HomeStreamingHow Many Emmy Wins Should Season 4 Get? Time to Vote! – IndieWire
How Many Emmy Wins Should Season 4 Get? Time to Vote! – IndieWire
August 2, 2023
(Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for “Succession” Season 4.)
“Succession” fervor peaked in May, when the vaunted HBO drama aired its final episodes, but there’s one more victory lap to be had for Jesse Armstrong & Co. With 27 nominations, the two-time defending Best Drama Series champion is looking to add to its trophy case at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards. When exactly that will happen is unknown (the TV Academy announced in July it was delaying the scheduled September ceremony for an as yet undetermined date), but most experts expect “Succession” to dominate the drama categories no matter when the trophies are doled out.
How big a night could it be? Let’s look at the numbers: “Succession” set a series-high in total nominations this year, with its 27 nods spread across 15 categories. The current record for the most Emmys won by a series in a single season is 12, which “Game of Thrones” accomplished three times (in 2015, 2016, and 2019). Those first two years, it managed 12 wins from just 24 nominations, whereas the HBO juggernaut needed 32 nominations to reach the same win total in 2019.
But more nominations don’t necessarily equate to more wins. A big nominee tally helps illustrate a show’s popularity within the overall voting body, as well as individual branches, but you need widespread support across many categories to pull in double-digit wins. When “Game of Thrones” won 12 Emmys, it competed in 18 categories (in 2015), 19 categories (2016), and 23 categories (2019). Most of its victories came at the Creative Arts ceremonies, where the big-budget fantasy epic routinely raided the craft categories. “Succession,” meanwhile, saw most of its nominations in acting categories — 14 of its 27 — which may make it difficult to match the win record (or even reach double digits).
Records aside, a victory in Best Drama Series, as well as expected wins for its cast, writing, and directing, would make for an impressive haul. Check out IndieWire’s predictions for more on what you can expect, but that’s not why you’re here. It’s easy to get caught up in big numbers and historical moments, but what does “Succession” deserve to win? Emmy winners aren’t competing against the past; they’re competing against other great shows. While it may be fun to think about “Succession” topping “Game of Thrones” for the most wins ever, it may be less exciting once you realize who has to lose for that to happen. Below, IndieWire breaks it down category by category, race by race, nominee by nominee, to determine how many Emmys “Succession” should win. Hopefully it helps to set expectations — and remind voters what else is out there.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Yes, “Succession” should win — but who among them is most deserving?
Let’s kick things off with one of the most difficult categories — and one that’s caught the most heat. Splitting eight slots between only two shows is a bold move, even by Emmy standards. Did no other dramatic supporting actors merit a mention? No one from “Better Call Saul,” “Andor,” or “The Good Fight”? Not even a long-time favorite of the TV Academy, “The Crown,” could crack a category controlled solely by “The White Lotus” and “Succession,” which — even if you’re a die-hard fan of each — just feels wrong. But I digress. We’re here to assess who should win, not who should’ve been nominated, so let’s start with the obvious: Sorry “White Lotus,” but you’re out of your depth. F. Murray Abraham and Michael Imperioli carried a super-strange father-son story with wit and warmth, while Will Sharpe had to shoulder much of the series’ dramatic weight, but only Theo James comes close to touching the “Succession” team. (His smarmy lothario gets richer every episode, and much of the credit goes to how James unleashes such unapologetic entitlement.)
So who among the four Waystar-Royco affiliates — Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen, Alan Ruck, and Alexander Skarsgård — should take home the trophy? For me, it’s either Macfadyen or Ruck. Braun had a stronger third season, while Skarsgård’s best performance this year was in another show. As much as I’d love to see Ruck win after landing his long overdue first nomination, it’s just hard to top Macfadyen’s massive Season 4 arc. Give the man his second Emmy.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
No, as much as it pains me to say it, “Succession” should not win.
How do you vote against J. Smith-Cameron? When she’s up against Rhea Seehorn. It’s as simple as that, even if it doesn’t feel quite so easy. Sure, I’d love to see Gerri perched in an after-party lounge chair, cradling an Emmy in one hand, a cocktail in the other, pushing her heeled foot into Kieran Culkin’s elated face. But it would be a make-up win for Season 3, Smith-Cameron’s superior performance, and if we’re doling out make-up wins, then the Emmys already owe Seehorn five or six.
Best Music Composition for a Series
Nicholas Britell won “Succession” its first Emmy, back in 2019, for Original Main Title Theme Music. Since then, he’s received three more nominations for the series — plus one for “The Underground Railroad” and two more for “Andor.” It’s safe to say the TV Academy’s music branch is responding well to Britell’s melodies, but they have yet to honor his work in this category. Let’s fix that, shall we? While Gustavo Santaolalla’s stirring score in “The Last of Us” is both endearing and enduring, Britell’s thematic evolution across “Succession” reached new heights in Season 4
Best Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour)
No, but it’s close.
