When was the last time three 20-time Emmy nominees faced off in Best Drama Series? Try never

While all of the early Emmy drama series buzz has fallen to HBO’s “Succession” with its fourth and final season having launched on Sunday, this fails to acknowledge the fact that there are no fewer than four previous top series winners poised to compete against one another in the category this year: “Succession,” “The White Lotus,” “The Crown” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The fact that one of them won for Best Limited/Anthology series (“White Lotus”) rather than Best Drama Series is irrelevant. Best is best.

Moreover, there are three shows that earned more than 20 nominations apiece in their last qualifying year:

  • “Succession”: 25 nominations and four wins (including top drama) in 2022.
  • “The White Lotus”: 20 nominations and 10 wins (including limited series) in 2022.
  • The Crown”: 24 nominations and 11 wins (including Best Drama) in 2021.

The last time that three shows with at least 20 nominations and a top series prize in their most recent year of qualification competed in the same drama category? That would be never. There were years in the 1980s when you had stalwarts like “Hill Street Blues,” “St. Elsewhere” and “Cagney & Lacey” going head to head; in the 1990s with “NYPD Blue,” “ER” and “Law & Order” locking horns; in the 2000s with “The West Wing,” “The Sopranos” and “24” facing off; and in the 2010s with “Games of Thrones,” “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” competing. Yet on no occasion did three 20-time series nominees for a single season ever meet in their next-qualifying year. In fact, there hasn’t even been a time when there were two.

So while “Succession” has busted out to a big early lead over the field in the Gold Derby drama series race with combined odds of 4/1 – with “White Lotus” second at 11/2, “Better Call Saul” and “The Last of Us” tied for third at 15/2 and “The Crown” fifth at 19/2 – there’s still a long way to go in this race and absolutely nothing has been decided yet. Stay tuned, ladies and gentlemen.

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