news Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Drama Series — Can ‘Squid Game’ Succeed ‘Succession’?


Last Year’s Winner: “The Crown”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: With last year’s winner out of the race, talk of a streak goes to a network level. Will Netflix, which won the category for the very first time last year, keep the momentum going with a “Squid Game” win, or will HBO reclaim their throne now that “Succession” is back?
Notable Ineligible Series: “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Season 6 was not eligible); “The Crown” (Season 5 was not eligible); “Westworld” (Season 4 was not eligible); “The Boys” (Season 3 was not eligible); “The Mandalorian” (Season 3 was not eligible)

This article will be updated throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2022 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting took place from June 16 to June 27, with the official Emmy nominations announced on Tuesday, July 12. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out over two consecutive nights on Saturday, September 3 and Sunday, September 4, with an edited presentation on the ceremonies to be broadcast on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 8:00 p.m. ET on FXX. Finally, the 74rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place on Monday, September 12, and air live on NBC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

The State of the Race​

Emmy nominations morning certainly brought more surprises than expected, yet this year’s Outstanding Drama Series race has been the most predictable of the major categories. A large part of that is due to the fact that “Succession” is back! And is leading the pack with 25 nominations! And broke a decades-old record for most acting nominations for a single season! What’s fascinating as well is that none of the actors being recognized come as curveballs. For example, Kieran Culkin, Nicholas Braun, and Matthew Macfadyen were all nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for the second season, and the latter two just did their best work yet with Season 3. J. Smith-Cameron is the only series regular to get their first nomination for the show this year, likely some residual love for her titillating scenes with Culkin, of which there were too few in Season 3. And all of the nominated guest stars, from Adrien Brody to MVP Guest Actress Harriet Walter took part in a lot of the season’s most pivotal moments. That said, while its three Directing nominations are deserved (Lorene Scafaria’s work on “Too Much Birthday” in particular conveying the unique atmosphere of the show), to say “Succession” Season 3 was the best of the series so far would probably be an unpopular opinion.

Its biggest competition is another record-breaker that was the biggest surprise of the television season. “Squid Game” now has the distinction of being the first non-English show to be nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, and is tied with fellow freshman series “Severance” for the third-most nominated Outstanding Drama Series contender (with 14 nominations). Netflix’s biggest international hit has the most captivating narrative of any nominee, with threads that appeal to both critical and populist ideals. It is likely the first time there’s been a global conversation about a series, but the phenomenon was also made for a tiny fraction of the cost for a season of “The Crown,” last year’s category winner and one of the streaming network’s most expensive shows.

Predicting how “Squid Game” will be awarded in the major categories, if at all, is tricky. If “Parasite” is the precedent for how Hollywood honors major non-English projects, then that film won Best Picture without any of its cast even being nominated in the actor categories. If we base it off of the show’s success at this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, stars Lee Jung-jae and Jun Ho-Yeon won the Male and Female Actor in a Drama Series categories, but “Squid Game” lost to “Succession” in the major Ensemble category. Obviously the ideal is that the show wins in all major categories, but if it is an either/or situation, it may be the safer bet to predict it winning Outstanding Drama Series just because of its achievements overall, though Netflix famously had an extremely difficult time winning this award until last year (a year where many big contenders were ineligible).

Anyhow, as far as dark horses go, we’re going to see a bigger push for “Severance.” The people that binged it seem to really love it, but on the other side are plenty of people who have drawn out their viewing of the mind-bending drama. Its excellent showing on the nominations front incentivizes more voters to finally give it a full watch, meaning that it will be more top of mind in Phase 2 of Emmy voting.

“Ozark” did a good job of sticking the landing in its final, extra-long season, so it may be due for a parting gift in the form of a big win here. However, while it has collected dozens of nominations over the years, the only three that the show has won so far are two back-to-back Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Emmys for Julia Garner, and one Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Emmy for Jason Bateman. With no love in the below-the-line categories, the Netflix hit remains a longshot to the end.

One nominated series that kind of has the opposite problem is HBO’s blockbuster teen drama “Euphoria,” which is actually the second most nominated Outstanding Drama Series contender this year. While its most notable win so far has been for its star Zendaya, it is largely a show that does better below the line (its other two Season 1 wins are Outstanding Contemporary Makeup (Non-Prosthetic) and Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics). Its lack of nominations for Outstanding Writing or Directing for a Drama Series makes a win in Outstanding Drama Series seem difficult, but there could be enough good will for Lead Actress frontrunner Zendaya, supporting cast breakout Sydney Sweeney, and the many great artisans working on it behind the scenes to push it over the edge, and surprise everyone.

“Yellowjackets” is another case where it did not get a ton of love below the line, receiving only 7 nominations, but the categories it did get nominated for show that its freshman season went over really well with voters. It is the only show nominated twice in the Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series category, it broke into the tight Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series race, and it has Melanie Lynskey, who is likely Zendaya’s biggest competition for the Lead Actress category (she already won a Critics Choice Award this year for her performance). Showtime’s only Outstanding Drama Series Emmy was for Season 1 of “Homeland,” so maybe beginner’s luck will work its magic for the network again.

Finally, “Better Call Saul” and “Stranger Things” both had highly regarded seasons this year, that both served as a prelude to their concluding season, but neither series has ever had a win in any major category. Given how voters will still have one more shot to award both shows at a later Emmys, there seems to be little chance either will win in this specific category come September.

Power Rankings:

  1. “Succession” (HBO)
  2. “Squid Game” (Netflix)
  3. “Severance” (Apple TV+)
  4. “Ozark” (Netflix)
  5. “Euphoria” (HBO)
  6. “Yellowjackets” (Showtime)
  7. “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
  8. “Stranger Things” (Netflix)

Will Win:“Succession”
Could Win:“Squid Game”
Should Win:“Squid Game”