Emmy Predictions: Best Drama Series – Final Voting Opens With ‘The Crown’ Out Front and ‘The Mandalorian’ Close Behind

·11-min read

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Emmys ceremonies from film awards editor Clayton Davis. Following history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Emmy predictions are updated regularly with the current year's list of contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. The eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and is subject to change.

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UPDATED: Aug 19, 2021

AWARDS PREDICTION COMMENTARY: One of the top two nomination leaders with 24, the 73rd Emmy Awards looks primed to become the year Netflix and “The Crown” walked away with the top drama prizes, which would mark the first for the streamer. The fourth season moved beyond the focus on Queen Elizabeth II and covered the period between 1979 and 1990, particularly Princess Diana’s introduction into the royal family.

The all-star program has received multiple accolades, including the Producers Guild of America drama series prize and cast ensemble at SAG Awards. Despite minimal hiccups such as losing BAFTA TV (which, considering who it’s covering, shouldn’t be surprising), it would be surprising to see it lose out in the end. There’s also a possible chance the show will become the second-ever and first in drama to sweep all seven major awards. “Schitt’s Creek” became the first in 2020 in comedy.

Netflix has chosen “Balmoral Test,” “Fairytale,” “Favourites,” “Terra Nullius,” “The Hereditary Principle” and “War” for its submission.

The next chapter in “The Mandalorian” saga from Disney Plus lands with a co-leading 24 nomination tally. The second season received raves from critics and viewers and seen by its impressive and surprising seven Emmy haul for the first season, this may no longer be a question of “if” but rather “when” will the space drama win the big prize?

Garnering nine more noms than last year, with double mentions for writing and three for acting, one of which, Giancarlo Esposito, has an excellent chance of winning, the Creative Arts could be a strong indicator for what can happen on Sept. 19—along with “WandaVision” in limited series, winning two out of the three top series categories ain’t a bad day at the TV Academy.

Wisely, the streaming service has put up the episodes “The Marshal,” “The Heiress,” “The Jedi,” “The Tragedy,” “The Believer” and “The Rescue” to secure its final Emmy votes.

The awards campaign for Amazon Prime Video’s “The Boys,” the satirical superhero series, is a shining example of what can be achieved with the right strategy. After the first season mustered a single nom for sound editing, the action show’s second set of eight episodes is walking in with five total nominations, including drama series and writing for the season finale. The second season’s reviews were also considerably more robust, with many more viewers discovering it during the pandemic.

With its refreshing and complex examination of its characters, this non-typical superhero fare has elements that attract the taste of casual viewers, which awards shows should be angling to achieve, especially given the weight of its narrative and craftsmanship.

The six episodes submitted include the season two premiere episode “The Big Ride,” along with “Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men,” “We Gotta Go Now,” “The Bloody Doors Off,” “Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker” and “What I Know.”

<img class="wp-image-1235038391 size-vertical" src="https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/The-Mandalorian-1.jpg?w=1024&quot; alt="" width="1024" height="576" srcset="https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/The-Mandalorian-1.jpg 3840w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/The-Mandalorian-1.jpg?resize=150,84 150w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/The-Mandalorian-1.jpg?resize=300,169 300w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/The-Mandalorian-1.jpg?resize=125,70 125w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/The-Mandalorian-1.jpg?resize=681,383 681w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/The-Mandalorian-1.jpg?resize=450,253 450w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/The-Mandalorian-1.jpg?resize=250,140 250w" sizes="(min-width: 87.5rem) 1000px, (min-width: 78.75rem) 681px, (min-width: 48rem) 450px, (max-width: 48rem) 250px" />

The first season of HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” was widely loved by those who gave it the time, leaving multiple unanswered questions for season two, which now will never come due to cancellation. Hauling an impressive 18 nominations, it became the first drama series (along with “Pose”) to have its two Black lead actors nominated and the first series to have each of its actors nominated in all major acting categories. Of course, it helps that it stands a good chance at winning for Michael K. Williams in supporting actor drama.

Suppose the cancellation triggered a wave of support for the show, both to shame HBO and give it gas to get picked up by another network. In that case, we could witness a defining moment at the Emmys, where a first season canceled show walks away with the top prize, which has never happened prior.

For the canceled series, HBO has opted to submit the episodes “Sundown,” “Holy Ghost,” “Meet Me in Daegu,” “I Am.,” ”Jig-a-Bobo” and “Rewind 1921.”

The only previous drama Emmy winner, Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” pulled in an impressive 21 nominations, fourth-most overall for nominated shows this year. Having the distinction of being the first streamer ever to win the top Emmy Award in any category has been kind to it, landing impressively in all of its outings, even in split season years.

Hauling in 10 of its actors for Emmy love, except for the snubbed Joseph Fiennes, was no easy feat, and all that love from the acting branches could translate somewhere, and where better yet than in drama series.

The Hulu series has submitted the following episodes for the final round of voting – “The Crossing,” “Vows,” “Home,” “Testimony,” “Progress,” “The Wilderness.”

With the help of star Regé-Jean Page, the freshman series “Bridgerton” from Netflix was a cultural phenomenon during the pandemic. Another example of a series that transcended from just critics to general TV binge-watchers offers another massive hit for the Emmy nominated executive producer Shonda Rhimes, who received her fourth career mention, 14 years after her last for the third season of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The artisans and crafts had much to do with its impressive 12 Emmy nomination tally, including deserved noms for Kris Bowers’ music and composition and main title theme music.