Among “Succession’s” massive nominations haul, Episode 3, “Connor’s Wedding,” was recognized five times on its own — a fitting tally for a monumental entry, executed in unique fashion. So much had to come together to make Logan Roy’s departure land with the enormity it did, and mixers Andy Kris, Nicholas Renbeck, Ken Ishii, and Tommy Vicari found just the right balance of raw dialogue, evocative music, and stark silence to do just that. If they end up winning, they deserve it — but I’ve got to give the edge to “The Last of Us” team. The premiere episode is nominated, which means voters have to consider how Marc Fishman, Kevin Roache, and Michael Playfair’s mix incorporated so many practical and created sounds, in addition to striking a similarly charged emotional balance. It’s a long, dense, complicated entry of its own, with so many different locations to establish and so many genre elements to get right. They nailed it.
Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Yet another category completely taken over by two shows, the Guest Actress race pits your favorite pop-in characters from “Succession” against those from “The Last of Us.” The latter selections hue closer to the category’s intent — one-off performances that elevate an entire episode, if not season and series — since Melanie Lynskey’s Kathleen, Anna Torv’s Tess, and Storm Reid’s Riley likely won’t return for future seasons. (At least, not in the same way the “Succession” stars kept building from past seasons.) I’m a big fan of Lynskey’s vengeful sister in “The Last of Us” — a leader who doesn’t want to be a leader yet wields her assumed power with unsettling tenacity — and Storm Reid is even better in her flashback episode than in all of “Euphoria.”
Meanwhile, the “Succession” nominees likely wouldn’t be here if not for their past performances (and the show’s obsessive fanbase). Hiam Abbass is being considered for Episode 4, “Honeymoon States,” where her biggest scene involves Marcia telling off her deceased husband’s mistress mid-wake. Cherry Jones is up for her only appearance in Season 4 — the premiere, when she pits the Roy kids against their father in a bidding war over Nan Pierce’s PGM — and Harriet Walter is considered for Episode 9, “Church and State,” featuring Caroline’s greatest moment: arranging for all of Logan’s ex-lovers to sit together in the front row at his funeral. These aren’t the greatest acting challenges, but each actor still serves their role quite well.
Somehow, this is Abbass’ first Emmy nomination, so if we’re going to hand one of these “Succession” stars a Series Achievement Emmy, I’d vote for her. But if we go by the book and consider just the episodes on the ballot, I’d vote Lynskey.
Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Another category with only two shows for six slots? And they’re the same two shows that took over the Guest Actress race? Good Lord, Emmy voters. Can you please watch a little more TV?
I’m gonna be honest here, folks: “Babe” is one of my all-time favorite films, so I don’t know if I can vote against Farmer Hoggett — especially when Cromwell is being so very un-Farmer Hoggett-like in “Succession.” As Ewan Roy, his delivery of Logan’s defining eulogy is simply incredible. Rarely has a speech been so electric and so vulnerable all at once, and amid a slew of memorable moments at the pulpit, no one is more powerful than Ewan — not even the Roy siblings.
Cromwell’s competition, however, is considerable: Murray Bartlett and Nick Offerman helped create one of the year’s most talked about TV episodes, each one contributing immensely to the series as a whole despite appearing in just one hour. Oh, this is hard! I can’t decide! Don’t make me! OK, fine, fine: I’ll stick with Cromwell on a technicality: Since I can’t vote for Bartlett and Offerman, rather than distinguish one romantic partner over the other, I’ll give Cromwell his second Emmy. He certainly deserves it, even if others may feel Offerman deserves it more.
Best Contemporary Costumes for a Series
“Succession” probably shouldn’t win, but it would be a larger victory if it did.
Michelle Matland, the “Succession” costume designer, is a three-time Emmy nominee in this category. In 2004, she was up for “Angels in America,” and in 2011, she was nominated for “Mildred Pierce.” She lost both times — to the made-for-TV remake of “The Lion in the Winter” and “Downton Abbey,” respectively — so one could easily argue she’s long overdue a victory. Yet while she was certainly deserving then, I can’t posit the same now, not when “Wednesday” (Colleen Atwood) and “Emily in Paris” (Marylin Fitoussi) are both strutting their flamboyant stuff. “Succession” puts quite a bit of consideration into its characters’ clothing, and I’d love to see an Emmy given to beautiful work subtly done in complete service to the story — Matland once said, “The point is to use the costumes in a way that is not disturbing the storytelling.” But the costumes simply do heavier lifting in other shows; serving the story while standing out as entertainment centerpieces.
Best Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program
“Poker Face’s” eighth episode, “The Orpheus Syndrome,” is designed as an homage to creature features, and thus leans on incredible puppets, props, and practical effects. The production design is the hour’s strongest attribute — and I’m including a wonderfully growly Nick Nolte performance — so it deserves the Emmy over “Succession’s” election night entry, “America Decides.” (That being said, “The Last of Us” is also nominated here, for its second episode, “Infected,” which is heavy on literal world-building. Production designer John Paino, who’s been nominated four times now, could easily win.)
