EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article has been modified to reflect the final winners of Emmy Awards.
In the words of the great Michael Scott, “how the turntables..” Well, what everybody probably least expected has happened, and the makers of one of the most watched shows on the planet managed to royally screw up the eighth and final season. Each and every single critic over the internet predicted ‘Game of Thrones’ to be mammoth, in terms of both numbers and awards, and while the former didn’t dwindle, the latter sure loks like it might. We will still reserve that judgment for the last bit of this writeup.
From Starbucks cups to plot inconsistencies, to poorly received fan reactions and to the grand finale for everything sitting at an abysmal 4.3 on IMDb, the final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ has been in the news notoriously high and for all the wrong reasons. Well, this should surely make things interesting, now that the other shows supposedly have a clearer shot at the title. As a fan, it aches me to say that they do, deservedly so. However, for some reason that evades my senses, even despite its debacle, ‘Game of Thrones’ is still in the top bidding for the Best Drama Series according to several critics, the palpable reasons for which we will discuss soon.
With the GoT debacle, there are indeed no obvious winners this year, even after a number of great shows that have been announced and are upcoming not eligible for the race, including ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘The Crown’, ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Big Little Lies’ and ‘Homeland’ among others, that released just after June 1 this year, making them ineligible for the Emmy awards that air in September later this year. For now, predicting the winner should be fun now that new avenues have opened up and a record number of shows have crossed into the nominations. Read on to find what show I think is the strongest contender for Outstanding Drama Series at Emmys 2019.
Should Have Been Nominated
Julia Roberts’ maiden television series, ‘Homecoming‘, earned a lot of nominations this year at mostly all major award functions, including the Golden Globes and the Critic’s Choice, most of them for best show and best actress for Roberts, notably winning the Satellite awards. While watching the show personally was a mixed bag of thoughts for me, it had the critics solidly backing it, but what really hurt its chances at a nomination, apart from the obviously tough competition is the thirty minute runtime ruse that the Academy wasn’t anyway comfortable with. The show has been renewed for a second season due for airing on prime this fall.
While HBO’s top contender may increasingly find the prize drifting away from it every day, its other series that aired just as the Emmys qualifying time began from June 1st last year, ‘Succession’ proved to be a balm for subscribers of the premium channel and streaming service. The key strength of ‘Succession’ lies in giving us characters that are completely and utterly unlikeable, and letting them, well, stay that way. There is some well written and genuinely funny situational humour for those who prefer it, and I completely expected the show to score in both the drama shows category as well as the new shows category. The series has currently been renewed for a second season due this year, but I don’t suspect it will be within the first half of the year, leaving us only Season 1 as a potential candidate. Winning, however, seems like an increasingly difficult ballgame as of now, and ‘Succession’ thus finds itself at the bottom rung of this ladder for me.
I would typically have skipped including ‘Bodyguard’ from my list of nominees for Best Drama Series earlier, but the show’s big wins at the Globes last year, especially for Richard Madden seriously added to its credit, and a nomination came in easy. It is inherently a star making turn for him, and he is actually great in it. The idea behind the show is something that we have all seen before, about the central character being torn between duty and morals, and some questionable choices along the way. It is the pacing that takes the cake for this show, and with it some, really well performed action sequences. Contrary to a lot of other shows out there though, its finale ironically managed to bring down the impact and overall quality of the show, but as a whole, it is one of the most entertaining shows on this list, also possibly being among the ones with the most mass appeal. That is not necessarily a bad thing per se, but its chances of winning sure hang in the balance with strong contenders further down the list.
The first season of ‘Ozark’ wasn’t particularly a homerun, and neither was its second. In that, the first season landed quite a few nominations, but ended up winning unremarkably few of them. I expect the second season of the show to do exactly the same. ‘Ozark’ returned for a second season this year following a tense, atmospheric first season with several loose ends, and I for one felt that the show was able to live up to the hype, even surpassing it at some rare points, especially the finale. However, as far as awards are concerned, while another nomination for Bateman as outstanding actor and for Laura Linney as his counterpart are already in the kitty, its place in the Best Drama Series contenders’ pantheon too is cemented, and that’s that.
