Emmy Awards 2023 Outstanding Drama Series: HBO vs. HBO

After one year out of competition, Succession reclaimed its Outstanding Drama Series crown at the 2022 Emmy Awards, and with its fourth season set to debut this spring, it could very well pick up its third win in the category this September as well. However, it certainly won’t be unchallenged – most notably, by its own television network. Yes, although HBO has long been seen as the “king of the Emmys,” racking up countless wins year after year, it’s poised to even outdo its own record this year when it comes to Drama Series nominations, with four shows in contention that could all feasibly make it into the final field – House of the DragonThe White LotusThe Last of Us, and Succession (doubling its number of nominations last year, when Succession and Euphoria were nominated). And outside of Drama Series, HBO could simply dominate all the Drama categories between these four shows and where they’ll contend. Let’s take a look at whose strongest, and where they could come out on top.

Succession

Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook, and Jeremy Strong in Succession

As the reigning champ in Outstanding Drama Series, Succession is the one to beat right now, and it helps that it has all the momentum in the world after that show-stopping Season 3 finale. Sight unseen, the entire ensemble should be angling for acting nominations again (as they did for both Season 2 and Season 3), and look for it to make a strong showing in the directing and writing categories, too. However, it is tough to truly say what its win potential is in any of these races without having seen any episodes yet, but even still, one disadvantage that may already be weighing on it is that Emmy voters could soon decide that it’s been “awarded enough,” especially with hotter contenders on the rise (as you’ll see below) that have yet to receive their due and are more than deserving.

The Last of Us

Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal in The Last of Us

HBO’s latest ratings juggernaut is looking to dominate the awards circuit next, and it very easily should, with expected nominations for Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in Lead Actor and Lead Actress, respectively, while Craig Mazin could be a three-time nominee, for writing and directing the pilot (“When You’re Lost in the Darkness”) and for writing the already instantly iconic third episode “Long, Long Time,” which set social media ablaze when it premiered a week ago and has quickly become regarded as one of the greatest episodes in television history. Additionally, it’s highly likely that The Last of Us could fill up the Guest Actor and Guest Actress categories all by itself, with Nick Offerman, Murray Bartlett, Anna Torv, Nico Parker, and more all giving memorable performances in the short screentime they had and providing the show with an emotional punch. Oh, and this should be quite formidable below-the-line too.

The White Lotus

Haley Lu Richardson, Jennifer Coolidge, and Sabrina Impacciatore in The White Lotus

Migrating over from the Miniseries category, The White Lotus now finds itself as a top contender to win several Drama awards, but can lightning strike twice for Mike White’s social satire? At the very least, it should be in the hunt for two more nominations for White himself (in both the writing and directing categories), and it’s easy to see a world where it’s cast is “overnominated” as they were for the first season, with F. Murray Abraham, Meghann Fahy, Michael Imperioli, and Aubrey Plaza appearing to be the likeliest to land noms outside of last year’s winner Jennifer Coolidge, who is already the Drama Supporting Actress frontrunner and could remain that way all season. There’s a world where she’s the show’s lone win this season, especially if something “showier” like The Last of Us takes the writing and directing trophies, but given how huge of a hit this was right before the holidays – and how many came to regard it as superior to the first season – never say never.

House of the Dragon

Olivia Cooke and Emma D'Arcy in House of the Dragon

Last but certainly not least is HBO’s other ratings juggernaut, the staggeringly successful Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon. Already a Golden Globe winner in the Drama Series category (despite odd misses at the guilds thus far), it’s all-too-easy to see Dragon repeating its predecessor’s success below-the-line thanks to the scope and scale of this blockbuster of a show, but don’t sleep on it above the line as well, where Paddy Considine, Emma D’Arcy, Matt Smith, and Olivia Cooke remain strong contenders for acting nominations and Miguel Sapochnik should land a farewell nomination for directing (after departing the series ahead of start of pre-production on the second season). Of these four, it’s the least likely to win any of its major awards – the competition is pretty fierce, and respect for it may not be on the level of GOT just yet – but it should be a shoo-in for nods in many of these expanded line-ups thanks to how huge of a hit it was.

Written by
Though Zoë Rose Bryant has only worked in film criticism for a little under three years - turning a collegiate passion into a full-time career by writing for outlets such as Next Best Picture and Awards Watch - her captivation with cinema has been a lifelong fascination, appreciating film in all its varying forms, from horror movies to heartfelt romantic comedies and everything in between. Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, she made the move to Los Angeles in 2021 after graduating college and now spends her days keeping tabs on all things pop culture and attempting to attend every screening under the sun. As a trans critic, she also seeks to champion underrepresented voices in the LGBTQ+ community in film criticism and offer original insight on how gender and sexuality are explored in modern entertainment. You can find Zoë on Twitter, Instagram, and Letterboxd at @ZoeRoseBryant.

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