Ranking every Emmy-nominated series from worst to first

Written by:
September 11, 2018
NBCUniversal Media

Ranking every Emmy-nominated series from worst to first

They are the topic of water-cooler talks across the country. They come into the homes of people all over the U.S. and become a part of their families. Whether binge-watched or viewed on a weekly basis, they provide excitement, laughs, and even a good heartfelt cry—all from the comfort of a couch. And on Monday, Sept. 17, they will be honored for their creativity, diversity, innovation, and excellence.

The Television Academy’s 70th Emmy Awards are right around the corner. With television overtaking movies as the format Americans get their quality entertainment fix, it’s more important than ever to recognize the achievements of TV’s best.

However, there are so many shows available on traditional broadcast networks, cable networks, and increasingly popular streaming services, it’s difficult to keep track of them all. Therefore, Stacker has compiled a list of all the TV shows that have been nominated in the Emmys’ drama series, comedy series, limited series, reality competition, structured reality program, and unstructured reality program categories. They are ranked based on their IMDb user ratings, with the number of IMDb user votes used to break any ties.

Only time will tell which shows will walk away as winners of the illustrious gold statuettes after “Saturday Night Live’s” Michael Che and Colin Jost host the 70th Emmy Awards on NBC. However, one thing is for sure—everyone is a winner when it comes to the quality of entertainment available on the television sets gracing the living rooms of 119.6 million homes in the U.S.

Read on to see which of your favorite series have been nominated for an Emmy this year.  

RELATED: Emmy nominees who have never won



1 / 37
NBC Universal Media

#37. The Voice

On air: 2011–present

Stars: Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Carson Daly, Christina Aguilera

IMDb rating: 6.6

Singers have been battling it out in front of coaches, including Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, on NBC’s “The Voice” for 14 seasons. With a 15th season set to debut this fall, the reality talent show—which is nominated for 10 Emmys—features five stages of competition, starting with blind auditions and culminating with live performances during which viewers crown a winner. The show and its coaches have helped start modestly strong singing careers for several of its contestants, including season three’s winner Cassadee Pope, whose 2013 debut album “Frame By Frame” peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Top Country Album Chart.


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All3Media America, Objective Productions

#36. United Shades of America

On air: 2016–present

Stars: W. Kamau Bell, Russell Peters, Mark Nykanen, Chad McMullan

IMDb rating: 6.7

Sociopolitical comedian W. Kamau Bell has been exploring communities across America on CNN’s “United Shades of America” for three seasons. The documentary series—which is nominated for three Emmy Awards—aims to stimulate conversation about race and how differences both unite and divide the country. Its most recent season featured visits to the U.S.-Mexico border as well as several historically black colleges and universities.


3 / 37
Renegade 83

#35. Naked and Afraid

On air: 2013–present

Stars: Michael Brown, Amanda Kaye, Amber Hargrove, E.J. Snyder

IMDb rating: 6.7

Discover Channel’s “Naked and Afraid” has been intriguing viewers for seven seasons with its concept of seeing how two people per episode survive for 21 days in the world’s harshest environments without any food, water, or clothes. The reality show has been a ratings sensation for the network since debuting in 2013, even scoring the record for the highest-rated survival telecast in Discovery Channel’s history since June 2009.


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NBC Universal Media

#34. American Ninja Warrior

On air: 2009–present

Stars: Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbajabiamila, Jenn Brown, Angela Sun

IMDb rating: 6.9

“American Ninja Warrior” has been a modest hit on NBC for seven summers. The reality show, based on the Japanese series “Sasuke,” challenges strong-willed competitors with a number of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds held across the country. The program has only seen a single competitor—Isaac Caldiero—earn the $1 million prize for completing all obstacle courses, including a grand finale modeled after Japan’s Mt. Midoriyama course.


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American Broadcasting Companies

#33. Black-ish

On air: 2014–present

Stars: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown

IMDb rating: 7.1

Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross have been playing parents trying to raise a black family in an assimilated world on ABC’s comedy “Black-ish” for four seasons. Over the course of its run, which continues with a fifth season this fall, the series has tackled a number of issues to critical acclaim—including racism, sexuality, police brutality, and the 2016 election of President Donald Trump. It has since spawned a spinoff called “Grown-ish,” which airs on Freeform.


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Bravo Cable

#32. Project Runway

On air: 2004–present

Stars: Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Michael Kors

IMDb rating: 7.3

Supermodel Heidi Klum has been hosting “Project Runway” for 16 seasons, which have aired on Bravo and Lifetime. The most recent season of the reality show, in which contestants compete to create clothing, aspired to celebrate body diversity by incorporating larger-sized models and requiring competitors to design fashionable attire for all body sizes. In addition to its three current Emmy nominations, the series won a Peabody Award in 2008 for “using the television reality contest genre to engage, inform, enlighten and entertain.”