‘Pose’s chances at the Emmys seriously shot up when it ended up scoring rather well-deserved nominations for Best Drama series at the Golden Globes last year, and a nod for best actor for Billy Porter as well. Not only did the show gain approval from the mainstream mature audiences for its portrayal and inclusivity of LGBT characters, assembling the largest cast of LGBT actors and actresses for its star ensemble, it was also lauded for its spectacular production design and setting of 1980s New York, focussing on the development of the luxury lifestyle and the troubles the community had to go through during the Reagan era. It’s all really well done and has a great message of inclusivity and love for all at the centre of it. Given these factors, ‘Pose’ may most likely not stop on just a nomination, but be a serious possible frontrunner too.
4. This is Us
‘This is Us’ holds the rare distinction of a consistently engaging drama series that has managed to strike up my emotional core. The show rounded up the run for its third season earlier this year, and while the makers have acknowledged that the show’s tone has gotten increasingly tragic over the seasons, it still is arguably one of the best shows out there, despite a comparatively weaker third season. Another show where the nomination was guaranteed from the beginning, while the prize too may seem in sight after the eagle failed to soar too high.
3. Killing Eve
The current frontrunner in the race according to me after GoT bowed out, the new season premiered recently, and with virtually the same momentum as the first season that also won big, I am predicting this season too to shake a few hedges this year. What also works in the favour of the show is that like ‘Bodyguard’, ‘Killing Eve’ too got awarded for its performances, with Sandra Oh bagging both the Golden Globe and the SAG. Not that it’s a mediocre show in any way to begin with, but her wins sure put ‘Killing Eve’ on the radar and in an overall positive light. Oh’s and Comer’s performances, both of who will be squaring off against each other for a go at the Best Actress in a Drama Category, and the cat and mouse drama sure brought back more of the same fun from season 1, and following another stellar follow-up season, it will stil be in the front-running when it comes to taking the trophy home.
2. Better Call Saul
If there is ever a prequel or spinoff show, this is how you do it. No questions asked. ‘Better Call Saul’ has managed to consistently maintain the same level of intelligent writing over its four seasons, and with the same minds as ‘Breaking Bad’ working on the show, one can be assured that it won’t falter in the upcoming season(s) either. The fourth season of ‘Better Call Saul’ was just as tastefully done as the previous three, and with a host of returning characters, the show draws closer to where Saul’s story amalgamates into the ‘Breaking Bad’ storyline. The finale of the season, ‘Winner’, in particular was one hell of a ride, and while the show didn’t have absolutely any troubles in landing a nomination, in my opinion, it comes down to this and the final contender in the list for who will finally lift the trophy.
1. Game of Thrones
If this, or the win this show is looking to secure (yes, you read that right. A win!) doesn’t baffle you, I hardly know anything else that will. To be honest, despite the relative (or absolute) debacle that season 8 was, ruling out a nomination was never on the charts, quite simply. Despite countless fans feeling cheated after the underwhelming finale, and well, virtually seven seasons of buildup leading up to unsatisfying conclusions, even for beloved characters, there are few shows that can manage the scope and execution of ‘Game of Thrones‘. Even the naysayers would agree that the show is technically practically spotless, except the Starbucks cup and the water bottle ofcourse. From no. 1 contender of the year to shocker of the year, it’s been a pretty steep downhill journey for ‘Game of Thrones‘. However, then again, as is the very nature of the show, it managed to sneak in one last surprise before its final farewell by scoring massively at the Emmys this year. If that is any indication at all, the HBO medieval fantasy epic, also the defending champion from last year, isn’t completely done scraping awards, possibly for other categories more probably than this one. While the other two shows listed above are far better in terms of storytelling, and that is what needed to be rewarded here, it will be tough to top a television show that topped the budgets of half the films Hollywood releases every year. Fan or not, you are clearly in for a mean surprise this year at the ceremony.
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