My Picks For Best Drama
For years, I have been constantly frustrated whenever it becomes time to try and predict this years Emmys. Part of the problem has been there are — frankly — far too many great TV shows on the air, and Emmy voters consistently seem to be stuck in old habits and locked on certain predicates.
However, over the last two seasons, there has been considerable reason for hope. Several series and actors that have been consistently ignored were nominated last season, and while I wasn’t satisfied with many of the greater triumphs, many of the individual winners pleased me greatly. And considering that several of the series that have dominated these categories for the last three seasons are either off the air (adieu, Downton Abbey) or not eligible this season (ta-ta Game of Thrones) there is a very real possibility that some great series that would otherwise fall through the cracks will be recognized.
Admittedly, one can’t tell how the eligibility rules will deal with certain show released on the cusp of eligibility. Will House of Cards and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, released only in the last few weeks be able to grab spots ahead other acclaimed Netflix series that premiered in the fall of 2016? Will Twin Peaks be considered this season or next season? Does it deserve to be? And how the hell will we figure out the contenders for Best Actress in a TV Movie or Limited Series? I’m not sure, and remember I don’t watch everything on the air. Nevertheless, I will give my due diligence, and make my best predictions.
Let us begin, as always, with Best Drama
The Americans (FX)
For once, I am hoping that the Emmys laziness when it comes to nominating series that got picked the year before will work in this series favor. Its six nominations last seasons were among the great pleasures of last year, and while it wasn’t quite as good it was last year, watching the general darkness that seems to be following all are characters in both America and the Soviet Union has been one of the more fascinating slow burns that I’ve ever seen, particularly when it came to the Jennings’ growing dissatisfaction with their lot. It was nice to get nominated, now I want them to win. Time is running out — for the Soviet Union and the series.
Better Call Saul (AMC)
It’s still not as good as Breaking Bad, but few series were or are, and with each successive year as the ‘mythology of the show opens a little more (hello Gus Fring! Hi Lydia), it becomes arguably the best origin series in the history of the medium. But as wonderful as seeing each of the Easter eggs linking back into the world of Albuquerque, by far the most fascinating thing about this series is the degrading relationship between the McGill brothers (each of whom deserves a nomination of his own), and how much Jimmy continues to embrace his destiny with each succeeding season. This is become a masterpiece in its own right, and even though, like Americans, you know how it will end, you can not look away.
The Crown (Netflix)
Forget House of Cards. This is the Netflix series within the corridors of power. As I said in an earlier review, Peter Morgan has always been good at taking a look at the world behind the monarchy, but perhaps his greatest accomplishment in this series has come in taking these people we have almost come to see as caricatures and turned them into flesh and blood, living creatures. It’s already received awards from the Golden Globes and the SAG awards. The Emmy nominations it will receive can’t be far behind, perhaps from those who see this as a Downton Abbey substitute. Trust me. This is better.
The Good Fight (CBS Access)
This may be my most controversial choice, not merely because it is broadcast on a service that most Emmy voters may not have been able to find. But the fact remains this is more than a sequel to The Good Wife, although that alone should be enough to push it into Emmy viewers sightlines (God knows it wasn’t for the last five years it was on the air) But the acting, writing, and stories are at least as good as they were on the original series, and there are even more interesting characters then before. Oh, and there’s sex and profanity now. Do you think now you’ll be willing to give them some Emmy love?
Mr. Robot (USA)
I am well aware that average Emmy voter, looking for new sci-fi, may very well turn their attention to the shiny and new Westworld, and I realize that there has to be some codicil in the Emmy bylaws that HBO will have a nominee. (I’d rather it be The Leftovers, but its clear by now that’s its just not going to make it). But the second season of the USA cyber-thriller was even more twisted than the first, as the world reeled from the 5/9 hack, Eliot went on an even more twisted journey that last year, and we got even more interesting characters than before (Hello, Grace Gummer). Throw some of the most audacious teasers since Breaking Bad in its prime, and you have a series that defied the sophomore slump.
Stranger Things (Netflix)
Now, here’s a series that should be watched by everyone. A dark thriller dealing with monster. A story about friendship growing up in the 80s. An homage to Spielberg and Stephen King. And some of the greatest child actor performers TV has ever seen. This is arguably the biggest sensation on TV in quite some time. And if the SAG awards and MTV both consider it the best series on TV, its going to be very hard for me to argue. This is the Netflix phenomenon that should be considered, not Orange is the New Black.
This is Us (NBC)
Its been five years since a network series has been nominated for Best Drama. (Though God knows that’s not entirely Network TV’s fault) But now comes a series that defies all the rules of what great TV should be on a network show. No antiheroes. No violence or profanity. Just the story of a family that brings huge laughs and will start even the most stoic viewer crying. Critics and audiences worship this show. Emmy voters, if you blow it this time, there will be blood. Especially since it will mean MTV and the People’s Choice Awards are more relevant than you.