Emmys 2017: Your guide to the best US TV drama

We are, as we are regularly told, in a golden age of TV – and the cream of the current crop will be rewarded when this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards are handed out in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Five of the seven nominees in the most keenly contested category – outstanding drama series – are new shows.

Game of Thrones, which has won for the past two years, is not eligible this time.

With so many new shows having made a splash over the past year, you’d be forgiven for not having caught up with them all.

Here’s a rundown of the best American TV drama series, as per the Emmy best drama category.


Westworld

Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton

In a nutshell: A Wild West theme park is populated with life-like robots programmed to indulge the every whim of wealthy tourists.

As the visitors live out their fantasies and the “hosts” behave in unexpected ways, the show explores the nature of consciousness and humanity itself.

Total 2017 Emmy nominations: 22

Made by: HBO


Stranger Things

Stars: Winona Ryder, Millie Bobby Brown, David Harbour

In a nutshell: A feast of ’80s nostalgia and supernatural thrills, the show follows a group of bike-riding boys who stumble upon some terrifying paranormal goings-on in their small town.

Contains shadowy government agents, monsters and portals to another dimension.

Emmy nominations: 18

Made by: Netflix


The Crown

Stars: Claire Foy, Matt Smith, John Lithgow

In a nutshell: The royal family has always been one big soap opera. But in The Crown it actually is one big soap opera – albeit a classy, big-budget one.

It follows the ups and downs of Queen Elizabeth II (Foy), Prince Philip (Smith) and their clan from the 1950s on.

Emmy nominations: 13

Made by: Netflix


The Handmaid’s Tale

Stars: Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Ann Dowd

In a nutshell: In a dystopian alternate reality, there’s been a fertility crisis and a chilling fundamentalist religious revolution in the US.

All fertile women are handmaids – slaves whose sole purpose is to bear children for their powerful host families. Adapted from Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel.

Emmy nominations: 13

Made by: Hulu


This Is Us

Stars: Sterling K Brown, Milo Ventimiglia, Chrissy Metz

In a nutshell: More domestic than the other nominees but no less dramatic, the show switches between 1980 and 2016 and centres on several people who are 36 on the same day.

We follow a dad who’s 36 when his wife goes into labour in 1980, and their twins and adopted son 36 years later.

Emmy nominations: 10

Made by: NBC


Better Call Saul

Stars: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn

In a nutshell: While all of the above are new shows, this Breaking Bad spin-off/prequel is three seasons in.

It follows the scrapes and schemes of dodgy lawyer Jimmy McGill as he teeters along the straight and narrow and edges closer to becoming Breaking Bad’s Saul Goodman.

Emmy nominations: 9

Made by: AMC


House of Cards

Stars: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly

In a nutshell: The veteran of the pack, House of Cards has been nominated for best drama series five years in a row.

Season five saw Spacey’s Shakespearean president and his wife and political ally/rival Claire (Wright) grapple with the fallout of a disputed election.

Emmy nominations: 7

Made by: Netflix

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards begin on Sunday at 17:00 Los Angeles time (Monday 01:00 BST).


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