WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: FX’s Cold War drama saved the best for last with a nail-bitingly tense, elegantly melancholy final season. As the noose tightened around Soviet spies Philip and Elizabeth’s necks, the show only got better, expertly tying up loose plot threads and kicking into overdrive with a heartbreaking series finale that already belongs in the TV Hall of Fame. All we can say is: Spasibo. (That’s Russian for “thank you.”)
GAME OF THRONES
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: It may not have been the show’s most evenly paced season (exactly how long does it take to get from Eastwatch to Dragonstone?), but with so many long-awaited events executed to near perfection — Viscerion’s rebirth! Jon Snow meets Daenerys! “I want her to know it was me!” — Game of Thrones‘ seventh outing gave fervent fans (and hopefully Emmy voters) plenty to chew on.
THE GOOD FIGHT
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: CBS All Access’ Good Wife spinoff delivered a second season far superior to its first on almost every level. But it was the drama’s satirical and at times eerily prescient take on all things Trump that earned it a spot on our Emmy short list. This will go down as the season The Good Fight officially became great.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: By Season 7, most TV shows are running on fumes, but Showtime’s veteran spy thriller managed to get a second wind, delivering its most satisfying season in years. Plotlines about Russian meddling and fake news felt terrifyingly current, and Claire Danes’ Carrie was forced to confront the damage that all her manic terrorist chasing has done to her young daughter Franny. Homeland hasn’t actually won an Emmy since Season 2, but Carrie and company have earned another shot at the big prize.
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: Not only did BBC America’s deliriously fun freshman series upend the usual crime-drama formula by adding sharp humor and a feminist bent, but it also gave us two of the year’s very best performances from Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer. Oh’s intelligence analyst and Comer’s cold-blooded assassin circled each other all season long in a riveting game of cat-and-mouse, leading up to a spectacular showdown. Man… the wait for Season 2 is going to kill us, isn’t it?
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: True — not everything about Season 2 of the Duffer Brothers’ 1980s mash-up was, as its protagonists would put it, totally tubular. (“Chapter Seven,” anyone?) But you’d have to be a real mouth breather to not consider bitchin’ the nine exceptionally tense episodes that included Dart’s metamorphosis, Bob the Brain’s death, Dustin and Steve’s bromance and the culmination of Nancy and Jonathan’s flirtation. Oh, and the Snow Ball — that wasn’t just worthy of an Emmy, it was worthy of John Hughes.
THIS IS US
WHY IT DESERVES A NOD: The tearjerker’s stellar sophomore season nimbly navigated right up to — and then gracefully dealt with the aftermath of — Jack’s tragic death. (Thinking about Rebecca looking at her husband’s lifeless body from that hospital room doorway still gets us all choked-up.) A trio of episodes gave stars Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz and Sterling K. Brown opportunities for deep character work. An hour centered on Deja took a risk that played out beautifully and cemented Lyric Ross’ place among the powerhouse cast. Even before the season-ending flash-forwards, the NBC drama was on our 2018 Emmys short list.