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Emmy Predictions 2017: Outstanding Drama Series

Final Predictions: "Westworld" leads the field in total nominations, but can three Netflix originals — or one scrappy Hulu series — topple HBO?

Evan Rachel Wood Jeffrey Wright Westworld Season 1 Episode 10

Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright in “Westworld”

John P. Johnson/HBO

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.

Well, look at not-so-little-old “Westworld.” HBO’s big bet to make up for the absence of “Game of Thrones” — which had to sit this year out due to airing outside the eligibility period — paid off, as Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s drama snagged the most nominations of any drama and tied for the most nominations overall, with 22. (“SNL” also had 22.)

But even after an impressive showing at the Creative Arts Emmys, “Westworld” has some stiff competition. Before it can be handed the crown from defending champion, “Game of Thrones,” it has to deal with, well, “The Crown.” Netflix’s ambitious, expensive, and well-received period drama snagged 13 total nominations and has a strong fan base in the industry. Netflix will have to decide which of its nominees to push the hardest, though, as “Stranger Things” (which won the Emmy for drama casting, an award that often goes hand-in-hand with the Drama Series winner) and “House of Cards” also made the cut.

It’s a problem every network wants to have — three nominees in the same category — but is it really a problem? Vote-splitting can certainly affect results, but these three dramas couldn’t be more different: The Duffer Brothers’ fun ’80s sci-fi homage to classic young-adult stories is technically competing against a deeply serious period drama about the royal family circa the early ’50s and a self-winking political soap opera set in modern America. Two are new, one has been here before. Their common factor is Netflix, so voters will be drawn to each independent of who’s making it.

Netflix should probably be more worried about its direct competitor, Hulu, who finally broke into the race with “The Handmaid’s Tale.” With rave reviews, a feminist theme many voters can get behind, and Emmy favorite Elisabeth Moss front and center, Hulu’s breakthrough into the drama race could result in its first win.

But they’re not the only strong first-timer in the mix. “This Is Us” is a major player for NBC, the first nod from the big four broadcast networks since “The Good Wife” in 2011. With 11 total nominations and a lot of support expected from the actors within the TV Academy, Dan Fogelman’s twist-y family drama could make a play for the win. That is, unless “Better Call Saul” edges them out. “Breaking Bad” didn’t win until Season 5, so a Season 3 victory of its prequel series would put “Better Call Saul” ahead of schedule.

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 2017 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all categories, as well.

The Nominees:

  1. “Better Call Saul”
  2. “The Crown”
  3. “The Handmaid’s Tale”
  4. “House of Cards”
  5. “Stranger Things”
  6. “This Is Us”
  7. “Westworld”

Will Win: “Stranger Things”
Could Win: “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Should Win: “The Handmaid’s Tale”

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