Emmys 2016 Drama Series

Emmys 2016: Outstanding Drama Series — Our 7 Dream Nominees!

At risk of waking the fire-breathing dragons* that live in the comments sections of the Internet, it is time for TVLine to begin its vociferous annual advocacy period known as Dream Emmy Nominees season. (*Yep, Game of Thrones fans, our picks won’t have you inviting us to a Red Wedding-style soiree.)

We’re kicking things off with the Outstanding Drama Series category, which went to HBO’s sprawling fantasy drama in 2015, following a two-year dominance by Breaking Bad.

After some ferocious debate (and a couple of strongly worded Instant Message exchanges), we’ve chosen a pair of dazzling newcomers, along with four exquisite series that have been uniformly snubbed from the Emmys‘ Drama Series dance, to join last year’s winner in a massive (and perhaps overdue?) shakeup of the category.

Did we actually snub 2015 nominees Homeland, House of Cards, Downton Abbey, Better Call Saul and Orange Is the New Black from our list of Dream Nominees? We did — and we accept your harsh Tweets of rebuke in advance! (Mad Men, also in the 2015 race for its final season, isn’t eligible this year.)

Check out the gallery below — or click here for direct access — then tell us if our picks warrant a “Yesss!,” “Noooo!” or trip to the guillotine!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Brian says:

    Glad to see Bates Motel & Jessica Jones getting some love.

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  2. webly3 says:

    I love these nominations. My dream nominations are almost the same. If I had to change one thing, I’d put Better Call Saul in instead of Marvel’s Jessica Jones (which was still fantastic). Also, I’d probably include OITNB instead of Bates Motel (but I’m way too biased about OITNB). I can’t wait to see the other noms. I always enjoy this list every year. Emmy voters should seriously look at TVLine’s lists to know who to actually nom. I will be so upset this year when The Americans, The Leftovers, and Penny Dreadful are inevitably ignored.

  3. MrScreenAddict says:

    Oh god. Normally I would say any list without UnREAL on it is automatically invalid, but I watch all seven of those shows and love them all and have no idea which one I would swap out for it. Gun to my head I’d say lose Penny Dreadful — but make sure to still honor Eva Green in the Best Actress category as consolation.

  4. matty says:

    I cannot believe you didn’t include the final season of The Good Wife which went out in grand style.

  5. RobTO says:

    I can’t say I can really agree with these choices. House of Cards really deserves some attention for its stellar 4th season. It got a nomination last year for a very mediocre season so for it to not get a nomination in its best season since season 1 would be criminal.

    My picks:

    Better Call Saul
    Game of Thrones
    House of Cards
    Mr. Robot
    Penny Dreadful

    • webly3 says:

      Do you watch The Leftovers? You really need to watch that show. (if you don’t like the first episode, I didn’t either. It gets so much better.)

      • RobTO says:

        I haven’t seen The Leftovers yet, I was going to check it out after its first season finished, but I heard very questionable things about so I passed on watching it. I’m only hearing great things about season 2 though so I’m definitely going to check it out at some point!

    • The Beach says:

      I agree with you about House of Cards. This season was excellent, thanks in great part to Claire. I haven’t yet watched Jessica Jones but I plan to when I can binge. I would add Bates Motel and especially The Americans which I think is the best drama on TV. I guess it’s all subjective after all but try as I may, I just don’t love The Leftovers. I’ve watched both season and while I admire the acting and some other aspects, it just doesn’t make my Top Five.

  6. Lala says:

    Yes to Bates Motel, Jessica Jones and Game of Thrones FTW definitely.
    I would love to see HTGAWM nominated. Season 2 was even more superior to season 1.
    Even though TGW had it’s finale season…it does not deserve to be nominated. Very disappointing finale.

    • Jorf says:

      HTGAWM has been dipping in quality in my opinion especially when it came back for the final 5 or 6 episodes after the break. Viola Davis is still at the top of her game, but the rest is not that great. I really just wish it would stop focusing so much on boring and whiny Wes.

      • Lala says:

        I beg to differ, the development of Wes & Annalise’s characters this season was great. I hope the other characters can be further developed as well in the next season. I just hope they stop referring to all that rebecca, sam, lila stuff from season 1 though..

  7. Angela says:

    .Glad to see “Bates Motel” on your list. Seriously hoping that show and the actors get some love from the Emmys this year. They deserve it.

  8. ndixit says:

    I never get why Jessica Jones is treated as some second coming. Yes, the show is interesting and has some kickass female characters and a great villain, but it is also painfully slow and some of the subplots dragged on forever.

  9. Lala says:

    It’s unfair to compare dramas on these two platforms…so the Emmys need this category broken down to;
    -Best Drama Series – Network
    -Best Drama Series – Cable

    • Abubs says:

      Umm…. No. Can you give a LOGICAL reason why? Besides the “we can’t watch it if we don’t pay for Netflix” argument which is so not valid. CBS is going to start offering a pay subscription service, should their shows be exempt too? Not everyone will be able to watch all of their shows soon.
      So give us another, VALID reason please.

