How ‘Shogun’ Is Shaking Up the Emmy Race

When the Emmy nominations are announced July 17, something will happen that hasn’t happened in 50 years: The nominees for best drama series will include only one previously nominated show, Netflix’s The Crown. I would love to be able to say that’s because there are so many great dramas out there and that TV Academy members are diligently watching them and championing different great ones this year. But the truth is, this field, historically among the strongest each season, now looks like a wasteland.

Such perennial nominees as HBO’s Succession and Westworld and AMC’s Better Call Saul have ended, along with second-tier contenders like Paramount+’s The Good Fight and Star Trek: Picard. Some ongoing, previously nominated shows were not back in time to be eligible, in some cases because of delays caused by the writers and actors strikes, including Netflix’s Stranger Things, Squid Game and Bodyguard; HBO/Max’s Euphoria, House of the Dragon, The Last of Us and The White Lotus; Disney+’s Andor and The Mandalorian; Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale; Apple TV+’s Severance; Amazon’s The Boys; and Showtime’s Yellowjackets. And the show that arguably is TV’s best drama series is — like the now-concluded HBO’s Barry in recent years — competing as a comedy series: Hulu’s The Bear.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

Frankly, the only reason The Crown appears assured of another nom — for what proved to be its mediocre sixth and final season — is because the field is so thin. (Netflix seems to get this: Its campaign this season is urging Academy members to recognize the series as a whole.)

The rest of the eight-slot category will be filled out by three kinds of shows. One type will be middling series from high-profile platforms, such as season three of Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, which has a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of just 11 percent. Another type will be a high-quality show whose previous seasons were boxed out by heavier competition; Apple TV+’s Slow Horses, now up for its third season; HBO/Max’s second seasons of The Gilded Age, Tokyo Vice and Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty; and Disney+’s Loki fall into this group. (Even Showtime’s Billions could be up for consideration for its seventh and final season.) And then there are rookies that would have been longer shots in a normal year: Showtime’s The Curse; Amazon’s Fallout and Mr. and Mrs. Smith; Netflix’s 3 Body Problem; Apple TV+’s Hijack and Sugar; Disney+’s Ahsoka; and CBS’ Elsbeth.

But the reality is that none of these shows had a strong enough season to merit them a place alongside past drama series winners, among them NBC’s The West Wing, HBO’s The Sopranos, ABC’s Lost, Fox’s 24, AMC’s Breaking Bad and Showtime’s Homeland.

That’s why FX announced May 16 that it is expanding one of the year’s most outstanding shows, Shōgun, from a limited series to a drama series, with at least two more seasons in the works, and Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays Lord Toranaga, confirmed to return.

Given the competition, or lack thereof, and the popularity of Shōgun as FX’s most watched show ever (based on global hours streamed), it’s hard to imagine it won’t cruise to a win, bringing the network its first prize in a category in which it previously landed nominations for Damages, The Americans and Pose. And you can be sure that backers of every remaining limited series — among them Netflix’s Ripley and Baby Reindeer; FX’s Fargo and Feud: Capote vs. the Swans; HBO/Max’s True Detective: Night Country and The Sympathizer; Apple TV+’s Lessons in Chemistry and Masters of the Air; and Paramount+’s Lawmen: Bass Reeves — are breathing a sigh of relief that it’s gone.

This story first appeared in the May 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Best of The Hollywood Reporter