Last Year’s Winner: “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: Five of the seven nominees in 2017 were new series, making it the highest percentage of first seasons to be nominated this century.
Fun Fact: In 2017, “The Handmaid’s Tale” became the first original show from a streaming network to win Best Drama Series.
“Game of Thrones.” “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The last two winners in this category are facing off for the first time in 2018, but they both have to get nominated before we can have the Emmy’s “Fight of the Century.” Both are eligible and looking strong, as “Game of Thrones” remains a cultural juggernaut and “The Handmaid’s Tale” moves forward with nearly all the creatives who made Season 1 great.
Most of last year’s nominees are in a good position, too. “The Crown” received rave reviews for its second season and remains the kind of period drama voters flock to; “Stranger Things” put forth a solid sophomore season, living up to all the hype; and “Westworld” hasn’t hit yet, but all indications are the HBO drama will keep viewers glued to the screen for more gripping sci-fi twists and turns. If any of the returning nominees are in trouble, it could be “This Is Us.” The NBC drama has seen a bit of critical backlash by over-extending Jack’s death, but the ratings are still high and performances still strong.
But two of the 2017 class are likely on the outs: “Better Call Saul” isn’t expected to premiere in time to be eligible, and neither is “House of Cards.” That means two open spots — just one if you assume “Game of Thrones” will get back in. So what will get that last spot? “The Americans” fell out of favor in 2017, but complaints about a slow narrative will likely disappear for the shortened final season. “Mr. Robot” had a bounce-back year, too, though perhaps not as splashy as needed to get back in the Outstanding Drama Series category. Old favorites like “Homeland” and “Scandal” (also in its final season) will need to be equally buzzed-about if they hope to score a nod.
And then there are the newbies: “The Chi” is Showtime’s best contender since “Homeland” and likely has better odds than the veteran this year. “The Good Doctor” is hoping to follow in the footsteps of “This Is Us” and score another big nod for broadcast. “The Deuce” might face similar problems at the Emmys, as its star James Franco saw at the Oscars with “The Disaster Artist,” but David Simon remains a critical favorite. TNT wants “The Alienist” to follow in the footsteps of “True Detective,” and it just might be able to play to the period-loving Emmy voters. “Counterpart” and “Legion” hope they’re not too strange for the TV Academy, while “Mr. Mercedes” just hopes enough members watch it.
Are we forgetting anything… oh, yeah: Netflix. Aside from “The Crown” and “Stranger Things,” the streaming giant has “Mindhunter,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “Ozark” all eligible and with good reasons to believe in each. David Fincher’s name has proven to be a successful draw in the past, as has “Orange” overall (until last year), and “Ozark” scored key nominations at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. It could have some serious pull with voters.
Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Drama Series (listed in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2018 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well.
- “The Americans”
- “The Crown”
- “Game of Thrones”
- “The Handmaid’s Tale”
- “Stranger Things”
- “This Is Us”
Spoilers: “The Chi,” “The Deuce,” “Homeland,” “House of Cards,” “Mindhunter,” “Mr. Robot,” “Ozark,” “Scandal,” “Trust”
In a Perfect World: “Counterpart,” “Legion”