Even with seven series in the hunt, Emmy’s drama field could be twice as large because of all the worthy candidates in the peak TV era. Among the contenders this time, the battle lines seem to be drawn as a choice between the great spectacle of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and the seductively subversive world of USA’s “Mr. Robot.” But two beloved spy-fi series could well be sleepers to watch: FX’s “The Americans,” which finally earned some Emmy respect after four seasons, and Showtime’s “Homeland,” which reinvented itself yet again in season five.
The chances of reigning champ “Game of Thrones” nabbing back-to-back wins are strong. The fantasy drama raised the stakes again with the emotional arcs for its core characters and the stunning accompanying visuals. Plus, given the opportunity, Emmy voters love repeat victories. Shows that logged consecutive drama series wins during the past 30 years include “L.A. Law” (1989-91), “Picket Fences” (1993-94), “The Practice” (1998-99), “The West Wing” (2000-03), “Mad Men” (2008-2011), and “Breaking Bad” (2013-14).
THE CASE FOR ‘THRONES’
There’s no more complex production in all of TV, and Emmy voters have consistently demonstrated an appreciation for productions with epic sweep. Season six was also the first in which showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss charted their own course for the story without the published work of book series author George R.R. Martin guiding them. They more than delivered with satisfying plot twists and cinematic battles. Because “Thrones” didn’t win until season five, voters may want to reinforce their respect with a second trophy.
THE CASE FOR ‘ROBOT’
Nobody saw this one coming — and that alone helped “Mr. Robot” rise above the pack in its stealthy way last summer. USA’s moody psychological thriller about a computer whiz determined to battle the evils of Evil Corp. was full of unexpected twists and turns and reveals. First-time showrunner and series creator Sam Esmail pulled off an impossible feat, as did his rookie star Rami Malek in the guise of the unpredictable Elliot Alderson. Much like they anointed “Homeland” its first season, voters may want to crown this freshman wunderkind.
“The Americans” (FX)
Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, the spies who finally came in the from the Emmy cold in season four, were never better in their ever-changing roles as pillars of a Soviet sleeper cell in the mid-1980s.
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
The “Breaking Bad” prequel only grew stronger in plumbing the lower depths of Bob Odenkirk’s soon-to-be Saul Goodman character in season two.
“Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Viewers bid a fond farewell to the stalwart British ensembler, which wrapped up its six seasons of storylines with a tasteful bow.
A storyline that eerily predicted global headlines and fantastic additions to the supporting cast gave Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison a great platform to strut her stuff.
“House of Cards” (Netflix)
The sturdy political player served up surprises in season four by diving deep into the psyche of its Lady Macbeth, Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood.