It’s been 15 years since one of the big four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) won Best Drama Series at the Emmys, which means babies born that year are now almost legal to drive. Does that make you feel old? Action drama “24” was the last such series to prevail in 2006, but now NBC’s “This Is Us” is hoping to take up the mantle for all broadcasters and claim gold when the 2021 Emmy Awards are handed in September. Its rival nominees for Best Drama Series are “The Boys,” “Bridgerton,” “The Crown,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Lovecraft Country,” “The Mandalorian” and “Pose.”
Now having completed five seasons, “This Is Us” has contended for the top prize every year except for 2020. And it’s taken home four Emmys through the years, all for acting: Ron Cephas Jones in 2020 and ’18, Gerald McRaney in ’17 and Sterling K. Brown in ’17. For the current 2021 cycle, the peacock family drama is up for six total nominations: series, actor (Brown), supporting actor (Chris Sullivan), guest actress (Phylicia Rashad), prosthetic makeup and music composition.
“This Is Us” Season 5 wrapped up in May, with the three Pearson kids (Brown as Randall, Chrissy Metz as Kate and Justin Hartley as Kevin) gathering for Kevin’s wedding to Madison (Caitlin Thompson). A flash-forward twist then reveals that Kate and Toby (Sullivan) are no longer married, setting the stage for an epic sixth and final season full of OMG and WTF moments.
This year, Brown earned major awards buzz thanks to the heralded “Birth Mother” episode, in which Randall finally learns the truth about Laurel, played by Jennifer C. Holmes and Calah Lane (younger version). Laurel’s long-lost love Hai tells the entire story to Randall and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), including why Randall’s birth mother never contacted him when he was growing up and how she died of cancer a few years earlier.
Brown has now gone five-for-five with Emmy nominations for “This Is Us”; he’s also up this year for narrating “Lincoln: Divided We Stand.” Pearson parents Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore are both former nominees for these roles, with Ventimiglia earning three bids (2017-19) and Moore scoring a single nom (2019). In the supporting categories, Metz (2017) and Sullivan (2019) are previous nominees, while Hartley and Watson are among those still looking for their first citations — maybe next year?
Below, see a closer look at the last time each of the big four networks proved victorious in the Best Drama Series race. Can “This Is Us” bring it back home for broadcasters this year?
Fox: “24” in 2006
ABC: “Lost” in 2005
NBC: “The West Wing” in 2003
CBS: “Picket Fences” in 1994
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