10 best drama series of the 21st century, according to the Emmys

The 2000s saw some of the best drama series in television history. Popular dramas of this century differ in genre, tone, and era. From anthology horror to R-rated fantasy and historical fiction, the drama category has never been more diverse. Competition in the television landscape is fierce, and critics and audiences don’t always agree on which series deserves the most accolades.


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The Emmy Awards are the annual awards show dedicated to recognizing the most outstanding achievements in television, with a voting body made up of members of the Television Academy. The Academy has hailed some series with more nominations and statues than others, making it clear what they consider the best of the best. TV fans might be surprised by some of the drama series that have garnered the most Emmys attention in the 21st century.

ten Stranger Things rocked the Emmys

by Netflix stranger things is one of the most popular shows on the streaming platform. Millions of fans tune in each season to watch Eleven and her companions battle the monsters of the Upside Down. The five-season series features a charismatic cast of young actors, ’80s movie nostalgia, and gripping action sequences.

Emmy voters and fans are united in their adoration of this sci-fi drama. stranger things has garnered more than 51 nominations since it began airing in 2016, including multiple nominations in the Outstanding Drama Series and Supporting Actor categories. Although the show has yet to win the top prize, stranger things brought home about ten statues for technical realization.

9 The Mandalorian Aims For Awards Glory

Sci-fi and genre media have often gone unrecognized at awards shows, but The Mandalorian seeks to change that. The Disney+ series is part of the star wars universe and stars Pedro Pascal as the titular hero. Fans eagerly responded to the masked hero’s adventures alongside his lovable sidekick, Grogu.

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The Emmys also took notice of the young series, which premiered in 2020. The Mandalorian has already garnered 39 nominations and 14 wins for its first two seasons, including back-to-back nominations for Outstanding Drama.

8 Breaking Bad crossed over to the drama category

CMA breaking Bad defined the anti-hero protagonist of 21st century drama series. The show follows chemistry professor Walter White as he grows from a mild-mannered family man to the kingpin of a meth empire. Over its five seasons, the crime drama brought fame to Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.

The show was often recognized during the Emmy Awards season with 58 nominations overall. Among these candidates, breaking Bad earned 16 wins, including multiple wins in the Outstanding Drama Series category, as well as awards for Cranston and Paul.

seven American Horror Story scared off the nominations

american horror story has been haunting television screens for years. The anthology series took fear seekers to mental asylums, haunted mansions and carnival tents. Although each season tells a unique horror story, the series draws inspiration from a cast of actors who weave together characters and settings from previous seasons.

american horror story has dominated the Outstanding Anthology or Limited Series category for years, amassing over 100 nominations over the past decade. The series has garnered more than just nominations and has, so far, received 16 statues.

6 Mad Men sold out to Academy voters

Mad Men is another mid-2000s drama that will go down in history as a television classic. The period drama set in 1960s New York focused on employees of the fictional advertising company Sterling Cooper. The nerd series paid meticulous attention to detail in its fidelity to the retro period and made frontman Jon Hamm a star.

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The Emmys bought what Mad Men was selling out and rewarded the series with 116 nominations. During its seven seasons, Mad Men won 16 awards, including four for Outstanding Drama Series.

5 American Crime Story stole the hearts and minds of Emmy voters

American crime history is another anthology series from creator Ryan Murphy who launched the series after the success of the american horror story franchise. Each season of American crime history covers a different criminal event from different periods of American history.

Like its gruesome sister franchise, American crime history is also no stranger to accolades. The series has 45 nominations in the Outstanding Anthology or Limited Series categories. The first season, centered on the trial of OJ Simpson, was the highest-grossing individual, with nine wins out of 19 overall for the series.

4 Boardwalk Empire brought prestige to the Emmys

Boardwalk Empire marked the beginning of the talent migration from movie stars to television. The highly produced HBO series starred Steve Buscemi in the lead role and boasted a pilot episode directed by series executive producer Martin Scorsese. Boardwalk Empire was a lush period drama set in the American prohibition era of the 1920s.

The expensive cast of the drama and movie star ensemble didn’t go unnoticed by the Television Academy, which granted Boardwalk Empire 57 applications. The show won 20 Emmys, mostly in the production and technical categories.

3 24 clocked in impressive Emmy run

These days, the most critically acclaimed drama series are often found on cable or streaming networks. But in the early 2000s, network dramas still ruled the airwaves and award shows. The action series 24 airing on Fox and starring Kiefer Sutherland as counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer. Each episode covered a single hour of Bauer’s life, and the nine-season series was a date for years to come.

24 was more than just an audience favorite and saw 68 Emmy nominations during its run. The series recorded just under its namesake with 20 wins, including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Sutherland.

2 The Crown rules the Emmys

by Netflix The crown is undeniably a flagship series of the 21st century. The period drama follows the life and times of former monarch Queen Elizabeth II with fictional storylines drawn from real events. The show is notable for rotating its cast of hard-hitting British actors every two seasons as time passes in the show’s world and the characters age.

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This prestige drama is beautifully produced and is one of Netflix’s most expensive series. The budget is worth it in terms of attention to rewards, and The crown has garnered 63 nominations and 21 wins to date. Its changing cast of actors is most often recognized with statues to portray real-life politicians and royals.

1 Game Of Thrones conquers the 21st century

When it comes to the best dramas of this century, there’s one show that burns the competition. HBO’s juggernaut series has kept critics and fans hooked on the political wrangling and battlegrounds of Westeros for eight seasons. The Television Academy confirms that game of thrones is the true king of TV drama, and the show has garnered a staggering 160 nominations.

The fantasy series’ wins leave the competition in the dust, with an untouchable 59 Emmy Awards. game of thrones has been recognized as an Outstanding Drama Series four times, with additional wins for the sprawling ensemble cast and immense technical achievements. The Emmys have made it clear which show they believe is the best of the century.

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