Emmys 2016: Sorting Out the Drama Categories

After winning both the Golden Globe, and the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Drama Series, the USA Network’s Mr. Robot will be hoping to break into the Emmys for it’s debut season.

With new shows dominating the precursors, and some Emmy favourites ending, the Drama categories at this year’s Emmys are as wide open as ever. While it may not be as exciting as this year’s limited series, and, to a certain extent, comedy series races, the Drama categories are still considered as the most prestigious categories to win, and it is sure to be as exciting as ever.

Outstanding Drama Series

Game of Thrones will be hoping to make it two in a row in Best Drama Series, after the show’s victory last year.

With 6 of the 7 series nominated in this category returning for this year’s Emmys, with only Mad Men dropping out after ending last year, it’s looking like it’s pretty straightforward to predict which shows will get in. What is not in any doubt is that HBO’s Game of Thrones will win it’s second consecutive Emmy in this category, as it has gone from strength to strength, and gained a lot of buzz since its first win here last year. As for the other contenders, Netflix’s House of Cards, AMC’s Better Call Saul, and PBS’ Downton Abbey are pretty much locks for nominations, as all 3 shows have been nominated here every previous time they have been eligible. Likely joining them is USA’s hit new series Mr. Robot, which has picked up awards at almost every precursor: it looks like the show most likely to replace Mad Men as a stalwart in this category. With the final two slots, the safe money is on Showtime’s Homeland, and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black returning. However, with mixed reviews for both’s shows eligible seasons, there is some wriggle room. That being said, I don’t think there are any shows out there that can displace them, though Vinyl, Billions, The Americans, and Bloodline will all be looking to sneak in.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Kevin Spacey will be hoping to win his first Emmy for his portrayal of Frank Underwood on Netflix’s House of Cards.

Probably the most interesting category of the bunch, Lead Actor could really go anywhere, as we are guaranteed a brand new winner with both Jon Hamm (Mad Men), and Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom), not returning for this year. That would seemingly pave the way for Kevin Spacey to finally win for his already iconic performance as Frank Underwood on House of Cards, especially after his SAG win back in January. However, he does have strong competition, including Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul, and Critics’ Choice winner Rami Malek for Mr. Robot, who are also looking for their first Emmys. All 3 are locks to get in. Then we have 3 slots that are up for grabs. Liev Schreiber and Kyle Chandler are both in seemingly strong contenders to get in as they got in last year for Ray Donovan, and Bloodline, respectively. That leaves one empty slot which looks like it’s between two new contenders: Paul Giamatti for Billions, and Bobby Cannavale for Vinyl. I’m giving Giamatti the edge for now, despite his internal competition with Damian Lewis, due to the show’s reputation being better, but you can never count out Cannavale, who has already won Emmys for both Boardwalk Empire, and Nurse Jackie.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Reigning champ Viola Davis is looking to win her second Emmy for ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder.

A rare instance of having 11 previous nominees in this category eligible to return, Lead Drama Actress is a category packed with talent. Viola Davis the clear frontrunner following her win last year, but she is by no means a lock. If Kevin Spacey wins Lead Actor, voters may be looking to award Robin Wright as well for House of Cards, though she has had better chances to win in the past. Those two, I believe are the only ones safe (remember, last year only 2 of the previous year’s nominees returned, despite all 6 being eligible). Former winner Claire Danes should get in for Homeland, while double winner Julianna Margulies will be hoping to return for the final season of The Good Wife, following her snub last year. Despite the massive decline in buzz for Empire, Taraji P. Henson should have enough buzz the get in, proven by her Golden Globe win in January, and the final slot is probably between to contenders: last year’s surprise nominee Tatiana Maslany for Orphan Black, and former Emmy favourite Michelle Dockery for Downton Abbey. The safe bet would be Maslany, but I’m sticking my neck out by going for Dockery, as I see Downton’s final season getting a heap of nominations, and seeing her snub last year as a fluke, seeing as she got in all 3 years prior. Hoping to return will be former nominees Kerry Washington (Scandal), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex),  Vera Farmiga (Bates Hotel), and Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU), but all 4 shows have seen their buzz go rather stale. I think it’s between the top 7.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Jonathan Banks will want to avenge his shock defeat last year to Peter Dinklage by winning this year for his performance in AMC’s Better Call Saul.

The only Drama acting category that sees all 6 of it’s nominees last year eligible to return, it therefore is tricky for new contenders to break through. As for the victory, the likely answer would be two-time winner Peter Dinklage for Game of Thrones, who managed to win last year despite comparatively lackluster material. Hot on his toes is last year’s frontrunner, who surprisingly lost to Dinklage, Jonathan Banks for Better Call Saul. However, those who have watched the second season of Better Call Saul have said that he isn’t as impressive as last year, so will likely just get the nomination, and not the win. A more likely contender to win will probably be Christian Slater for Mr. Robot, a role that has already won him a Golden Globe, and a Critics’ Choice Award. As for the remaining slots, Jim Carter always gets in, so he’ll make it. Alan Cumming should get in for the final season of The Good Wife after breaking back in last year, while Michael Kelly will likely complete the line-up for House of Cards. That means the returning nominee that will likely miss out will be Ben Mendelsohn for Bloodline, mainly due to him having a lot less material in the second season compared to the first, where he was essentially a co-lead. Also fighting for a nomination are Ray Romano for Vinyl, and Michael McKean (Better Call Saul), as well as previous nominees Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), and Jon Voight (Ray Donovan).

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Christine Baranski has been nominated 6 times in this category for The Good Wife- will she finally win this year for the show’s final season?

Perhaps the easiest to call on paper, Supporting Actress is looking like a pretty straightforward category to call in getting it down to 6 nominees, but is very tricky in determining the winner. The obvious answer to win would be Uzo Aduba, who has won Emmys for two years in a row for Orange is the New Black, in 2014 in Comedy Guest Actress, and last year in Drama Supporting Actress. The question is: are voters tired of her? That is why I have reservations in picking her to win, and I am instead predicting Christine Baranski to finally win, after 6 nominations, for The Good Wife, in a similar fashion to Jon Hamm in Drama Lead Actor last year for Mad Men. Both are certainties to be nominated, as are, most likely, the Game of Thrones duo Lena Headey, and Emilia Clarke, who both have two nominations apiece. Then, filling the last two slots, will probably be the Downton Abbey duo of Joanne Froggatt, and former winner Maggie Smith, the latter of which shockingly missed out last year, despite being the frontrunner leading up to the nominations. It’s tricky to say who else in the hunt for a nomination, as there are no other contenders that have been nominated before, but I personally wouldn’t discount Margo Martindale (The Good Wife), Sissy Spacek (Bloodline), recent Golden Globe winner Maura Tierney (The Affair), or Critics’ Choice winner Constance Zimmer (UnReal).

The Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday 14th July 2016.

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