Best Writing for a Drama Series
Somehow, some way, no, “Succession” should not win this Emmy.
You know it’s a stacked category when the lowest ranking contenders are still among the year’s best TV shows. Apologies to “Bad Sisters,” “Andor,” and “The Last of Us,” but this is a fight between two of TV’s best-ever dramas (and you freshmen just aren’t there yet). “Succession” is nominated for Episode 3, “Connor’s Wedding,” written by series creator and showrunner Jesse Armstrong. But “Better Call Saul” is nominated twice: “Point and Shoot,” penned by Gordon Smith, is the Season 6B premiere episode (where Lalo tries to get the drop on Gus, shortly after killing Howard), while “Saul Gone,” written by Peter Gould, is the series finale.
When it comes to predicting a winner, “Better Call Saul” could split the vote, though I’m not sure that’ll happen: Emmy voters tend to favor showrunners and creators, as well as series premieres and finales, which makes “Succession’s” choice to submit the episode where Logan dies instead of the series finale a curious one. I don’t expect it to bite Armstrong at the Emmys, but it will here: I’m voting for “Saul Gone,” in part because I don’t believe “Connor’s Wedding” to be the best written episode of “Succession” Season 4 (that would be Episode 9, “Church and State”), but also because “Better Call Saul” is exquisitely written, from the big structural choices to the more granular decisions in dialogue. “Connor’s Wedding” is a great example of how a writer’s decision can benefit the whole season. “Saul Gone” is a great example of, well, everything.
Best Directing for a Drama Series
Another strong class of nominees, but this time “Succession” takes it: What Mark Mylod did for “Connor’s Wedding” wowed everyone, even before he explained it. With everything we now know, it’s hard to imagine crowning anyone else. (And Mylod has never won! He earned it!)
Best Editing for a Drama Series
“Succession” took home the Best Editing Emmy for Season 2, so despite its three nominations here, I have to favor “Better Call Saul” — a series that has yet to win a single Emmy. If AMC’s critical darling notches its first victory here, for Skip Macdonald’s work on the finale, pity won’t play a factor. The 2014 winner for “Breaking Bad” played a whole new game on the prequel. Its methodical pacing, devotion to character, and studious construction are second to none, even when up against a giant like “Succession” (and nominees Jane Rizzo, Bill Henry, and Ken Eluto).
Best Casting in a Drama Series
This year, if Avy Kaufman wins her fourth Emmy (and third for “Succession”), I certainly won’t be upset. The Waystar-Royco group is an incredible ensemble, right up there with the best casts ever assembled, and plenty of minor figures played major parts in the final season’s success. (Alexander Skarsgård, Justin Kirk, and Ashley Zukerman, just to name a few.) But I must echo my unfulfilled demands from last year: This is “Yellowjackets’” Emmy. Junie Lowry Johnson and Libby Goldstein assembled a pitch-perfect cast of characters not once, but twice (adults + teens), and considering Sophie Nélisse’s MVP turn in Season 2, the casting director’s efforts are only looking stronger with time.
Best Actress in a Drama Series
Do I even need to bother explaining this one? OK, OK, fine. After two years losing in the Supporting Actress category, Sarah Snook joined her onscreen siblings in the Lead race this year. Now, she better win. Her final season was a showcase from start to finish. Would I be mad if Keri Russell won her overdue Emmy this year? Actually, yes, a little bit — mainly because it would be absurd to accept that the history books would list her as a Best Actress winner for “The Diplomat” instead of “The Americans,” but also because it would mean another indelible TV performance would go Emmy-less. (In case it’s not obvious, that would be Snook’s.)
Best Actor in a Drama Series
(No, “Succession” should not win Best Actor.)
Slime Puppies and Ken’s Dolls won’t want to hear this, but neither Kieran Culkin nor Jeremy Strong should win Best Actor this year. And no, I’m not #TeamLogan either. In his final year of contention, for his sixth nomination as an actor, it’s time to give Bob Odenkirk his rightful prize. Sorry Roy boys, that’s just the way I see it.
Best Drama Series
It was the only good show on television! Of course it deserves the honor of Best Drama Series — and yes, I know it’s won twice before. Three wins would tie it for sixth-most ever — “Game of Thrones,” “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law,” “Mad Men,” and “The West Wing” all won four times, while “The Defenders,” “Dragnet,” “Playhouse 90,” and “Upstairs Downstairs” all won Best Drama Series three times. Within that mix makes for a fitting slot in history for “Succession.” Not quite “Mad Men,” but certainly better than “Dragnet.” Technically, it would have more wins than “Breaking Bad” and “The Sopranos,” which each have two, and while I’m not saying “Succession” deserves that level of respect, it does deserve the conversation. Emmys, don’t mess this up.
Final Tally: “Succession” should win six (6) Emmys at the 2023 Emmys (out of 15 categories and 27 nominations). Six wins would set a new seasonal best for the series and bring its all-time count to 19 Emmy statues.