With less than two weeks until this year’s Emmy ceremony ADTV breaks down the race for Outstanding Drama Series. Will Succession pull off another win or are we underestimating a strong lineup of competition?
After the breakout sophomore season of Succession fans of the show were quick to question whether a show that strong could easily maintain its near perfect storytelling. When the third season finally premiered last fall, it still had fans questioning where the show was going story-wise and if it was still as exciting as the season prior. However by the time the season concluded creator Jesse Armstrong had all of the skeptics backtracking with one of the most well-crafted, edge-of-your seats finales that didn’t require a lick of special effects or dragons to win over audiences.
Then the third season went on to an unprecedented winter awards season sweep taking home top prizes from SAG, WGA, PAG, and DGA. On top of that the drama made history after taking up all five slots at the DGA awards leaving no extra room for any other contender. A drama hasn’t steamrolled through the guild season like that since the final season of Breaking Bad and we all know how that panned out at the Emmys.
Somehow the already immensely popular Emmy favorite went on to rake in even more Emmy nominations this year with 25 nominations (six more than its 18-nomination total in 2020). The ensemble took over almost every acting category and even more surprisingly was a favorite among the crafts (something that doesn’t happen for many workplace dramas). Numbers like that are pretty straight forward; voters cannot get enough of the Roy family.
Jesse Armstrong has seemingly perfected the winning combination of prestige television and unquestionably entertaining family dynamics. No other show on TV is quickly compared to a Shakespearean drama while also capitalizing on a storyline focused around accidentally sending your dick pic to your father. And that perfectly encapsulates why the Roy family is easily on their way to their second win for Outstanding Drama Series.
The other factor helping Succession this year is the fact that that there isn’t a clear alternative choice. Without a doubt this is one of the strongest lineups the drama series race has ever seen one with plenty of worthy winners that span debuts to final seasons and prestige dramas to fan-favorite genre shows. However with so many alternatives they all risk splitting the vote amongst themselves while a show like Succession has an established fan base within the Television Academy. Still the other nominees have plenty of support both for drama series and in many of the other races as well and there is a chance we might be underestimating just how popular they’ve become.
There will be voters who feel compelled to vote for the final seasons of their favorite dramas. Ozark has been a sleeper hit for years at Netflix and its fans will certainly want to give the final season a proper sendoff. Then there’s Better Call Saul which although is technically on the ballot for its penultimate season will no doubt benefit from its series finale airing right as voters were getting ready to fill out their ballots.
This has also been an incredible year for new exciting shows that will inspire plenty of voters to want to reward something new but they have too many directions to go in. Fresh off of their Oscar win Apple is hoping to continue that winning streak with Severance. The workplace sci-fi mystery had audiences on the edge of their seat and desperate for a second season. And at the end of 2021 Showtime premiered one of the most unlikely Emmy contenders in recent memory with Ýellowjackets. A Lord of the Flies-esque mystery with one of the best ensembles of the year and career-defining roles for some of our must underutilized actresses working today.
The new drama with the best chance of pulling off an upset this year is none other than Netflix’s Squid Game. The dystopian drama became an international sensation breaking Netflix streaming records then going on to be a force at the Emmys like no other non-English language show has done in the past. This would be a groundbreaking win at the Emmys and one that could change what American networks look at as “bankable” – and Emmy voters are well aware of that.
This year there were also two past Emmy favorites that stormed back into the conversation dominating pop culture for months at a time. The second season of Euphoria entered mainstream culture creating endless watercooler moments and online memes that are still being circulated months later all the while producing a clear auteur vision and some of the best performances on television.
Three years later Stranger Things has finally returned and it seems to be stronger than ever. It instantly broke streaming records and audiences couldn’t get enough of these characters and actors they’ve literally watched grow up in front of their eyes. There’s also the recency bias that will surely help it win over voters as millions of fans were still buzzing over the explosive finale as ballots were being filled out. It’s by far the most comforting show and sometimes that’s enough to win over votes.
The Final Word
Overall, this is by far one of the best drama series lineups in recent memory. Just about every one of this year’s nominees is worthy of a win both in terms of artistic merit and cultural influence. With so many options to choose from it makes it even easier for Emmy voters to resort back to what they know best which makes another Succession win even more likely. There’s a compelling argument to make that Succession has dominated the awards conversation for so long and people are ready for something new. However it’s only won the top prize once before and as voters are catching up with the show there’s no real indicator that fatigue has set in. So why bet against the most nominated drama of the year, especially one that is fresh off of a very rare guild sweep?
Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul
Squid Game – Dark Horse
Succession – Predicted Winner
Readers, what are your predictions for this year’s Outstanding Drama Series race at this year’s Emmys? Will Succession pull off another win or are we underestimating one of the other nominees?