May 26 – 31, 2023 was a critical period in Emmys history. Awards darlings “Ted Lasso,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Succession,” and “Barry” all concluded within a few days of each other, just in time to qualify for the 75th annual Emmy Awards and the final season they would all compete for awards. “Better Call Saul” ended in 2022 and will join “Succession” in contention for multiple drama categories. Though the Emmys themselves are yet to come (postponed until at least January 2024 due to the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes), these shows will leave behind glaring gaps across nominated categories, opening the door for new shows to step into the limelight.
But which shows will make the leap? New ones have the strongest chance of gaining nominations and wins based on debut momentum (this year’s include “Shrinking,” “Wednesday,” and “Jury Duty,” among others) but these days there’s no shortage of quality TV across genres. Previous Emmy darlings’ graduating out of eligibility could make room for perennially nominated but overlooked shows to gain more attention. On the drama side, “The Crown” and “Stranger Things” both have new seasons coming and will likely hold onto legacy spots, and “Yellowjackets” is two-for-two in nominations for Outstanding Drama Series since it premiered. Disney’s “Andor” and “The Mandalorian” have both broken into the category, but “Andor” will only have one more season and “The Mandalorian” was shut out this year. “Severance” and “Squid Game” will also return, their second seasons likely determining their longevity in the awards mix (“Bridgerton” Season 1 was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series while Season 2 wasn’t).
On the comedy side, “Abbott Elementary,” “The Bear,” and “Only Murders in the Building” are all sophomore shows likely to remain fixtures in contention for Outstanding Comedy Series (this round of “The Bear” nominations are for Season 1 and “Only Murders” are for Season 2, with Season 3 now airing). FX’s “What We Do in the Shadows” (an IndieWire favorite) has appeared in the category before, while HBO’s “Hacks” will also likely clinch a nomination when it comes back. Notably, the two consecutive years “Hacks” was nominated included a wide variety of shows with little turnover; of the seven spots, only “Hacks” and “Ted Lasso” were nominated both years, while the remaining shows were entirely different year-to-year because of endings or hiatuses. That’s exactly the kind of shakeup that could pan out next Emmys season.
There’s no exact formula for Emmy-winning television, but this year’s batch of frontrunner finales were wholly original, boundary-pushing pieces of work (even “Better Call Saul,” technically a spinoff, found a fresh and excellent world within existing IP), as are their ongoing competitors. It’s noteworthy that so few Marvel and Star Wars properties have broken into the major categories, not because of any aversion to genre, but because the stories and style simply did not merit such nominations (both brands are consistently and rightfully recognized in technical awards).
This would also be an ideal time for Emmy voters to watch more diverse TV, as the aforementioned shows with majority white casts come to their conclusions. While shows themselves have been diverse in the main award categories in recent years, exceptional series like “Pose,” “Insecure,” and “Lovecraft Country” didn’t take home the biggest awards of the night. That recognition also doesn’t always translate to acting categories; this year’s lead and supporting actor categories are mostly populated by white or white-passing actors, especially drama — an unfortunate byproduct of celebrating actors from the same two mostly-white ensembles.
Like so much else with the Emmys, it comes down to what voters are watching and not watching. They have the opportunity to replace completed shows with new and exciting ones, to pick up shows they couldn’t prioritize in the past and repurpose the time once reserved for 75-minute episodes of “Ted Lasso.” The Emmy rules continue to change, and finding ways to recognize even more great TV is a key priority. As one door — or several — closes, others will open, and new stars will illuminate the future of television.