The six episodes submitted for the phase two Emmy voting period are “Diamond of the First Water,” “Shock and Delight,” “Art of the Swoon,” “An Affair of Honor,” “The Duke and I” and “Swish.”

Making it five-in-a-row and the only broadcast representation in the category, NBC’s “This Is Us” lands six nominations, one more than in 2020. As it gears up for its sixth and final season, the narrative begins by rewarding the heartwarming series that’s given the Pearson family a place in our television lives.

The Dan Fogelman created drama had an emotional 16-episode season where a shocking wedding finale sets up an upcoming season that could bring us through the emotional ringer. Is this drama nomination a precursor for that run, or should it just be happy to be here? It is important to note that despite its consecutive drama noms, it never received mentions for writing or directing, which are critical to winning the big award. Things will need to change next year if it hopes to get one before walking away.

For its penultimate season, NBC has put forward the episodes “Forty: Part 1,” “Forty: Part 2,” “Birth Mother,” “In the Room,” “Brotherly Love” and “The Adirondacks” to garner votes for final ballots.

After missing a drama series nomination for its second season, FX’s “Pose” returns for its third and final season and an impressive eight mention tally, the most in the show’s history. It was also making history for Mj Rodriguez as the first transgender performer to be nominated in major acting categories. Along with her co-star Billy Porter, they became the first Black actor and actress nominated from the same drama series (along with fellow nominees Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett from “Lovecraft Country”). So, as we bid farewell to the Ryan Murphy production, how many Television Academy members will be willing to check it off for its final bow?

For its final season, FX has submitted the episodes “On the Run,” “The Trunk,” “Take Me to Church,” “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” “Something Old, Something New” and “Series Finale” for Emmy final voting.

The viewing platform for Emmy nominees opens on Aug. 13, with final-round voting, beginning on Aug. 19 at 9:00 am PT until Aug. 30 at 10:00 pm PT.

Check out the full rankings of the category’s nominees in the chart below.


<img class="size-vertical wp-image-1234878534" src="https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Lovecraft-Country.jpg?w=1000&quot; alt="Lovecraft Country.Season 1 – Episode 2 .Jurnee Smollett, Jonathan Majors, Courtney B. Vance
credit: Eli Joshua Ade/HBO - Credit: Courtesy of Eli Joshua Ade/HBO" width="1000" height="563" srcset="https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Lovecraft-Country.jpg 1000w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Lovecraft-Country.jpg?resize=150,84 150w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Lovecraft-Country.jpg?resize=300,169 300w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Lovecraft-Country.jpg?resize=125,70 125w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Lovecraft-Country.jpg?resize=681,383 681w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Lovecraft-Country.jpg?resize=450,253 450w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Lovecraft-Country.jpg?resize=250,140 250w" sizes="(min-width: 87.5rem) 1000px, (min-width: 78.75rem) 681px, (min-width: 48rem) 450px, (max-width: 48rem) 250px" />Courtesy of Eli Joshua Ade/HBO


The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known simply as the Emmys, is television's most prestigious artistic award. There are many records held for both wins and nominations in the near eight decades.

For wins: HBO's "Game of Thrones" holds the record for most wins for a series in a single year with 12 (in 2015, 2016 and 2019), most collective wins for a drama series with 59 (across eight seasons), most wins for a single episode with six (for "Battle of the Bastards" in 2016) and most wins for a series and drama series in its final season with 12 (in 2019). "Game of Thrones" is also tied for most wins for outstanding drama series with four - along with "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law," "Mad Men" and "The West Wing." "Hillstreet Blues," "Mad Men" and "The West Wing" won their four awards consecutively. "The West Wing" also holds the record for most wins in its first season with nine, while it shares the record for most wins for acting across an entire drama series at nine, along with "Breaking Bad" and "The Sopranos."

There are four shows that have won this category three times - "The Defenders," "Dragnet," "Playhouse 90," which all won consecutively, and "Upstairs, Downstairs."

For nominations: "Game of Thrones" holds the record for most nominations overall for an entire drama series with 161. It also holds the most nominations for a drama series in a single year and its final season with 32 (2019). AMC's "Mad Men" holds the record for the most nominations without a win in a single year, going zero for 17 (in 2012). "NYPD Blue" holds the record for most nominations in its first season at 27 (in 1994), while "Law & Order" has the record for most nominations ever for an entire drama series at 11.

For networks, NBC has the most wins in this category with 21 with CBS following with 18. Hulu is the first and only streaming service to win this category with "The Handmaid's Tale" (in 2017).

2021 Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

About the Primetime Emmy Awards (Emmys)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known as the Emmys, is given out by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Since 1949, the awards recognize excellence in American primetime television programming. They are divided into three classes - Primetime Emmy Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (honors artisan achievements) and the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards (recognizes significant engineering and technological contributions). The typical eligibility period is between June 1 and May 31 of any given year. The Television Academy comprises over 25,000 members, representing 30 professional peer groups, including performers, directors, producers, art directors and various artisans and executives.

  • The 73rd Emmy Awards are scheduled to air on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8:00 pm est on CBS and on-demand on sister streamer Paramount Plus.

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