7 / 37

#31. Antiques Roadshow

On air: 1997–present

Stars: Mark L. Walberg, Simeon Lipman, Lara Spencer, James Supp

IMDb rating: 7.4

Spanning 22 seasons so far, PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow” is the network’s most-watched ongoing series, earning an average of 8.5 million viewers each week. The reality show documents free appraisals of antiques and collectibles by specialists from auction houses and independent dealers from across the country. One of the most valuable items featured on the program was a collection of Chinese cups carved from rhinoceros horns appraised at $1–1.5 million.


8 / 37
Casey Patterson Entertainment

#30. Lip Sync Battle

On air: 2015–present

Stars: LL Cool J, Chrissy Teigen, C.J. Tyson, Carlena Britch

IMDb rating: 7.4

Having aired on Paramount Network—formerly known as Spike—for four seasons, “Lip Sync Battle” sees two celebrities per episode take the stage in a lip sync showdown. Notable challengers featured in the LL Cool J-hosted reality show’s most recent season include Taye Diggs, Tara Lipinski, Kathy Bates, Rob Schneider, and Michael Bolton. The series has spawned 15 international adaptations as well as a kid-centric spinoff on Nickelodeon titled “Lip Sync Battle Shorties.”


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MGM Television

#29. Shark Tank

On air: 2009–present

Stars: Kevin O'Leary, Phil Crowley, Robert Herjavec, Mark Cuban

IMDb rating: 7.5

Aspiring entrepreneurs present business models and products to a panel of five investors who are offered opportunities to become business partners with them in “Shark Tank,” which will be debuting its milestone 10th season this fall on ABC. Although some of the projects in which the “sharks” have invested have gone on to see great success, including sponge company Scrub Daddy—simply appearing on the program has helped some companies achieve sales increases.


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More Media

#28. Inside Look: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, American Crime Story

On air: 2017–present

Stars: Darren Criss, Penélope Cruz, Ricky Martin, Edgar Ramírez

IMDb rating: 7.6

FX’s true crime anthology series, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” is nominated for a whopping 18 Emmys, including Outstanding Original Series. Exploring Andrew Cunanan’s murder of designer Gianni Versace, the show made headlines upon its premiere when the Versace family released a statement criticizing the series and Maureen Orth's book “Vulgar Favors” on which it was based. Executive producer Ryan Murphy responded to the statement, defending the show and calling it “a work of non-fiction ... with docudrama elements.”


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Magical Elves Productions

#27. Top Chef

On air: 2006–present

Stars: Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons, Richard Blais

IMDb rating: 7.6

In “Top Chef,” a reality show that has aired for 15 seasons on Bravo, aspiring chefs compete in various culinary challenges and have their creations judged by professional chefs. The competition has produced several successful celebrity chefs, with seasons eight and nine contestant Carla Hall being the cream that rose to the top after she scored a hosting gig on ABC’s daytime talk show “The Chew.” “Top Chef” has also spawned six spinoffs, with the most successful being “Top Chef Masters” and “Top Chef Junior,” as well as 21 international adaptations.


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CBS Broadcasting

#26. The Amazing Race

On air: 2001–present

Stars: Phil Keoghan, Joyce Agu, Uchenna Agu, Jet McCoy

IMDb rating: 7.6

“The Amazing Race” has been nominated for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program for each and every one of the 16 years the category has been a part of the Emmy Awards. Hoping for its 11th win, the series features 11 teams of two that compete in mental and physical challenges as they travel around the world for a $1 million prize. The show is also responsible for boosting tourism in the 89 countries to which its teams have traveled over its 30 seasons on CBS.


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World of Wonder Productions

#25. RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked!

On air: 2010–present

Stars: RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Santino Rice, Chad Michaels

IMDb rating: 7.7

“RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked!” is a behind-the-scenes docu-series that accompanies “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and offers viewers a backstage pass to the drama not seen the show. The series initially aired exclusively online as “Under the Hood of RuPaul's Drag Race” before being retitled and moved to television, where it airs after each episode of the main show on VH1. It has since become a permanent accompaniment to the reality competition.

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Anonymous Content

#24. The Alienist

On air: 2018

Stars: Daniel Brühl, Dakota Fanning, Luke Evans, Brian Geraghty

IMDb rating: 7.8

TNT’s psychological thriller “The Alienist” is nominated for six Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Limited Series. Based on a novel by Caleb Carr, the series stars Daniel Brühl and Luke Evans as a criminal psychologist and a newspaper illustrator, respectively, who investigate the gruesome murders of boy prostitutes in 1896 New York City. The show, which mixes a fictional story with factual elements including historical figures as characters, has been renewed for a continuation series based on Carr’s follow-up novel “The Angel of Darkness.”


