Daily Arts Dream Emmy Ballots: Outstanding Drama Series
Today Daily Arts Writers and Editors wrap up our series on who we think should have been among the Emmy nominees announced earlier. Here’s our look at the last category, Outstanding Drama Series:
Alex Intner, Summer Managing Arts Editor:
“Better Call Saul”
“Game of Thrones”
This year’s class of dramas brings a sense of class and gravitas to television, and these six are among the best of that bunch. “The Americans” somehow improved upon its remarkable third season, putting out thirteen hours of television that continued to build upon their already strong story and paid off some plotlines in remarkable ways. “Better Call Saul” is another show that progressed substantially from its already strong prior efforts. It deepened its characterizations and told some fascinating stories involving Jimmy McGill and the people he loves. “Game of Thrones” ’s sixth season not only had some of the best production values on television, but also had enough big, shocking moments to justify its massive scope. “Hannibal” was one of the most beautiful shows on television when it aired, telling a fascinating story about the relationship between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. From its first moments, “Mr. Robot” was a look at a single character, one who struggles with reality and everything that happens around him. With such a strong central character in Elliot and some brilliant twists, the show’s first season was one of the best. And, “UnREAL” was a huge surprise when it premiered last year. Its biting, cynical look at the world of reality television ran with its ideas to exciting and tragic places.
Anay Katyal, Summer Senior Arts Editor:
“Better Call Saul”
“Game of Thrones”
“The Man in the High Castle”
With “Better Call Saul,” what could’ve been a pathetic excuse for a spin-off has turned into a chilling drama that could arguably rival the beginning seasons of its own parent show. Time will tell if such excellence can be sustained, but for the time being the show has been one of the most laudable dramas on television. “Game of Thrones” had a fair bit of criticisms and weaknesses with certain individual performances, but the aggregate story that was told in its sixth season was an epic that surpasses seasons before it, making for a chilling and captivating piece of television this past season. “The Leftovers,” being one of the more criminally underrated dramas on TV, has retained its adherence to consistency and enthralling narratives. A coup for Amazon, “The Man in the High Castle” has turned into one of the best thriller-mystery narratives to grace online streaming services, even rivaling some of television’s best counterparts with its graceful approach toward historical fiction and constant ability to keep audiences on their toes. “Mr. Robot” functions as the flagbearer for darker, grimmer television, mastering that subgenre of drama beautifully. Topping the list off, “Narcos” and its dramatization of the Escobar debacle that plagued Colombia in the ’90s, masterfully coupled an entertaining approach to historical storytelling with narratives and subnarratives that ensured the series never lacked in excitement.
Megan Mitchell, Daily Arts Writer:
“Game of Thrones”
This one was really hard. Drama series are often a game of hit-or-miss in the industry where many just don’t make the cut. However, these six represent the best of television, whether in their first or last season on the air, and leave audiences reeling for more. Take “Mr. Robot,” a series that will certainly outwit the sophomore slump with a magnificent tour de force into the darker, unseen side of television dramas. Meanwhile, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” finished its sixth season strong, exhibiting the strengths and weaknesses of its characters in an epic narrative that sent shivers down the spine at the sound of an organ. Winter is finally here. “The Americans” once again delivers a strong performance of a classic spy trope, adding in familial ties and the forces that threaten to break such bonds in an awe-inspiring balance of classic drama. Classic drama is hard to find these days on television. Unless, of course, you head over to PBS, where “Downton Abbey” said its final goodbyes during its farewell season. Grandly exiting the network, the series continued to remain true to its roots, keeping the cast as endearing and light-hearted as ever before. Although “Bates Motel” isn’t exactly light-hearted, it revels in the success that nostalgia has brought it over the past four seasons. As the series hurtled towards Hitchcock’s “Psycho” episode to episode, the captivation has not been lost on viewers, who cannot help the goosebumps that run through the body whenever Highmore is on screen. Finally, Starz’s adaptation of the novel “Outlander” celebrated its second season on air with romance and brutality alike. With grandiose sets and charming period acts, it’s easy to feel lost in time on this charming series, which rivals “Game of Thrones” in its compassion and raw emotion that has not wavered over two long seasons.
Sam Rosenberg, Daily Arts Writer:
“Orange is the New Black”
“Better Call Saul”
“Marvel’s Jessica Jones”
Though it seems obvious that “Game of Thrones” and “House of Cards” are frontrunners for Outstanding Drama Series at this year’s Emmys, I wanted to recognize five incredible dramas that still stand a chance against the competition. That, and I don’t watch either of the two aforementioned shows. Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” has proven season after season that it is not only one of the most entertaining television dramas in recent memory, but that its streaming platform has allowed the show to become a beacon of creativity for TV writers and producers, utilizing a diverse cast and progressive themes into its storyline. Lifetime doesn’t have a lot of great shows, but “UnREAL” is a remarkable standout, not just within its network, but also in television as a whole. Coupled with the show-within-a-show format, “UnREAL” ’s talented cast and clever writing fuel the program’s confident edginess and offer some insightful commentary about manipulation and reality television. AMC’s “Better Call Saul” has also proven to be somewhat of an unexpected success, considering how it followed one of the greatest television dramas of all time (“Breaking Bad”). With its mix of black humor and legal drama thrills, “Better Call Saul” benefits from being a worthy successor to “Breaking Bad,” while standing on its own as an admirable achievement in TV drama. “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” most likely won’t be nominated, but it definitely deserves praise for its incredible lead performances from Krysten Ritter and David Tennant, lush visuals, neo-noir tone, and dark but sensitive portrayal of PTSD and trauma. USA’s “Mr. Robot” won last year at the Golden Globes for Outstanding Drama Series, so it definitely has some potential to be a winner this year at the Emmys. Even with only one season under its belt — until the season 2 premiere last night — “Mr. Robot” ’s cyber-thriller premise is just as captivating as its unconventional camera compositions, compelling acting from Rami Malek, synth-heavy music score, and cinematic influences (“Fight Club,” especially).