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Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Drama Series — Can ‘Squid Game’ Succeed ‘Succession’?

The 2022 Emmys will likely have a slew of returning Best Drama Series contenders facing off against streaming phenomenon "Squid Game."

"Squid Game"

“Squid Game”

Netflix

 

ConsiderThis

Last Year’s Winner: “The Crown”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: With last year’s winner out of the race, talk of a streak goes to a network level. Will Netflix, which won the category for the very first time last year, keep the momentum going with a “Squid Game” win, or will HBO reclaim their throne now that “Succession” is back?
Notable Ineligible Series: “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Season 6 was not eligible); “The Crown” (Season 5 was not eligible); “Westworld” (Season 4 was not eligible); “The Boys” (Season 3 was not eligible); “The Mandalorian” (Season 3 was not eligible)

This article will be updated throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2022 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting will take place from June 16 to June 27, with the official Emmy nominations to be announced on Tuesday, July 12. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out over two consecutive nights on Saturday, September 3 and Sunday, September 4, with an edited presentation on the ceremonies to be broadcast on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 8:00 p.m. ET on FXX. Finally, the 74rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place on Monday, September 12, and air live on NBC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

The State of the Race

Would probably be good to just rip the band-aid off here: “Succession” is going to be hard to beat. It is the only previous Outstanding Drama Series winner eligible, and any conversations about a drop in quality Season 3 were quelled by a very memorable, meme-able finale.

What becomes interesting about the race in this category is what another show winning would say about how television is changing. For example, there is a strong argument that “Squid Game,” the most successful Netflix original series of all time, is the HBO family drama’s biggest competition. It already beat “Succession” in a couple key categories at the Screen Actors Guild Awards this year. A win for “Squid Game” would be a major triumph for international TV production, and further acknowledgement of American audiences not needing every show to be in the English language.

Another fascinating example of what could be a game-changing win is fellow HBO series, “Euphoria,” getting the Drama Series Emmy. Zendaya’s 2020 win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series put a foot in the door that hopefully opens to the TV Academy giving more recognition to teen shows, arguably the medium’s most impactful genre. Look how we are still talking about “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “The O.C.,” ”Friday Night Lights,” and more, despite them having been off the air for 10+ years, and having received only a sparse amount of Emmys attention. Even if Season 2 of “Euphoria” was polarizing, it did push television forward, and command respect for young, often overlooked acting talent.

A win being meaningful does not have to be that deep though. “This Is Us” winning for its final season would be a nice acknowledgment of its incredible run as an increasingly rare broadcast mega-hit. “Ozark” is in a similar boat with its final season being eligible. While it has collected multiple awards, the Emmys have never gone as far as saying it is the best drama on TV, but there is a decent chance that could change this year with a golden farewell. “Better Call Saul” is the last one teasing a final season, but since it is split in half, the AMC series will still be eligible for next year’s Emmys as well. Still, it is already working towards a fireworks conclusion, so there is a lot of enthusiasm around it making 2022’s final nominations cut.

“Severance” and “Yellowjackets” are two newcomers that definitely do have a lot to say, just maybe don’t speak to something that offers a bigger picture of how TV is changing. At a base level, we already know viewers love a good mystery.

Speaking of the unknown, it will be interesting to see in the coming weeks which shows premiering right towards the eligibility deadline, if any, make enough of a mark to make the final cut for nominations. Lateness is likely the greatest factor hurting “Stranger Things,” since Netflix also keeps everything surrounding the blockbuster series so top secret. However, any show that considers itself a mainstay in nominations though should look out for “Pachinko” being right on its tail. The arresting series hits on a lot of trends TV enthusiasts are talking about, from intrigue around the rapid ascension of Apple TV+, to shows with a more international tilt.

Also, even though “Shining Girls” is coming out towards the end of eligibility, in a pool of worthy dramas from the same streaming service, one can never count out the Emmys paying close attention to an Elisabeth Moss vehicle.

Predicted Nominees:
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“Euphoria” (HBO)
“Ozark” (Netflix)
“Severance” (Apple TV+)
“Squid Game” (Netflix)
“Succession” (HBO)
“This Is Us” (NBC)
“Yellowjackets” (Showtime)

Contenders:
“Bridgerton” (Netflix)
“Pachinko” (Apple TV+)
“Yellowstone” (Paramount Network)

In a Perfect World:
“Snowfall” (FX)
“The Good Fight” (Paramount+)
“Winning Time: Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” (HBO)

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