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.” It’s happening. The last two winners in this category are facing off for the first time this year, in the Emmy’s “Fight of the Century.” “Game of Thrones” has won the last two times it was nominated, but “The Handmaid’s Tale” took the crown when HBO’s blockbuster drama took the year off in 2017.
Which defending champion will prove to be the favorite? “Game of Thrones” has more nominations, leading all programs with 22, but “The Handmaid’s Tale” snagged seven more nods in 2018 than 2017. It’s got 20, making it a virtually even draw as far as nominations go. Both series suffered slightly disappointing seasons, but “The Handmaid’s Tale” backlash is more recent — could the fresh fallout make the difference?
Of course, this isn’t technically a two-horse race. There are five other nominees, and there’s a case to be made for each of them. “The Crown” still has Netflix backing it, the respect of the industry, and the awards appeal all period dramas seem to attract. “Stranger Things” may have earned less nods in its sophomore season than its debut, but it’s the only series that can compete with “Game of Thrones” on the mass popularity front. “This Is Us” comes close, and if people responded to an extended examination of Jack’s grisly death, the NBC series could pull an upset. “Westworld” saw a ratings decline in its second season, but the TV Academy love is still strong with 21 nominations — perhaps Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s sci-fi drama has one more twist up its sleeve.
But odds are if any show can topple the two former champions, it’s the long-ignored FX drama, “The Americans.” After a critically hailed final season, key nominations in acting and writing, as well as six seasons worth of snubs to make up for, perhaps the TV Academy will finally recognize the long-running critics’ pick. At the very least, it should reward Keri Russell.
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”
Will Win: “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Could Win: “Game of Thrones”
Should Win: “The Americans”