The 2016 Primetime Emmy nominations announcement is just days away, and one category many will be looking to is Best Drama Series.
The Drama Series award may seem like it's in the bag for HBO's Game of Thrones, but the nominations could provide for some interesting surprises and omissions.
Last year's nominees included winner AMC's Better Call Saul, PBS' Downton Abbey, Showtime's Homeland, Netflix's House of Cards, AMC's Mad Men, Netflix's Orange Is the New Black and eventual winner Game of Thrones. Mad Men is the only show that ended last year, so it is the only show not eligible to return this year.
Will all six shows return for this year's slots? It's possible, but anything can happen at the Emmys. Here are our predictions for the Best Drama Series nominees this year.
1. Game of Thrones
Not only is Game of Thrones the most popular show in the world, it is also the defending Best Drama Series champion at the Emmys. Season 5 was the show's first Series win at the Emmys, with nominations for the first four seasons as well. Season 6 just ended with huge critical praise in addition to amazing ratings, so Game of Thrones is definitely the surest lock of the category.
2. House of Cards
House of Cards continues to score major nominations every year, even if it hasn't nabbed the big Series win just yet. Season 4 featured many big moments for the show including an assassination attempt, which could woo Emmy voters. Also, this being a political election year combined with Netflix's meteoric rise as a major television player should give House of Cards another nomination in this category.
3. Downton Abbey
Emmy voters love Downton Abbey. This has been a truth universally acknowledged since the show began, with multiple actors getting nominated including Maggie Smith, who has won twice for her scene-stealing role. The PBS drama has officially concluded its final season, which means this is voters' opportunity to reward it with nominations one last time.
4. Better Call Saul
The potential awards success of Better Call Saul was not known before nominations last year, but it did very well, scoring a Drama Series nomination. The Breaking Bad spinoff may not be as pulse-pounding as its predecessor, but voters seem to be taken with the show's atmosphere and great performances. As long as voters don't suddenly fall out of love with the show, it should get another nomination here.
Some may forget that Homeland actually won Best Drama Series for its first season, but it's true. The series has been hot and cold with the Emmys overall, dropping out of this category for its critically panned third season, but ultimately coming back for season 4 last year. It seems that the show is on a rebound at this point, and as one of Showtime's most well known dramas, we're predicting another nomination this year - though it's possible that it could be dropped.
6. Orange Is the New Black
Orange Is the New Black is a huge question mark going into this year's nominations. The prison dramedy burst onto the scene with 12 nominations for its first season, where it competed as a comedy. But when the Television Academy forced it to compete as a drama for season 2, its total dropped to a middling four nominations, including Drama Series. Based on this, it's not clear if voters truly love the show enough to keep nominating it year after year, but we think the fourth season premiering during Emmy voting should help it enough to get another nomination.
7. Mr. Robot
There are dozens of shows fighting for this final spot, but we think it will go to the critically acclaimed USA drama Mr. Robot. We've seen critics and the industry already embracing the web hacker drama for its first season, with a SAG nomination for star Rami Malek, a WGA Award win and several critic award wins. Considering it's completely untested at the Emmys, we have it in this seventh slot, but the evidence of industry support puts it a step above other shows competing here.
Other shows that could get into Best Drama Series include FX's The Americans, LouisCK.net's Horace and Pete, Showtime's Billions, WGN America's Underground, Starz's Outlander, CBS' The Good Wife and HBO's The Leftovers.
The Emmy nominations will be announced July 14.