Sunday, September 16, 2018

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Drama Series

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. Submitted episode titles are in parentheses. Beware of major spoilers for listed episodes.

Dead Hand,” “The Great Patriotic War,” “Harvest,” “The Summit,” “Jennings, Elizabeth,” “START

FX’s beloved Russian spy drama made the cut two years ago for its fourth season and now returns for its sixth and final year. Its four-nomination haul doesn’t appear to make it much of a threat to win, but there are fans who would love to see it rewarded. Its episodes aren’t bad, and the show grew on me as it went on even if I’m still not overly fond of it. I compare its situation to “Friday Night Lights,” a show that took home a best actor prize and a writing trophy in its final year but still couldn’t make the cut here because Emmy voters just didn’t go nuts for it.

Beryl,” “Marionettes,” “Matrimonium,” “Dear Mrs. Kennedy,” “Paterfamilias,” “Mystery Man

This is the second consecutive nomination for this show and the last for its current cast since it’s jumping forward in history a couple decades for season three. This show scored three wins last year out of thirteen nominations, the same total it contends for this year. These submitted episodes, representing the second season as a whole, really do underline the show’s title as its feature, not just its primary protagonist. I wasn’t quite as taken with the first, Margaret-centric episode, but the rest are all very solid, including the last three episodes of the season that feature a visit by JFK and his wife, a revelation about Philip, and everything coming to a head in the finale. This show doesn’t have the momentum it could have had last year to win, but it’s sure to get some votes, especially for the way in which it presents its events.

Stormborn,” “The Queen’s Justice,” “The Spoils of War,” “Eastwatch,” “Beyond the Wall,” “The Dragon and the Wolf

It’s not too hard to pick six episodes when you air only seven in a season. The premiere is actually the one that wasn’t submitted, but fortunately the other six are all superb, with the sixth, “Beyond the Wall,” which is up for its direction, is my favorite, and the season finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” seems to be the most popular, picking up bids for both directing and writing. It’s the most-nominated program this year and took home the most awards the last two years it contended, when it also won Best Drama Series. It’s just a question of whether it can eclipse last year’s winner…

June,” “Unwomen,” “Baggage,” “After,” “Smart Power,” “The Last Ceremony

Last year’s winner in this category is up from thirteen nominations last year to a staggering twenty this year, all the more impressive because just a few of them are for technical citations. The best episode of season two, its finale, wasn’t eligible because it debuted in July, but this lineup is still superb, with a few standout episodes left off due to the strength of the season as a whole. They’re disturbing and tough to watch, but that’s part of what makes this show so incredible. It will just have to take down HBO’s returning juggernaut and FX’s fan favorite, but I still think it can win.

MADMAX,” “Trick or Treat, Freak,” “Will the Wise,” “The Spy,” “The Mind Flayer,” “The Gate

This show returns for its second consecutive nomination, down from nineteen nominations last year to twelve this time around. I personally preferred year two, though I think voters won’t be paying any attention to this show, which they barely acknowledged last year, giving it five technical trophies. Its submitted episodes are all strong, wisely omitting the seventh chapter that many didn’t like. This represents well the quality this show has to offer, but again, if this show was going to win, it would have been last year when it was riding a high that’s decreased considerably, especially with the delay of season three until 2019.

A Father’s Advice,” “Number One,” “The Fifth Wheel,” “Super Bowl Sunday,” “The Car,” “The Wedding

One of the most beloved shows on television is back with a nomination for its second season, which wasn’t nominated nearly as much this year. Half of these episodes are strong – one that really gets to who Kevin is and why he’s always felt like the fifth wheel, the impactful super-sized Super Bowl episode, and the one after that which traced Jack’s legacy through his purchase of a new car. Of three back-to-back episodes focusing on each child, Number One’s spotlight was the weakest, and neither the season premiere or the season finale impressed me much since they both employed typical manipulative tendencies of this show to drop a huge bombshell clue that takes away from the overall effectiveness of the hour. This show might have won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble in a Best Drama Series, but its chances to win here are slim.

Journey Into Night,” “The Riddle of the Sphinx,” “Akane No Mai,” “Kiksuya,” “Vanishing Point,” “The Passenger

What we have here is a controversial show that scored five technical wins out of twenty-two total nominations last year and earned a staggering twenty-one nominations this year. I don’t think it’s nearly as well-regarded as it was at first, and the fact that it won pretty much nothing last year suggests that its chances here are extremely limited. The season premiere gets things started, two middle episodes really reframe everything, and the last three take the action to a whole new level. I had somewhat mixed feelings about the two most memorable episodes here, “Akane No Mai,” which took place mostly in Shogun World, and the finale, “The Passenger,” which changed the game entirely. I’m a big fan of this show but I’ll admit season two had some problems. It’s far too divisive to win.

What should win (based on entire season):The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Game of Thrones,” or “Stranger Things
What should win (based on individual episodes):The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Game of Thrones,” or “Stranger Things
What will win: It’s a tight race between two-time champion “Game of Thrones” and the show that won in its absence last year, The Handmaid’s Tale. Watch out for “The Americans” to upset, but I think it will be one of those two.

Next up: Best Comedy Series

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