      • Lala says:

        Who said anything about paying! No one cares about paying for netflix/cable etc Any show you want to watch, you can get online free. How about you stop babbling nonsense & just ask why in a civilized fashion??
        …..my reason is Broadcast shows will always fall short to cable in terms of quality. Mostly it’s because cables shows have so much more freedom with their content, shorter seasons and fewer censorship constraints…unlike network shows. You look at a show like The Blacklist or HTGAWM, they are incredible dramas that have had constant critical acclaim but how can these shows compete for the same awards with juggernauts like Game of Thrones/ House of Cards/Homeland; shows that are created under far fewer constraints than broadcast series. It’s an unfair comparison… I don’t care if you think it’s valid or not!

  10. Diane says:

    Outlander should also be nominated! Really people? It’s had some outstanding moments and actors like Tobias Menzies, Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan have delivered significant performances.

  11. Steven says:

    Jessica Jones
    The Good Wife
    How to Get Away With Murder
    The X Files
    Bates Motel

  12. Brent says:

    Marvel’s Jessica Jones
    Orange Is The New Black
    Mr. Robot
    House of Cards
    11.22.63 (so underrated)
    The Walking Dead (even though it’ll never happen)
    The Americans (which should win and it shouldn’t even be close.)

  13. Ally Oop says:

    I havent gotten to watch several of these shows yet. Of the shows I do watch, the ones that I found the best (not necessarily favourite as some of my favourites are admittedly not of such great quality) were Vikings, Outlander, Orphan Black, Call the Midwife, Poldark, Downton Abbey and The 100.

  14. Jax&Juice's Girl says:

    Mr. Robot and Game of Thrones. But with GoT season 6 so far I won’t be surprised if they get the win.

  15. peterwdawson says:

    I’d have probably dropped Bates Motel or Penny Dreadful but I absolutely get why those made the dream nominee list.

  16. Kevin K says:

    Hope GoT should dominate again like it did last year.

  17. CalebFillion says:

    Yep, totally agree with your list. Plus, I hope The Good Wife gets nominated for best visual fx. That Archi Panjabi hologram was awesome.

  18. Greatness is usually overlooked says:

    Yes, yes, 1000 times yes to Bates and it’s amazing cast!!!! I SO hope it will get some recognition, but I am SURE the Emmys will go with the boring, traditional, lazy noms and winners it usually goes with

  19. Aly says:

    Ahh, I came here to comment that Penny Dreadful should be one of the nominees, only to find that you’ve included it already! So pleased…the show has been amazing with its characters, the storyline progressions and its cinematography. I also totally agree with Jessica Jones and Bates Motel, though I’d like to see House of Cards on here.

  20. Nick says:

    What a great list! I’ve really enjoyed all these shows, especially Penny Dreadful and the Leftovers. I get choked up every time I even think about that sign language scene on the bridge…”you understand”.

  21. George H. says:

    All those are great shows, and even though I like them all, I think Mr. Robot stands out above the others. I binged it in less than 2 days, lost sleep because I couldn’t stop watching it.

  22. Bates Motel definitely deserves it. Vera and Freddy also deserve Emmys.

  23. Karen says:

    For once, I totally agree with all choices as they are all shows I watch and enjoy. Which means most of them will never be on the Emmy’s list. I’m glad that you recognized what great TV is though. And for those who don’t watch any one of these shows, do a binge and you’ll see what’s up. Even if you don’t think they should be on the Emmy list, you’ll see that there is great stuff on TV.

  24. Spence says:

    The only show here that I don’t watch is, sadly, Penny Dreadful. So I wholeheartedly agree with every nominee on this list, especially Bates Motel and most definitely the Americans. Both manage to up the intensity, writing, acting and directing every single season and both have had glorious fourth seasons this year. It would be a crime if they aren’t nominated.

  25. Anna says:

    My dream nominee list:

    – Game of Thrones
    – Better Call Saul
    – Bates Motel
    – Penny Dreadful
    – Black Sails
    – Orphan Black
    – Outlander

  26. Joey Padron says:

    Hope UnReal, Bates Motel, Mr.Robot, and Better Call Saul will get nominated for best drama series!

  27. Amanda says:

    I totally agree with “Jessica Jones” and would love to see it nominated. As for me besides “Jessica” I’d like for “Bloodline” season 2, “Orphan Black”, and “Penny Dreadful” as well. “Downton Abbey” will probably get one and I loved that show too. I don’t watch the others posted but know they have a lot of fans and critic praise too, but the usual shows will probably still be nominated.

  28. Jennifer says:

    I’ve never seen ANY of these.

