In an unexpected year for television, only one thing has remained the same: The Crown has consistently been the frontrunner for Outstanding Drama Series. With that, Netflix will finally be taking home its first, and long overdue, series prize.
Even though it has taken a long time, it is very fitting that this the year that Netflix is poised to take home the top prize. Over the past year and a half, no other network has defined television more than the streaming giant as an entire industry drastically changes in the face of a pandemic. On top of The Crown captivating audiences, we saw show after show shatter streaming records with everything from Ratched to Bridgerton to The Queen’s Gambit pulling in millions of viewers.
Overall, this is a huge year for the major streaming services with the biggest prize of the night squarely lining up to be between the three biggest streamers in the industry. While Netflix is finally the frontrunner with The Crown, Disney+ is hoping for a win with the The Mandalorian and Hulu is hoping to surprise everyone with a second win for The Handmaid’s Tale. On top of all that Apple is poised to win its first series prize in the comedy race. Over the past four years, we’ve seen the streamers win major Emmys but never have they dominated the drama series race like this.
It comes as a surprise to no one that the fourth season of The Crown is the clear favorite heading into this year’s Emmys ceremony. After years of being the bridesmaid at the Emmys, the royal drama has finally become a global phenomenon reaching audiences you would never expect to fall in love with a royal costume drama.
The first three seasons, while extraordinary, were a slow burn for some audiences. However, the fourth season was by far its most accessible as the narrative took time away from the royal family and introduced Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher. As we’ve learned in recent years, our nostalgia for the 80s knows no bounds, and it catapulted the show into becoming one of the most talked about dramas of the year. And no other network is better at creatively channeling that nostalgia into success (think Strange Things and Cobra Kai).
On top of the nostalgia factor, the season premiered at the perfect time where we as a society have been reexamining our relationship with the monarchy. Weeks after the season dropped on Netflix, it seemed like we were going through déjà vu as Harry and Megan fled the UK and sat down with Oprah to detail what they had gone through with the crown in an unsettling parallel to what Diana went through mere decades earlier. There’s also the never-ending rumors regarding Prince Andrew that constantly creep into the headlines.
On top of all that, the fourth season swept through awards season in an undeniable way winning four Golden Globes, its first WGA award, its second consecutive SAG award, third consecutive ASC award, and countless recognition for its crafts. With 24 nominations (11 more than its ever received in a given season) and the unwavering support of audiences, critics, and industry peers its hard to imagine a scenario where The Crown doesn’t finally take home the gold.
Beyond The Crown, there are two other nominees that have proven to be clear favorites of Emmy voters. Both The Mandalorian and The Handmaid’s Tale overperformed in nominations and were the only other shows to receive support from every key branch needed to win the top prize: actors, directors, writers, casting directors, and editors.
The fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale was a stark departure from past seasons with the first half set up as high stakes escape thriller and the second half exploring themes of PTSD and refugee communities as a majority of the ensemble settles into Canada. Most importantly, the fourth season features Elisabeth Moss at her absolute strongest showing that, after nearly fifty episodes, there are still sides to June we have never seen before.
For a show that has previously swept the Emmys, a lot of people were underestimating the fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale heading into nomination morning. Then it went on to receive 21 nominations, including 10 acting nominations. On top of picking up massive support from the actors branch, it received recognition across the board for its direction, writing, and crafts.
A show with this much wide support doesn’t go home empty handed, especially one with that many acting nominations. Elisabeth Moss might very well be on the way to her second Emmy while her onscreen husband, played by O-T Fagbenle, gave the most surprising supporting turn of the year and one that could stand out in a weak supporting lineup.
Now that we’ve seen Emmy voters completely throw out their previous genre bias, this might be the year that we see a show like The Mandalorian sneak in and win the top prize. Last year, it snuck into the drama series lineup with an astounding 15 nominations. This year, the sophomore season of the Disney+ sensation hit a personal record with 24 nominations including recognition for acting, directing, and writing – proving that last year’s success was no fluke.
Last year, the Star Wars drama took everyone by surprise after sneaking into the race and eventually taking home seven of its fifteen nominations with undeniable support from the tech branches. What makes this year different is the fact that it finally made a breakthrough with the top three branches that make or break a show’s momentum: acting, directing, and writing. A series can’t win the top award without the support of at least two of these branches, and now that they all undeniable love The Mandalorian it might be time to take it seriously as a major frontrunner.
On top of the broad support for The Mandalorian voters (or at least a good chunk of them) showed that they are ready to go all out in their love for the second season. Multiple branches nominated the show multiple times particularly picture editors who nominated it FOUR times in one category. The sophomore season also received three acting nominations, two writing nominations, and two cinematography nominations. If voters are willing to go all out in the nomination stage who is to say they won’t do the same when picking their winners.
What also makes this year difference is the fact that Disney+ is clearly a favorite of Emmy voters with shows like The Mandalorian, WandaVision, and even The Falcon and the Winter Soldier earning 50+ combined nominations. It’s clear that voters are looking for exciting, escapist television. When it comes to filling out their ballots, they might go for the show that simply makes them feel the best so no one should be surprised if The Mandalorian pulls off the win.
The Other Nominees
While none of the other shows in this year’s Outstanding Drama Series lineup seem like strong contenders for the top prize, they all still overperformed when it came to nominations proving that none of them should be counted out for a variety of other major awards.
The third and final season of Pose finally received the recognition it deserves with nine nominations. On top of the show’s second series nomination and Emmy winner Billy Porter’s third consecutive nomination the show was finally recognized for its writing, directing, and trailblazing lead actress MJ Rodriguez.
The final season ended on a perfect, and more importantly positive note, satisfying both critics and longtime fans of the show. While there’s little chance that Pose will upset for the top prize of the night there is an opportunity for that goodwill to be channeled into a couple of wins especially in the acting races. MJ Rodriguez stands a good shot at becoming the first trans woman to win an acting Emmy while Billy Porter has the chance to become the first drama actor to pull off a second win since Bryan Cranston.
The second season of The Boys had a breakout year that turned the show from a cult superhero drama into a major awards contender. Throughout the quarantine, The Boys was able to find a massive audience turning it into one of Amazon’s most watched shows to date. A plug from former President Barack Obama didn’t hurt either. It’s a strong contender in a number of tech awards, and after a WGA nomination, an Emmy for writing isn’t out of the question.
Even though HBO quietly cancelled Lovecraft Country after first round voting closed, the supernatural historical drama still earned an astounding 18 nominations including six acting nominations, a writing nomination, and a wide variety of craft recognition. Audiences might have been confused by the show as its story progressed, but there is a reason it was one of the most buzzed about shows of 2020. A win for someone like Michael K. Willliams is not out of the question.
Surprisingly, the first season of Bridgerton only received 12 nominations – which, while a lot, is not as many as you would think for a costume period drama that shattered Netlfix streaming records last winter. Still, there is no denying the popularity of the first season, and that could very well propel it to a costume, music or even a voice-over performance award for Dame Julie Andrews.
After being left out of the drama series for the first time last year, the Television Academy quickly brought This Is Us back into the race. The fifth season was unfocused to say the least, but voters were probably quick to acknowledge the impossible challenge of creating a season of broadcast television in the thick of a pandemic.
- The Crown
- The Mandalorian
- The Handmaid’s Tale
- Lovecraft Country
- The Boys
- This Is Us