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Universal Television

#23. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

On air: 2015–present

Stars: Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane

IMDb rating: 7.8

Netflix’s fourth season of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” nominated for two Emmy Awards, is also its last. The comedy stars Ellie Kemper as a woman who, after having been rescued from a doomsday cult, attempts to successfully navigate not only New York City, but also a world she didn’t believe existed anymore. The series has come across its fair share of controversy over its run, including accusations of promoting racial stereotypes, but it has also been praised for its edgy wit.  


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GRB Entertainment

#22. Intervention

On air: 2005–present

Stars: Candy Finnigan, Mark Behar, Jeff VanVonderen, Ken Seeley

IMDb rating: 8

For 19 seasons, A&E’s “Intervention” has profiled people whose addiction to drugs, alcohol, or compulsive behavior has destroyed their lives and devastated their loved ones. The docu-series, which follows interventionalists’ efforts to encourage the subjects to face their addictions head-on, has a strong track record for helping people turn their lives around, and remain clean from destructive substances and behavior.


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Discovery Network

#21. Deadliest Catch

On air: 2005–present

Stars: Mike Rowe, Sig Hansen, Edgar Hansen, Keith Colburn

IMDb rating: 8

Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” has consistently been one of the cable network’s most popular programs since it debuted in 2005, spawning countless specials, books, and video games. The docu-series gives viewers a first-hand look at the lives of fishing crews working aboard vessels on the Bering Sea. Its most memorable and heartbreaking moment has been when camera crews documented the 2010 death of one of the program’s primary personalities Capt. Phil Harris, which resulted in one of the most-watched telecasts in Discovery Channel history.


18 / 37
Bunim-Murray Productions

#20. Born This Way

On air: 2015–present

Stars: Sean McElwee, Rachel Osterbach, John Tucker, Hiromi Ashmore

IMDb rating: 8.1

“Born This Way” is an A&E docu-series that shows how seven young adults born with Down syndrome navigate the world and defy society’s expectations. The show is currently in its fourth season, which showcases the “Beauty and the Beast”-themed wedding of two of its cast members Cristina Sanz and Angel Callahan.


19 / 37
Wall to Wall Television

#19. Who Do You Think You Are?

On air: 2010–present

Stars: Mocean Melvin, Ken Rogers, Courteney Cox, Julie Bowen

IMDb rating: 8.1

Each episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” documents the journey of a different celebrity as they research their ancestry with the help of historians and genealogical experts. The docu-series, which aired on NBC for three seasons before moving to TLC for seven more, is adapted from a BBC series by the same title. Celebrities featured on the show’s most recent season include Hilary Duff, Molly Shannon, and Jean Smart.


20 / 37
Home Box Office (HBO)

#18. Barry

On air: 2018–present

Stars: Bill Hader, Stephen Root, Sarah Goldberg, Glenn Fleshler

IMDb rating: 8.1

In HBO’s dark comedy “Barry,” Bill Hader plays a depressed, low-rent hitman who travels from the Midwest to Los Angeles to carry out a hit on an aspiring actor only to fall head-first into an acting class that encourages him to leave his old life behind. In addition to scoring 13 Emmy nominations in its first season, the show has also scored a second season pick-up.


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#17. GLOW

On air: 2017–present

Stars: Alison Brie, Marc Maron, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel

IMDb rating: 8.1

Netflix’s “GLOW,” a 1980s-set comedy about a bunch of misfits that reinvent themselves as the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, scored 10 Emmy nominations for its first season, including Outstanding Comedy Series. The show has since debuted its second season and has been picked up for a third. Real members of the professional wrestling promotion on which the series is based have had mixed reactions to “GLOW,”  with some saying it did not properly represent the promotion, while mainstream wrestlers have praised it for its accuracy.


22 / 37
World of Wonder Productions

#16. RuPaul's Drag Race

On air: 2009–present

Stars: RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Santino Rice, Jason Carter

IMDb rating: 8.3

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” has been entertaining viewers on VH1 for 10 seasons. Contestants on the show compete in various challenges with the hope of winning the title of America's Next Drag Superstar, a $100,000 cash prize, and a one-year supply of Anastasia Beverly Hills cosmetics. The reality competition is the highest-rated program on Logo TV and, according to host RuPaul, is being developed into a feature film.


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Showtime Entertainment

#15. Patrick Melrose

On air: 2018

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Maltz, Jennifer Jason Leigh

IMDb rating: 8.3

Showtime’s “Patrick Melrose” stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character, an Englishman from a privileged family whose traumatic childhood has resulted in substance abuse and eventual recovery. Edward St. Aubyn’s darkly comic semi-autobiographical novels inspired the five-part limited series, which is nominated for five Emmy Awards and has received critical acclaim—particularly for Cumberbatch’s stellar performance.


