“Downton Abbey” has won an impressive three SAG Awards for Best TV Drama Ensemble for its large cast — in 2013 and again in 2015 and 2016 — and now it looks to tie “ER” with a record fourth victory. But there’s one big difference: “Downton Abbey” never won Best Drama Series at the Emmys.
“Downton Abbey” first competed at the Emmys in 2011 in the movie/miniseries categories and was able to win Best Movie/Miniseries and Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress (Maggie Smith) that first year. But starting in season two it competed as a drama and was nominated for Best Drama Series for five straight years (2012-2016), but never won. However, the Screen Actors Guild has been much more generous. Frankly, it might have already won its fourth SAG Ensemble award had it not been interrupted by farewell sentiment for “Breaking Bad,” which won the top prize in 2014.
“ER” won Best Drama Ensemble four years straight from 1996-1999, but it also picked up several individual acting awards: Anthony Edwards won Best Drama Actor in 1996 and 1998, and Julianna Margulies won Best Drama Actress in 1998-1999. Even in 1997 when “ER” didn’t win an individual award both Edwards and George Clooney were nominated.
But this year “Downton Abbey” is only nominated for Drama Ensemble; for the first time in the show’s history no member of the cast was individually nominated. When “Downton Abbey” won for the first time in 2013 both Smith and Michelle Dockery were nominated for Best Drama Actress. Smith won in 2014, which was ironically the year “Downton Abbey” lost Drama Ensemble. In 2015 and 2016 Smith was again nominated for Best Drama Actress.
According to Gold Derby’s exclusive odds “Downton Abbey” sits in third place as of this writing with odds of 4/1. Reigning Emmy champ “Game of Thrones” is currently in first place with odds of 7/5 even though it has never won Best Ensemble before, and recent Golden Globe champ “The Crown” is in second place with odds of 3/1. “Downton Abbey” used to have an advantage with new episodes airing during the voting period in January, but the series ended back in March, which could put them out of sight, out of mind. Also, with two prestigious British productions in competition – “Downton Abbey” and “The Crown” — it is entirely possible these shows might cancel each other out.
But even if “Downton Abbey” should be unsuccessful in equaling “ER” as the most awarded drama ensemble it will still have bragging rights as it sits in second place currently by itself with three wins, so while it never won Emmy’s top drama award it will undoubtedly go down one of the industry’s favorite shows.
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