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2016 Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Drama Series

Can "Game of Thrones" repeat after its 2015 upset, or will a newcomer make a run at the throne?

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones


Quick Hits

  • Last Year’s Winner: Game of Thrones
  • Was It an Upset? Yes. Most expected “Mad Men” to win in its final year of eligibility.
  • Still Eligible? Yes
  • Hot Streak: Despite dominating in total nominations and wins throughout, HBO hadn’t won a trophy for Outstanding Drama Series in seven years — until last year.
  • Fun Fact: The last time HBO won — prior to last year — there were only five nominees in the category. It expanded to six in 2008 and now stands at seven, which began in 2015.

READ MORE: Why the Emmys Should Crown ‘The Americans,’ Not ‘Game of Thrones’: IndieWire’s Emmy Endorsements (Drama)

Can anything stop “Game of Thrones”? The HBO ratings juggernaut and record-breaking Emmy winner last year (12 wins, the most for a single series in one year) only seems better positioned in 2016, garnering a boatload of nominations to lead the field. It even snagged a few extra acting nods, and — even though it’s competing against itself in a few categories — it could still walk away with more wins than last year. So what might stop it?

“Mr. Robot” is the only newcomer, meaning (optimistically) it could be even more well-liked than “Game of Thrones,” and we just don’t know it yet. (Hey, I said, “optimistically.”) It certainly doesn’t have the nominations count on its side (USA’s drama grabbed six), but it’s up for key categories like Lead Actor and Writing. So maybe it’ll get lucky.

Similarly, “The Americans” is in contention for the first time in the top category, and years of promotion and buildup could give it a boost from people who will now finally make the time to check out FX’s best drama. Meanwhile, Netflix will be backing Beau Willimon’s final season with “House of Cards,” and PBS will be pushing the legit last season of “Downton Abbey.” Both are clearly well-liked, but will need a helluva campaign to edge out “Game of Thrones.”

READ MORE: Why ‘Mr. Robot’ Getting Emmys Recognition Is Very Good News for the Emmys, And Television

The same goes for Showtime, whose team will be relying on nostalgic, dedicated fans to take “Homeland” all the way. AMC might push the nostalgia factor, too, for “Better Call Saul.” “Breaking Bad” was cherished by the Academy, and Bob Odenkirk, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have been crafting a worthy successor over two top-tier seasons.

Below are Indiewire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Drama Series, which will be updated throughout the awards season. Make sure to keep checking Indiewire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2016 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all categories, as well.

READ MORE: ‘The Americans’: The Emmys Finally Nominated the Best Drama on Cable

The Nominees:

  1. “The Americans”
  2. “Better Call Saul”
  3. “Downton Abbey”
  4. “Game of Thrones”
  5. “Homeland”
  6. “House of Cards”
  7. “Mr. Robot”

Will Win: “Game of Thrones”
Could Win: “The Americans”
Should Win: “The Americans”

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