This year EW is here to help with our first-ever For Your Consideration issue. We have curated the bajillion shows and performances (give or take a million) eligible for Emmy nominations to help voters select their top picks. Consider this a sneak peek into the nomination process and an early guide to the awards, which air Sept. 18 on ABC.
For the second installment of the Emmy-winning anthology series based on Joel and Ethan Coen’s snowcapped classic, showrunner Noah Hawley wanted to go epic. “Our success was based on the risks we took, so to take more risks felt like the right recipe,” he says. “We took a bigger swing, told a bigger story.” Indeed: Over the course of 10 episodes, a triple murder ballooned, absorbing dozens of characters across three states, including the hapless Blumquists, the heroic Solversons, the bloodthirsty Gerhardts, and wild cards like Mike Milligan (a breakout Bokeem Woodbine). Every bombastic twist — yes, even the UFOs — highlighted the unstable rise of disenfranchised Americans in the late 1970s. And if all that sounds too lofty for a darkly comedic crime drama, it’s not.
American Crime (ABC)
In its sophomore year, the anthology drama focused on the alleged rape of a male high schooler by a classmate and wove an intricate tale of teenage sexual politics, racial discrimination, and class struggle — all without losing a single thread. Buoyed by breakout performances from its young cast, American Crime spared no one as it bared uncomfortable institutional truths.
Show Me a Hero (HBO)
By creating empathetic portraits of people on both sides of the real-life public-housing dispute in Yonkers, N.Y., during the 1980s, executive producers Paul Haggis and David Simon turned a wonky political debate into a deeply human story, one whose lessons about race and class are still all too relevant today.
American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)
The latest iteration of Ryan Murphy’s annual spookfest was an often gruesome, sex-filled stew of bloodsuckers (led by Lady Gaga’s the Countess), killers, and ghosts all cohabiting in the titular dwelling. But by the finale, Hotel grew into an unexpectedly touching depiction of life and death.
The Night Manager (AMC)
This gorgeous adaptation of the John le Carré novel showcased luscious scenery and an intriguing cat-and-mouse game between Hugh Laurie’s Richard Roper and Tom Hiddleston’s man of many names. Espionage has never looked this grand on the small screen.
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX)
This miniseries took the defining media and cultural moment of the past quarter century in America and turned it into a trenchant, bravura event, one that has raised the bar for scripted true-crime TV. Featuring a Dream Team of fascinating characters, the courtroom drama was pure pleasure…and not of the guilty variety.