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Emmy Circuit: Can Anyone Stop ‘Game of Thrones’ From a Record Setting Night?

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Welcome to the 2019 Emmy Circuit series. We are now in the Emmy post-nomination phase, where we watch all the nominated Emmy episodes and predict their chances of winning. The Creative Arts Emmy winners will be revealed Saturday, Sept. 14, while the Primetime Emmy Awards airs on FOX Sunday, Sept. 22. Tune in week after week as we tackle all things Drama, Comedy, Limited Series and Variety.


Despite the cultural derision that surrounded the final season of “Game of Thrones,” there was no stopping its dominance with the Television Academy. Thanks to a record-setting 32 nominations, including surprising nominations for Gwendoline Christie and Alfie Allen, the race in Drama Series feels like a foregone conclusion. While there are plenty of reasons to perceive weakness, “Thrones” will likely walk away with another Outstanding Drama Series prize. Despite the seeming inevitability of the night, Emmy and television viewers should still be excited about the incredible lineup in Outstanding Drama Series. “Pose” brings unseen stories of New York to life, “Killing Eve” features two women protagonists, and “This Is Us” brings a multicultural family to the small screen. Progress has been made in this category. Let’s look at our nominees to see which show can surprise with the greatest upset in Emmy history.


  • “Better Call Saul” (Season 4)
  • “Bodyguard” (Season 1)
  • “Game of Thrones” (Season 8)
  • “Killing Eve” (Season 2)
  • “Ozark” (Season 2)
  • “Pose” (Season 1)
  • “Succession” (Season 1)
  • “This Is Us” (Season 3)

Better Call Saul Season 4 BW Odenkirk

“Better Call Saul” (AMC) – Season 4

One of the most underrated shows on television today, “Better Call Saul” turned in another brilliant season. The “Breaking Bad” spin-off has fully emerged as its own its beast, mixing in more comedy with very well written character drama. Vince Gilligan and his writers have made Jimmy/Saul (Bob Odenkirk) one of the most dynamic television characters of the past decade. However, Mike (Jonathan Banks) and Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) are brilliant performers in their own write. A win for any of the three in an acting category would be well deserved. If Peter Dinklage loses to anyone, it would be Esposito because he could become the first African-American performer to win the category. If you see a few prizes going their way (winning writing, a sound, and an acting prize), “Saul” could quickly emerge as the biggest challenger for the top prize.

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“Bodyguard” (Netflix) – Season 1

A thrilling story with international appeal, “Bodyguard” surprised with the nomination for Outstanding Series. “Bodyguard” had series buzz for months, but after missing in directing and lead actor, it felt like the Academy had forgotten the espionage thriller. Richard Madden’s snub stings, especially given that he was left out in a year he could have won. Netflix will put more resources behind “Ozark,” especially after missing other big nominations for “Bodyguard,” which ultimately leaves it towards the bottom of the category. However, it’s a good thing they pushed the series into Drama because otherwise, it might have gone unrewarded in the competitive Limited Series field.

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“Game of Thrones” (HBO) – Season 8

The goliath comes into the night with a firm grip on the Outstanding Drama Series trophy. It will surprise general audiences, who seemed to despise the show. Yet the industry lifted the divisive season up. A win for “Thrones” should bode well for the medium in general. In fact, dozens of studios have been looking for their own epic genre tale to take up the mantle now that “Thrones” has exited. At the end of the day, the series proved hugely influential and advanced storytelling in the medium. This was a victory lap for David Beinoff, D.B. Weiss and HBO. With a record thirty-two nominations, the TV Academy will send this one out with the big prize. Doing so will also tie it with “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law,” “Mad Men,” and “The West Wing” for the most Drama Series wins by a single show.

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“Killing Eve” (BBC America) – Season 2

Despite rougher reviews in its second season, “Killing Eve” received a nice nomination boost. This likely has something to do with audiences catching up to the brilliant performances that bring the world to life. Sandra Oh stands a chance to win the prize in Actress, and Jodie Comer might be one of her strongest challengers. They make for a formidable duo and the show’s success largely rests on their shoulders. The nomination for Fiona Shaw also shows support, especially against the “Game of Thrones” sweep of the category. The drop in quality for stops the show from becoming a big contender, but expect “Killing Eve” to potentially grow again next season.

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“Ozark” (Netflix) – Season 2

The spiritual successor to “Breaking Bad” has ratcheted up the drama. While “Ozark” dips into melodrama at times, Jason Batemen, Julia Garner, and Laura Linney are favorites among the TV Academy. The extremely serious tone that “Ozark” employs actually helps separate it from the field as well. While each of the other shows borders on comedy (especially “Succession” and “Killing Eve”) there’s no question where this show belongs. With crime, death and violence still a favorite of the Academy, “Ozark” stands a chance as a spoiler. It also picked up some craft nominations while displaying strength in the guilds. “Ozark” has more fans than one might think, and a directing nomination for Bateman makes you wonder if he’s in line for a win somewhere.


“Pose” (FX) – Season 1

Aided by a very strong second season, “Pose” has the potential to make up ground in the race. Led by Billy Porter, the freshmen show from Ryan Murphy was an instant hit. In the months since nomination morning, fans of “Pose” have been effervescent in their praise. The question with “Pose” has never been the quality, but whether or not it would be seen. The lack of nominations outside of Porter on the acting side showed the TV Academy’s bias this year. With “Game of Thrones” out of the way next year, combined with a growing audience, “Pose” could find itself a top tier contender. Unfortunately, the lack of nominations this year will push it toward the middle of the pack.

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“Succession” (HBO) – Season 1

The Adam McKay and Will Ferrell produced drama about a billionaire family should not have worked. Yet showrunner Jesse Armstrong and his writer have not only put together an electric group of actors, but they’ve utilized “Veep-ish” dialogue to increase the stakes of each character’s journey. “Succession” might be the heir-apparent in the HBO stable for next year’s Emmys, but the freshman show’s actors got drowned out of the races by “Thrones,” leaving “Succession” without an acting nomination. The new season, currently on the air, generated buzz as one of the best shows on television. Some of that love boosts “Succession” this year, but sharing a network with “Thrones” leaves it lower on the ballot.

This Is Us

“This is Us” (NBC) – Season 3

The lone representative from the networks, “This Is Us” took a leap in Season 3. While some plotlines were divisive, namely Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown), the season pushed its characters into new circumstances. The storyline involving Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) in Vietnam created harrowing personal stakes for a character that many thought had been completely explored. It’s clear that Dan Fogelman found something special with this group of characters, and his writers found ways to keep it fresh this season. After being snubbed last year, Mandy Moore and Chris Sullivan finally picked up nominations. With a handful of guest acting nominations, led by Phylicia Rashad, “This Is Us” clearly has fans in the actor’s branch.  That should boost its chances at series, but a lack of nominations for directing and writing leave it without a strong chance to win.


  1. “Game of Thrones”
  2. “Better Call Saul”
  3. “Ozark”
  4. “This Is Us”
  5. “Succession”
  6. “Pose”
  7. “Killing Eve”
  8. “Bodyguard”

Will Win: “Game of Thrones” 

Who Should Win: “Better Call Saul”

Should Have Been Nominated: “Homecoming” (Amazon)

Which series do you think will win the Outstanding Drama Series? Let us know in the comments below!


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Written by Alan French

Alan French is a movie buff, a TV lover, and a sports fanatic. His favorite TV shows are 'Parks and Recreation,' 'Rick and Morty' and 'Game of Thrones.' He's also a Spielberg fanatic. You can find him on Twitter and Medium @TheAlanFrench.


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