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Emmy Analysis: Outstanding Drama Series

The Crown S4. Picture shows: Prince Charles (JOSH O CONNOR) and Princess Diana (EMMA CORRIN)

Now that Game of Thrones is over and Succession has taken the year off, who will win Outstanding Drama Series? This year saw a reduced number of nominees in many categories, but the Outstanding Drama Series category continues to boast eight nominees. The Handmaid’s Tale is the only previous winner of the group (it won for season one back in 2017). There are also four previous Drama Series nominees, two freshman series and a breakthrough nomination for Amazon Prime’s superhero series The Boys.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the nominees for Outstanding Drama Series.

The Boys / Amazon Prime / Eric Kripke, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver, Neal H. Moritz, Pavun Shetty, Craig Rosenberg, Phil Sgriccia, Rebecca Sonnenshine, Ken F. Levin and Jason Netter, executive producers; Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson and Michael Saltzman, co-executive producers; Michaela Starr, supervising producer; Gabriel Garcia, producer; Hartley Gorenstein, produced by

By expanding its scope and introducing a dynamic new villain, Stormfront (Aya Cash), The Boys only got better in season two. In a culture obsessed with superheroes, this ultraviolent tale of an underground vigilante group trying to take down less-than-super superheroes sharpened its satire. In particular, a storyline where superheroes would turn to a cult-like rehab that resembles Scientology worked both as satire and engaging storytelling. The Boys continues to wrap a great comment on hero worship and celebrity culture in an exciting action package. It also had one of the strongest jumps in nominations year over year. Season One was only nominated for Outstanding Sound Editing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (One Hour). Season Two was able to jump to five nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. While this is great for the foul-mouthed, gory superhero series, it still has the least amount of nominations in the group. For The Boys, getting the Outstanding Drama Series is the win.

Bridgerton / Netflix / Chris Van Dusen, Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers, executive producers; Scott Collins, Alison Eakle, Sara Fischer, Julia Quinn, Leila Cohan-Miccio, Jonathan Igla and Janet Lin, co-executive producers; Holden Chang and Sarah Dollard, producers; Sarada McDermott, produced by

Upon its Christmas premiere, Bridgerton took the zeitgeist by storm. Between the Julie Andrews gossipy narration, string quartet renditions of pop songs and hot sex scenes, Bridgerton lived up to the hype. It was a paperback novel that came to life, pulp and all. Both the romantic complications and central mystery (who is Lady Whistledown) paid off at the end of the season. Not only that, but the show catapulted Regé-Jean Page to stardom (and to a Drama Actor nomination). As juicy as Bridgerton is, that doesn’t usually translate to a Drama Series win. If voters really love the show, Page could be a dark horse in Drama Actor. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like voters are as obsessed as viewers were in the show. It only won one award at the Creative Arts Emmys – Outstanding Period and/or Character Hairstyling. Its pedigree and orchestral version of pop songs should’ve helped it win Music Composition, Music Supervision and Period Costumes. Had Julie Andrews won for Outstanding Narration, then it also would’ve been much more of a major threat.

The Crown / Netflix / Peter Morgan, Suzanne Mackie, Stephen Daldry, Andy Harries, Benjamin Caron, Matthew Byam Shaw and Robert Fox, executive producers; Michael Casey, Andy Stebbing, Martin Harrison and Oona O Beirn, producers

Between Spencer and The Crown, the media world is once again consumed with Princess Diana fever. Season four of The Crown revolved around the emergence of two major British figures – Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) and Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson). Both of them posed their own threats to the Royal Family, one existential and the other literal. These characters and performances breathed new life into the lush, prestige drama. It has clearly been the best season to date. So far, The Crown has won four Creative Arts Emmys, including Outstanding Performance by a Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Claire Foy for roughly three minutes of work. This was the second win for Foy specifically for her role as Queen Elizabeth. If anything, this demonstrates that not only are voters still in love with The Crown, their love has grown over the years. At this point, The Crown has Actress and Supporting Actress sewn up and could conceivably win Directing, Writing and Actor as well. Its status as the frontrunner for Outstanding Drama Series is still very much intact.

The Handmaid’s Tale / Hulu / Bruce Miller, Warren Littlefield, Elisabeth Moss, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears, Eric Tuchman, Sheila Hockin, John Weber, Frank Siracusa, Kira Snyder and Yahlin Chang, executive producers; Dorothy Fortenberry, Margaret Atwood, Kim Todd and Matt Hastings, co-executive producers; Nina Fiore and John Herrera, supervising producers

After a few seasons, some shows struggle to stay fresh. That was definitely the case with The Handmaid’s Tale, which struggled to extend the story past its fantastic first season. While the first half of season four felt like more of the same, the back half of the season finally struck some new chords. The angry, revolutionary spirit of the first season finally came back, aided by fantastic performances by Elisabeth Moss and Samira Wiley, in particular. The Handmaid’s Tale is the only previous winner of Outstanding Drama Series nominated this year. Its proven track record could help it pull off an upset. While notices were stronger for this past season, the Emmys don’t often come back to a show if they’ve lost their momentum. Missing out on Elisabeth Moss for last season only further proves that some percentage of voters may have fallen off a couple of seasons ago. At the Creative Arts Emmys, The Handmaid’s Tale lost all ten of its nominations. Despite a healthy nomination total, it appears the Emmys love affair with The Handmaid’s Tale may have run its course. It could very well lose all of its 21 nominations by Sunday.

Lovecraft Country / HBO MAX / Misha Green, J. J. Abrams, Jordan Peele, Bill Carraro, Yann Demange and Ben Stephenson, executive producers; Rachel Rusch Rich, Jonathan I. Kidd, Sonya Winton-Odamtten and Matt King, co-executive producers; Dana Robin, produced by

If Outstanding Drama Series went to the most ambitious program, Lovecraft Country would be at the top of the pack. The 1950s set sci-fi adventure traversed in plenty of genre conventions as its characters tried to move through the very bigoted South. Jonathan Majors once again proved himself to be a capable and engaging lead. While not all episodes were a home run, it certainly swung episode after episode. Already, Lovecraft Country won two awards at the Creative Arts Emmys, including Outstanding Performance by a Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Courtney B. Vance. The best shot for Lovecraft Country to win on Sunday would be in Supporting Actor for the late Michael K. Williams. If it were to win any other acting category or writing, there could be a path to victory in Drama Series. However, the show’s cancellation after one season puts it at a huge disadvantage in the top category.

The Mandalorian / Disney+ / Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy and Colin Wilson, executive producers; Karen Gilchrist and Carrie Beck, co-executive producers; John Bartnicki, producer

Season two of The Mandelorian upped the ante in many different ways. The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu (aka Baby Yoda) travel throughout the galaxy inching closer and closer to finding Grogu’s home. Confession time: the Star Wars universe has never been my favorite. However, The Mandalorian knows how to craft an entertaining and satisfying mission for even the Star Wars agnostics like myself. In particular, “The Marshal,” “The Jedi” and the epic season finale “The Rescue” best exemplified how TV can be as grand as a film, just in a more bite-sized package. Clearly, Emmy voters also loved season two. It won seven awards during the Creative Arts Emmys. As impressive as that sounds, this is the same number of Creative Arts Emmys that season one won, and that went on to lose every nomination at the Primetime Emmy Awards. It remains to be seen how well it can do this year. If it picks up Supporting Actor and Directing, The Mandelorian could be on its way to a spoiler win in Drama Series.

Pose / FX / Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Alexis Martin Woodall, Sherry Marsh, Steven Canals and Janet Mock, executive producers; Our Lady J, co-executive producer; Tanase Popa, supervising producer; Lou Eyrich, Jeff Dickerson and Todd Nenninger, producers; Kip Davis Myers, produced by

Pose has been a historic and important television show. Over the course of three seasons, it painted a vibrant portrait of the rising ballroom scene in the 80s and 90s, how it influenced the Madonna “Vogue” trend and the devastation that AIDS brought upon the community. In its final season, Pose ended on a high note, giving satisfying endings to many of its beloved characters. Unfortunately, the writing in most of the third season, particularly in the earlier episodes, bounced between over-the-top, bald and lazy. The radical joy and ferocity that punctuated season two particularly had faded away to maudlin, predictable storylines. Still, at least it let out on a high note, which could help it at the Emmys. In the past, some shows like Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad have won the big prize for their final season. However, those shows were already Emmy favorites that they were going to miss. While Pose did well for season one, it only won Drama Actor, not Series. Additionally, it was snubbed in Drama Series for season two. If it is going to get any consolation prize for its final season, it would be in the writing or directing categories for its finale. It’s looking even more likely that Pose will get one of those prizes after it won three prizes at the Creative Arts Emmys (Outstanding Contemporary Costumes, Outstanding Contemporary Hairstyling, Outstanding Contemporary Makeup Non-Prosthetic).

This Is Us / NBC / John Requa, Glenn Ficarra, Charles Gogolak, Ken Olin, Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger, Dan Fogelman and Jess Rosenthal, executive producers; Kay Oyegun, Casey Johnson, David Windsor, Vera Herbert, Julia Brownell, Kevin Falls, K.J. Steinberg and Steve Beers, co-executive producers; Elan Mastai, supervising producer; Nick Pavonetti, producer; Cathy Mickel Gibson, produced by

Everyone loves a good cry. This Is Us became an instant hit thanks to its strong emotional twists, great performances led by Sterling K. Brown (nominated this year) and cross-timeline episodes engineered to make one cry. Sadly, after five years, This Is Us seems to have wrung its audience dry. The COVID season has been topical for sure, with the “Forty” episode digging into race in a more impactful way, particularly in the wake of George Floyd. While that conversation is necessary, it feels like the one bright spot in a show that seems to be running out of ideas. What other maladies can the Pearson family endure? In the past four seasons, This Is Us has won all four of its Emmys for acting (once in Lead Actor and three times in Guest Actor). The fact that This Is Us lost all of its Creative Arts Emmys doesn’t bode well for its chances in Drama Series. Plus, it still has never been nominated for writing or directing over its five seasons. For these reasons, the NBC Drama is the least likely to win of the bunch.

Prediction: The Crown

Preference: The Crown

Sleeper: The Mandalorian


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Written by Chris James

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