“This Is Us” was one of the earliest shows on Emmy voters’ radar to return with new episodes in the fall. The NBC drama began its fifth season by reflecting the times in America, from the Black Lives Matter reckoning to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first two episodes received universal acclaim from critics, and later episodes like “Birth Mother,” in which Randall (Sterling K. Brown) learns the truth about his biological mother, were hailed as standouts. This positive buzz could launch “This Is Us” back into the kind of Emmy success it hasn’t enjoyed since its first few seasons.
Last year, in a competitive field, “This Is Us” was not nominated for Best Drama Series for the first time, though Ron Cephas Jones did win another Emmy for the show, and Brown and Phylicia Rashad collected additional nominations of their own. Of last year’s eight Best Drama Series nominees, a whopping five shows are not eligible this year: “Better Call Saul,” “Killing Eve,” “Ozark,” “Stranger Things” and winner “Succession.” This puts “This Is Us” in a strong position to rebound, as only “The Crown,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Mandalorian” are able to return. It is always a mystery how Emmy voters will respond to new shows, so one could imagine them falling back on one of their old favorites.
“This Is Us” is currently in seventh place for a Best Drama Series bid, according to our latest odds. Brown is expected to receive his fifth consecutive nomination in Best Drama Actor, where he sits comfortably in fifth place. Chris Sullivan, who plays Toby on the series, earned his first Emmy bid for the third season in 2019, but he might not be a one-time nominee at this rate. At the moment, the scene-stealer ranks seventh in the Best Drama Supporting Actor odds. Meanwhile, previous nominees Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia and Chrissy Metz are all on the outside looking in for their respective categories, as are co-stars Justin Hartley and Susan Kelechi Watson, but a bevy of vacated slots could be just what the Emmy gods ordered for them.
Last year marked the first time in four years that network television was blanked at the Emmys in Best Drama Series, with “This Is Us” holding down the fort for the three years in between. It’s possible that those in the TV academy who work on broadcast television and understand its difficulties, especially after last year’s restrictions, will be inclined to give a welcome back hug to the Pearsons this summer.
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