  29. Bryan says:

    Game of Thrones
    The 100
    The Affair
    Downton Abbey
    The Americans
    Mr. Robot

    • Lex says:

      There’s a good argument to be made that The 100 is the CW’s best drama, but this won’t be the year to look for a nomination: even with a solid finish, Lexa’s death (as well as Lincolns, to a degree) was too controversial among both fans and critics for people to overlook the CW’s teen sheen reputation, like they do for Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

      • Obviously The 100 won’t be nominated but wouldn’t it be amazing if it was? I have to disagree with your point about controversy having anything to do with it though. Last year, when Ramsey raped Sansa on GOT, it was without a doubt the most controversial moment on TV for that year. Critics and fans alike went absolutely mental. But that episode was then nominated for an Emmy! For direction, which is actually one of the main things it was criticised for (camera placement in that scene). The show then went on to win best Drama Series. The reason The 100 won’t be nominated is the same reason it wasn’t nominated last year or the year before (Its a genre show and isn’t perceived as “groundbreaking” or “classy”). I would be so happy if it WAS nominated because it is brilliant but that is ridiculously unlikely xoxo

  30. Court says:

    Really great choices. The only one I would remove is Penny Dreadful. Eva Green deserves to be nominated and possibly win, but I just can’t into the show.

    My choices would be:
    Game of Thrones
    Mr. Robot
    The Americans
    The Path
    The Affair
    House of Cards

    I haven’t seen The Leftovers or Bates Motel yet though!

  31. Lex says:

    Is Fargo season 2 ineligible? My only quibble with this list is its exclusion, though I expect Bates Motel and Jessica Jones should rock the acting categories more than best drama. I still can’t watch Ten-era Doctor Who because David Tennant’s Kilgrave scared the bejesus out of me. And here’s hoping Shiri Appleby and/or Constance Zimmer join Vera and Krysten in the best actress categories (along with the usual suspects: Viola, Taraji and Julianna).

    • Lex says:

      Edit: HOW COULD I FORGET ABOUT KERRY IN THE BEST ACTRESS CATEGORY? For me, that’s going to be the one to watch.

    • Brian says:

      Fargo is being campaigned as a mini series like it was for the first season (and won). I definitely think it should be ineligible for mini series and forced to complete as a regular drama series Even though the characters are played by different actors, it Is a continuing drama series. The finale in particular had way too much of a connection to the first season to call Fargo season 2 a mini series.

  32. Joey says:

    Please please please, remove Game of Thrones. It has been slipping in quality as it moves further and further away from the source material. Season five was horrendous, and if anything, season six is worse.
    Honestly I could go for literally any of the other nominees. They’re all fantastic.

    • Lala says:

      I don’t think critics care about source material, they take every season as it comes and season 6 is miles ahead of season 5 and I’m pretty sure GOT is going to dominate the categories again this year like it did last year.

    • maggie says:

      Game of Thrones is still one of the best shows on TV. It hasn’t slipped in quality at all.

  33. Shaun says:

    I’d swap Jessica Jones for maybe Man in the High Castle or Fargo Season 2 if still within time.

  34. Kathleen S. says:

    I agree with most of these (especially Bates Motel) but Orphan Black would have to be on my list. In my opinion, this season has been kind of awesome. And if Tat isn’t nominated for best actress, that would be a serious injustice…

  35. Pablo says:

    What a about UNREAL??

  36. N says:

    The Leftovers
    & others

  37. ToyCannon says:

    My nominees

    Game of Thrones
    Law & Order: SVU
    Madam Secretary
    Mr. Robot
    Shameless (so NOT a comedy)

  38. Cah says:

    After that terrible season 5 and whatever mess this new season has been it is laughable to see Game of Thrones on a list like this.

  39. Erin says:

    My picks:
    The Americans
    Game of Thrones
    Jessica Jones
    The Leftovers
    Orange is the New Black
    The Good Wife

  40. Tom says:

    I am still disappointed that Mr. Robot does not in fact contain a robot

  41. Jennifer says:

    What about The Catch. That show is awesome and I love watching Mireille Enos and Peter Krause are great. Their chemistry together on screen is unbelievable. The supporting cast all work together as well. With the cancellation of Castle this show has become the one to Watch for me. I don’t think they should be overlooked at all.

  42. Hege says:

    Hannibal should win. That was such a good show! And season 3 was actually pretty good. I watched it a second time and I found it to be really good.

  43. My nominees:

    Bates Motel
    The Americans
    Game of Thrones
    House of Cards
    Person of Interest
    Mr Robot
    Shameless ( i agree, not a comedy)

  44. LT says:

    THE AMERICANS is having a helluva a year! Soooo YES all around!

  45. Ro says:

    Bates Motel and Mr. Robot.

  46. Cate53 says:

    Keep meaning to catch up on Penny Dreadfuld check back in for Bates Motel, but the others are solid picks. Jessica Jones as probably my favourite but The Leftovers was stunning. I’d swap in Unreal for Mr Robot as summer shows and sneak in Orphan Black and Happy Valley for Bates M and Penny D

  47. Engweri says:

    I think the Emmys should take a page from the Teen Choice Awards and split up Drama categories with Sci Fi/Fantasy/Genre tv. A lot of great tv is unrecognized because it’s not considered as “serious” as other drama shows

  48. buckeyeamy says:

    The Blacklist and James Spader deserve Emmys!! The writing is intriguing and his acting can’t be matched! He is far superior to anyone else on TV!

  49. Ingela Adamsson says:

    Why dont I see Outlander for a nominee???

  50. Johnny Weissmuller says:

    At the moment Tha Americans is the best show on tv (streaming services included). I just can’t understand why Emmy voters are so blind not to see that.