Currently every single one of Gold Derby’s Experts predicts “The Crown” will win Best Drama Series at the upcoming 2021 Emmys. Their predictions are no doubt influenced by the Netflix regal show’s domination of the winter awards season, including at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice and SAG Awards. But it’s not a done deal just yet. After all, Emmy voters rarely agree with what the precursors tell them do — that’s part of what makes them so challenging to predict. Sure, “The Crown” Season 4 was arguably its best yet, as the focus shifted to Emma Corrin as Princess Diana, Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles and Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher. But which other TV shows actually have a realistic chance of dethroning the odds-on front-runner? Let’s take a look at five more leading Best Drama Series Emmy contenders.
“The Mandalorian” Season 2 (Disney+) — 6/2 odds to win
Last year, this “Star Wars” offshoot about a masked bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) and his cute, green sidekick turned out to be a surprise Emmy magnet. It won a whopping seven below-the-line trophies (production design, sound editing, music composition, stunt coordination, sound mixing, cinematography and visual effects), plus it received high-profile bids for series, guest actor for Giancarlo Esposito and voice-over performance for Taika Waititi. The second season turned out to be even more buzzy than the first, thanks in part to the reveal of Baby Yoda’s real identity: Grogu the Jedi.
“Bridgerton” Season 1 (Netflix) — 7/1 odds to win
One of the most talked-about shows of the year, “Bridgerton” is based on Julia Quinn‘s novels and tells the story of London’s high society days of 1813, when young debutantes are presented for courting. Rege-Jean Page plays Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, who quickly becomes a love interest for Phoebe Dynevor‘s young socialite character, Daphne Bassett. As the season progresses, Daphne becomes smitten with Simon and they eventually get married. It’s only then that she finds out her new husband has not been entirely truthful with her. “Bridgerton” will rake in a ton of noms thanks to its flamboyant costumes, glorious sets, big hairdos, etc., so don’t count it out in the top category.
“Lovecraft Country” Season 1 (HBO) — 17/2 odds to win
The horror series based on writer H. P. Lovecraft‘s fictional stories stars Jonathan Majors as a man searching for his missing father (Critics Choice Awards winner Michael Kenneth Williams) in 1950s Jim Crow America. Jurnee Smollett plays his childhood friend/current love interest, and the supporting cast includes Jamie Chung, Aunjanue Ellis, Jada Harris, Abbey Lee, Wunmi Mosaku and Jordan Patrick Smith. “Lovecraft Country” was the only HBO show in 2020 to make the AFI Top 10 list. With last year’s Emmy champ “Succession” sitting out this cycle, might “Lovecraft” take over the Best Drama Series spot for the paycaster?
“The Handmaid’s Tale” Season 4 (Hulu) — 17/2 odds to win
The new episodes take place where Season 3 ended, with June (Elisabeth Moss) being shot after helping dozens of children escape Gilead via an airplane. Don’t forget, the first season of this streaming show, based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, won the Emmy for Best Drama Series in 2017. And it’s clearly still a favorite of the acting branch, the Television Academy’s biggest branch, with wins through the years for Moss for lead actress (2017), Ann Dowd for supporting actress (2017), Alexis Bledel for guest actress (2017), Samira Wiley for guest actress (2018), Cherry Jones for guest actress (2019) and Bradley Whitford for guest actor (2019).
“Pose” Season 3 (FX) — 9/1 odds to win
If parting is such sweet sorrow, might “Pose” get a goodbye hug in the form of an Emmy Award? The show is already a winner in Best Drama Actor, with Billy Porter claiming victory in 2019 for his portrayal of ballroom emcee Pray Tell. The last episodes depicted Pray’s struggle with AIDS in the early 1990s, particularly what it meant for a person of color trying to receive equal treatment and care. Porter’s co-lead Mj Rodriguez broke viewers’ hearts in the final season, as her character Blanca Evangelista watched all of her house’s children grow up and leave the nest. Will she become the first transgender person nominated for a lead acting Emmy?
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