Files spots in this category in the past. And then there’s Perry Mason, the update of the classic series that, back in 1960, was cited for “Television Achievement.” The new show was well-received and feels like an easy selection for voters to make. Another possibility is Netflix’s Ratched, which comes from creator Ryan Murphy, who has had three previous series nominated in this category: Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story, and Pose.
- The Crown
- Perry Mason
- Lovecraft Country