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.
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 another 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. 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.
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.
- “The Americans”
- “Better Call Saul”
- “The Crown”
- “House of Cards”
- “Mr. Robot”
- “This Is Us”
Spoilers: “Homeland,” “The Leftovers,” “Legion,” “Stranger Things”
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