Final ‘Succession’ Season Looms Large Over Outstanding Drama Series Race

Contenders for the 2023 Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series include the final seasons of "Succession" and "Better Call Saul" and Season 2 of "The White Lotus."
Succession Season 4 Episode 1 Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin
Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin in Season 4 of HBO's "Succession"
Courtesy of Claudette Barius / HBO

This article contains IndieWire’s preliminary Outstanding Drama Series predictions for the 2023 Emmys. We regularly update our predictions throughout awards season, and republish previous versions (like this one) for readers to track how the Emmys race has changed. For the latest update on the frontrunners for the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards, see our 2023 Emmy predictions hub.

We will update this article throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting takes place from June 15 to June 26, with the official Emmy nominations announced Wednesday, July 12. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be presented over two consecutive nights on Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10, with an edited presentation of the ceremonies to be broadcast on FXX at a later date. Finally, the 75th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards take place on Monday, September 18, and air live on FOX at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

The State of the Race

If we knew a year ago that Season 4 of “Succession” would be the highly acclaimed satirical drama’s final season, there would be the consensus that it would absolutely win one more Emmy for Best Drama. In the present day, that is not the case.

Another breakout satirical dramedy about the rich and unruly — one that won the Emmy for Best Limited Series last year — now vies for an Emmy in the same category. Sure, “Succession” is HBO’s “number-one son,” but “The White Lotus” has undeniable awards momentum coming off a dominant performance at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

What’s more, neither of those shows are even the HBO drama currently dominating the cultural conversation as we enter Emmy season. “The Last of Us” has been a big hit for the network in a time of major uncertainty, given the unpredictable business decisions of its parent company Warner Bros. Discovery. The video game adaptation even got 8.2 million viewers for its Season 1 finale that aired the same Sunday as the Oscars.

Add in “House of the Dragon,” another record-breaking hit for the premium cable network, and we have a Best Drama race that is teed up to contain four HBO shows (possibly five, if “Perry Mason” catches fire with audiences in Season 2). Sure, this won’t be the first time that HBO has had to compete against itself, but this surfeit of success could become a problem that affects the network’s awards prospects.

In terms of the shows that could cut through and win, the most likely candidate is the final season of “Better Call Saul,” a show that has earned 46 Emmy nominations over six seasons and zero wins. The voting faction who keep the “Breaking Bad” spinoff nominated each year may overtake the HBO fans when given this final chance to honor it. Showtime’s “Yellowjackets” is another series that earned a lot of Emmys attention for its debut season, airing on a network that has bested HBO before in this category.

As for the rest of the field, it has not been a strong year for the streaming dramas that make TV Academy viewers pay attention. Best Drama winners “The Crown” (Netflix) and “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu) are each five seasons in with a wide but diminishing audience. Disney+ has Star Wars shows vying for an award that does not often embrace science fiction (although the critically acclaimed “Andor” on Disney+ could prove to be an exception).

Amazon Prime Video is still figuring out whether to give the full push to “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” (which did not do as well at the service had hoped with guild awards) or “The Boys,” which received a Best Drama nomination in 2021 — the year that COVID shut down most productions — but really upped its gross-out factor in season 3.

Finally, newer streaming services like Paramount+ and Peacock have some freshman contenders that are either super starry (the former’s “Yellowstone” prequel, “1923”) or from a celebrated creator (Peacock’s Damon Lindelof-produced “Mrs. Davis”). Apple TV+ reaches a happy medium on that front with the dramedy “Bad Sisters,” helmed by the well-liked, but so far Emmy-less, creator/star Sharon Horgan.

Current Contenders (In Alphabetical Order):
“1923” (Paramount+)
“Andor” (Disney+)
“Bad Sisters” (Apple TV+)
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“House of the Dragon” (HBO)
“Interview with the Vampire” (AMC)
“The Last of Us” (HBO)
“Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” (Amazon Prime Video)
“The Mandalorian” (Disney+)
“Mrs. Davis” (Peacock)
“Succession” (HBO)
“The White Lotus” (HBO)
“Yellowjackets” (Showtime)

More Drama Category Predictions:
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

To see IndieWire’s full set of predictions for the 75th Emmy Awards click here.

Last Year’s Winner: “Succession”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: Although “Succession” has won the category the past two seasons it’s been eligible, both “The Crown,” which won the category during the HBO drama’s year off, and “The White Lotus,” a new category entry that won Best Limited Series last year, stand in its way of a three-peat.
Notable Ineligible Series: “Severance” (Season 2 was not eligible); “Squid Game” (Season 2 was not eligible); “Bridgerton” (Season 3 was not eligible); “Euphoria” (Season 3 was not eligible); “The Morning Show” (Season 3 was not eligible); “Stranger Things” (Season 5 was not eligible); “Killing Eve” (ended); “Ozark” (ended); “This is Us” (ended)

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.