“Game of Thrones” won 12 Emmys in 2015, more than any other series has ever claimed in a single year. Those dozen trophies brought the show’s all-time total wins to 26, tying it with “The West Wing” and “Hill Street Blues” as the Emmys’ most honored drama. But “Game of Thrones” was only the second sci-fi or fantasy series ever to win Best Drama Series, following “Lost” in 2005. Was the sweep just a fluke or is the TV academy’s long-standing bias against genre shows finally over?
According to our experts, “Game of Thrones” will win Best Drama for the second year in a row, so perhaps the bias really is bust. Seventeen out of 20 TV journalists polled are predicting it to win again, giving it leading 1/10 odds: Robert Bianco (USA Today), Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Eric Deggans (NPR), Lynn Elber (Associated Press), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Pete Hammond (Deadline), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Don Kaplan (NY Daily News), Richard Lawson (Vanity Fair), Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Anne Thompson (Indiewire), Ken Tucker (Yahoo), Glenn Whipp (LA Times), Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed). See racetrack odds in all top Emmy races.
But it’s not necessarily a slam dunk. Netflix’s “House of Cards” has been waiting to take its turn in the winner’s circle, earning a Best Drama Series bid every year since 2013. It ranks second with 1/1 odds and support from two experts: Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly) and Robert Rorke (New York Post). On paper, “House of Cards” is the more typical Emmy-winner: a drama with real-world political implications (like “The West Wing”); a morally corrupt anti-hero (like “Breaking Bad”); and a tense, often combative marriage (like “The Sopranos”). And we mustn’t forget the awards-friendly pedigrees of Oscar-nominated creator Beau Willimon and Oscar-winning star Kevin Spacey. Perhaps we’re underestimating this series, now in its fourth year.
“Better Call Saul” (5/4 odds) ranks third with one expert, Adnan Virk (ESPN), betting on it to win. The spin-off of “Breaking Bad” earned a Best Drama nomination for its first season last year. Perhaps it will grow steadily from year to year just like “Breaking Bad” did before its back-to-back Best Drama wins in 2013 and 2014 for seasons five and six. “Breaking Bad” wasn’t even nominated for the top prize in its first season, so “Saul” already has a head start.
Of the other four shows nominated for Best Drama at last year’s Emmys, three are eligible to return: “Downton Abbey” (2/1 odds), “Homeland” (4/1 odds) and “Orange is the New Black” (5/1 odds). The only series that’s out of contention is “Mad Men,” which ended its run last spring. So what could fill that open slot?
USA’s critically hailed freshman drama “Mr. Robot” (3/2 odds) appears to be the strongest bet to enter the contest. It’s coming off of Best Drama wins at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards. Though some shows are slow to catch on with Emmy voters, others rise to the top immediately, with “Homeland” and “Mad Men” claiming the top prize for their first seasons.
The fourth season of “The Americans” (3/1 odds) could also finally break through after years of critical plaudits. It’s coming off of arguably its best season yet.
Below, current odds set by the experts’ picks. Make your predictions here and compete against these experts and your friends.
BEST DRAMA SERIES
1. “Game of Thrones” – 1/10
2. “House of Cards” – 1/1
3. “Better Call Saul” – 5/4
4. “Mr. Robot” – 3/2
5. “Downton Abbey” – 2/1
6. “The Americans” – 3/1
7. “Homeland” – 4/1
8. “Orange is the New Black” – 5/1
9. “The Good Wife” – 5/1
10. “Billions” – 5/1
11. “Outlander” – 11/2
12. “UnReal” – 11/2
13. “Narcos” -11/2
14. “The Leftovers” – 6/1
15. “The Affair” – 6/1
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions right here. You’ll compete to win our contest prizes for best picks — $500 (first place), $300 (second place) and $200 (third place) in Amazon gift certificates — a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Emmy nominations). Be sure to read our contest rules.