Each Emmy nominated drama series is asked to submit six episodes from their eligible season to serve as a sample of their work. Variety asked creatives behind each nominated series to discuss the decisions that went into those submissions.
THE AMERICANS (FX)
“We wanted to go with some sense of momentum in picking mostly [the season’s] later episodes, and one early on that had a big moment and set the table for what was to come,” says executive producer Joel Fields of putting episodes four, seven, eight, nine, 12, and 13 of season four before Emmy voters. “We very quickly settled on four of the six, and in choosing the final two it then became about thinking through, ‘Do we want to go more for flow, for favorite episodes?’ And we picked one early and one later to give a sense of the whole season,” says series creator Joe Weisberg.
BETTER CALL SAUL (AMC)
“We backload the drama on our show, just like the most interesting scenes in a movie are typically at the end, and for us the most dramatic episodes are at the end of the season,” says executive producer Vince Gilligan of choosing episodes four through six, and eight through 10 of season two. “We tried to keep it as contiguous as possible. We jumped around a bit but favored the latter half of the season.”
DOWNTON ABBEY (PBS)
“With a final season it felt right to have a run of episodes leading up to the climax as the major characters move towards their resolutions,” says executive producer Gareth Neame of choosing episodes one, three, six, seven, eight, and nine of the sixth and final season. “We included the feature-length [season] premiere to set the scene and the feature-length finale for the reward. Episode 603 — spoiler alert — includes the Carson and Mrs. Hughes wedding and the unexpected return of Tom Branson, as these are all such beloved characters.”
GAME OF THRONES (HBO)
“We don’t have a very evolved strategy,” say showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who submitted episodes one through four plus nine and 10 of season six. “Especially this year, where we feel every director did such a strong job. We just pick the ones that feel like they’ll have the strongest impact. And we assume that most people who would consider voting for the show will probably have seen the season as a whole anyway.”
Executive producer Lesli Linka Glatter directed episode two, “The Tradition of Hospitality,” which was submitted along with episodes four, eight, nine, 11, and 12 of season five. “This was the inciting incident of last season,” Glatter says of “Hospitality,” in which Carrie and her new boss come under attack in a Syrian refugee camp. “It was shot from Carrie’s point of view and she is taking us into the scene emotionally, and to me that’s what’s so essential about the storytelling and the fact that we want to make this as realistic as we can.”
MR. ROBOT (USA)
For its first year in contention, the USA drama took the smattering approach, submitting the first two and last three episodes of the season, along with episode six (when Elliot finds out what’s in the trunk). “I picked the pilot,” says creator Sam Esmail. “It was the best showcase of all the different worlds — the corporate world, the Allsafe world and Fsociety. With that one we had all the bases covered. For the other five I probably just asked all my friends, ‘What’s your favorite episode?’”
(Note: Netflix’s “House of Cards” declined to participate.)