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Emmy Predictions 2017: Outstanding Drama Series

"Game of Thrones" is out, so what new and returning contenders will have a shot at the crown?

"The Americans" Season 5 Matthew Rhys Keri Russell

Patrick Harbron/FX

Last Year’s Winner: “Game of Thrones”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: “House of Cards” has been nominated four years running…without a win. And the 2017 season is the first without creator Beau Willimon running the show.
Fun Fact: The most recent debut seasons to win Outstanding Drama Series were “Homeland” (2012), “Mad Men” (2008), and “Lost” in 2005.

HBO is prepared for this. As soon as the network announced the new season of “Game of Thrones” wouldn’t premiere in time to be Emmys eligible, rumors started to float about what would take the two-time Drama Series winner’s slot. The obvious answer is “Westworld,” a critically and commercially successful new drama with an A-list cast and early success on the awards circuit. Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan’s western/sci-fi series earned three Golden Globe nominations and three SAG Award nominations already, and it’s sure to get a heavy push from HBO during Emmys season.

That’s not the network’s only option, though. “The Leftovers” is airing in the coveted “Game of Thrones” timeslot (Sunday nights in April through June), and its final season is being heavily promoted already. Though Damon Lindelof’s heavy drama has yet to break through at the Emmys after two seasons, a significant rise in critical praise during Season 2 boosted the show’s profile, and the actors (including Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, and the younger cast members) have gained more and more prominence in the industry.

READ MORE: ‘The Leftovers’ Season 3 Trailer: TV’s Best Show Returns More Nihilistic Than Ever

While HBO is the reigning king of the Emmys, other networks have to see 2017 as an excellent opportunity to dethrone the premium cable giant. Of last year’s Drama Series nominees, only “Downton Abbey” is out of the running (after wrapping its long run in early 2016). “Better Call Saul” (AMC), “Homeland” (Showtime), “House of Cards” (Netflix), “Mr. Robot” (USA), and “The Americans” (FX) will all be offering new seasons in 2017.

So what new series are looking good? It’s hard to ignore populist picks “Stranger Things” and “This Is Us” after strong showings for both freshman dramas at the SAG Awards and Golden Globes. NBC will certainly be giving Dan Fogelman’s hit drama a strong push, and it appears to have the best shot of breaking in among broadcast series. How Netflix will juggle campaigns for “Stranger Things,” “House of Cards,” and “The Crown” should prove interesting, as it’s unlikely all three sneak into the race — even though all three have good reason to think they could.

FX, meanwhile, is probably hoping to nab two nominations in the category. “The Americans” finally broke in last year (after three seasons of snubs), and now FX has other drama series to back: “Legion,” from fresh Emmys favorite Noah Hawley, has considerable momentum thanks to great reviews and strong early ratings. If it can shake the superhero stigma, Hawley could be up for both “Fargo” and “Legion” in 2017. And “Taboo” is a dark horse option, given how well-liked Tom Hardy is around town. Depending on reviews, Starz’s upcoming debut “American Gods” could get a push, unless executives think “Outlander” has a better shot. The same goes for Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which will need a boost from critics to get Hulu over the hump at the Emmys.

READ MORE: ‘Rectify’ Review: Incredible Series Finale Cements Ray McKinnon’s SundanceTV Dramas as One of the Greats

Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Drama Series (in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the awards season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2017 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all categories, as well.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “The Americans”
  2. “Better Call Saul”
  3. “The Crown”
  4. “House of Cards”
  5. “Mr. Robot”
  6. “This Is Us”
  7. “Westworld”

Spoilers: “Homeland,” “The Leftovers,” “Legion,” “Stranger Things”

In a Perfect World: “The Path, “Rectify”

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You really think Stranger Things will miss? It has hit practically every single precursor and industry award plus won SAG ensemble…


    The problem with Stranger Things is it’s a relatively family friendly series, and these days those types of shows don’t stand a chance. If it’s not top-loaded with sex it doesn’t stand a chance. Which is why I don’t expect The Crown to do well either. In a perfect world my choice would actually be Victoria.


I would love for Star, How To Get Away With Murder, Empire & Nashville to get some Emmy Love.


Is Homeland still a thing? Like it was the show that everyone loved in 2011 for creating one of the greatest seasons of TV but now its just a typical show and anyone who watches it should expose themselves to The Americans. Rectify will be long forgotten once Emmy season starts. I’m crossing my fingers for The Leftovers, S3 looks to be the most ambitious thing on TV (seriously the teasers make me more excited for it than Twin Peaks). I do bet that Noah Hawley will get nominated and win Best Directing for the pilot of Legion, he is an Emmy favorite and maybe the Emmys will be cowardly in rewarding the series with a Best Drama nom. The Crown seems to be the show that will replace Downton Abbey, it has Emmy bait written all over it. As for who will take GoT’s spot, my money is on Westworld although it could go to Stranger Things, the two will battle it out.

Hunter Bergfeld

Stranger Things Won the PGA and the SAG and got noms at the WGA, It preformed better at the circuit than ANY OTHER SHOW, including GoT. There is NO POSSIBLE WAY it won’t be nominated.


Are you really not even mentioning the brilliant season 4 of Orange is the new black?


    OITNB Season 4 should be nominated. It was the show’s best season yet. But usually with the Emmy Awards, once you’re jettisoned for something new it’s hard to get back in even for consideration. Which is a crime in my book. I’m not sure why everyone loves This Is Us so much, but okay. The Leftovers should be nominated as well…that show is so criminally underrated it makes me livid. Along with The Americans, which continues its consistent high quality in Season 5. My ideal nominations would be:

    The Americans
    House of Cards
    The Leftovers
    Orange is the New Black
    Mr. Robot

    I would replace Mr. Robot with The Handmaid’s Tale, but I’m not sure if it’s a drama series or a mini-series.


Westworld doesn’t deserve a nod. In technical/artistic categories yes but I was pretty underwhelmed with it as a drama after watching the whole season. Stranger Things should definitely score a nom. Would love to see Ray Donovan finally get a Best Drama nom but it will likely remain stuck in the acting categories only.


And while I love The Leftovers, S3 won’t debut in time to qualify for this year’s Emmy Awards. S2 was better received by critics than S1, though, so maybe S2 sneaks in with a nom, although I think HBO may put all their weight behind pushing Westworld since they really need it to be their next big thing. GoT goes away after next year, The Leftovers ends this year. That’s it for current hourlong series at HBO these days.


    The leftovers is eligible this year, for season 3, which debuts on April 16, plenty early enough to be eligible.


      You’re right. The finale won’t have aired before the May 31 cut-off but the first seven eps will, so it will be eligible. Hope it has a great ending — the trailer looks awesome!


Does anyone think “Orange Is The New Black” will be back for Outstanding Drama this year after it’s 3rd season snubbed last year? Season 4 is really a great comeback.


dude seriously this is us is shit and its not gettin in over strangerthings


What about Bates Motel? Good writing, characters, acting and directing?

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