24 / 37
High Noon Entertainment

#14. Fixer Upper

On air: 2013–present

Stars: Chip Gaines, Joanna Gaines, Dustin Anderson, Clint Harp

IMDb rating: 8.4

For five seasons, HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” has followed married couple Joanna and Chip Gaines as they design and renovate homes in Waco, Texas. The cable channel recently debuted a spinoff titled “Fixer Upper: Behind the Design,” which focuses on Joanna’s inspiration through the design process. The couple also recently announced the birth of their fifth child.


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#13. Godless

On air: 2017

Stars: Jack O'Connell, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Merritt Wever

IMDb rating: 8.4

Racking up 12 Emmy nominations, Netflix’s “Godless” stars Jeff Daniels as a ruthless outlaw who terrorizes the West while searching for a former member of his gang who has taken refuge in a town populated only by women. The seven-episode limited series has received critical acclaim and has even been called one of the 10 best shows of 2017.


26 / 37
Dreamworks Television

#12. The Americans

On air: 2013–2018

Stars: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor

IMDb rating: 8.4

Having recently aired its sixth and final season on FX, period drama “The Americans” is nominated for four Emmy Awards—including Outstanding Drama Series. Stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, who are both nominated for their lead performances on the show, play KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington D.C. during the Reagan administration. The series was created by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg, who used his experience in the government organization to give “The Americans” a boost of credibility.


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FX Productions

#11. Atlanta

On air: 2016–present

Stars: Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Lakeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz

IMDb rating: 8.6

Boasting a staggering 16 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Comedy Series, “Atlanta” stars Donald Glover and Brian Tyree Henry as cousins who are working their way through the Atlanta music scene in an attempt to improve their lives. At last year’s Emmy Awards, Glover—who also serves as a writer and a director on the series—became the first African-American to ever win for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series. The show, which has been renewed for a third season on FX, is also notable for promoting diversity in Hollywood by having a nearly unheard of all-black writing staff.


28 / 37
MGM Television

#10. The Handmaid's Tale

On air: 2017–present

Stars: Elisabeth Moss, Max Minghella, Yvonne Strahovski, Joseph Fiennes

IMDb rating: 8.6

Elisabeth Moss plays a woman who, forced into sexual servitude, struggles to survive in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The dystopian drama, which has been renewed for a third season, is nominated for an impressive 20 Emmys including Outstanding Drama Series—a category for which it won last year. That win marked the first time a show on a streaming service has ever won an Emmy for Outstanding Series.


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3 Arts Entertainment

#9. Silicon Valley

On air: 2014–present

Stars: Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Josh Brener, Martin Starr

IMDb rating: 8.6

In HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” which is nominated for seven Emmys—including Outstanding Comedy Series—Thomas Middleditch plays a computer programmer with a game-changing algorithm who founds a startup company with four other men. The show was co-created by Mike Judge, who used his former experience working in the unpleasant culture of a Silicon Valley startup to inject the series with a satirical wit that has offended some businessmen, including Elon Musk.


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Scout Productions

#8. Queer Eye

On air: 2018–present

Stars: Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski

IMDb rating: 8.7

“Queer Eye,” Netflix’s reboot of Bravo’s reality show of the same title that ran for five seasons, features five gay men who, as experts in food, fashion, culture, interior design, and grooming, offer tips and makeovers to subjects in need of their help. Critics claim the show adapts to a different era without losing its charm. Viewers seem to agree since Netflix has already released two seasons and recently ordered a third.


31 / 37
Amazon Studios

#7. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

On air: 2017–present

Stars: Matilda Szydagis, Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein, Michael Zegen

IMDb rating: 8.7

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” stars Rachel Brosnahan as Midge Maisel, a woman who goes from housewife to stand-up comic in 1958 New York. The comedy’s pilot episode achieved an average viewer rating of 4.9 out of 5 on Amazon—one of the highest ratings ever for a pilot on the streaming service. Amazon initially ordered two seasons of the show, which is nominated for 14 Emmys, but has since ordered a third before the second season has even been released.


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Sony Pictures Television Production UK

#6. The Crown

On air: 2016–present

Stars: Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Victoria Hamilton, Vanessa Kirby

IMDb rating: 8.7

Claire Foy plays Queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown,” a biographical drama that follows the queen’s political rivalries and romance with Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Nominated for 13 Emmy Awards, the series’ first two seasons have received critical acclaim despite some journalists taking aim at the show’s historical inaccuracy. Viewers seem to side with critics as Netflix has renewed the series for at least two more seasons.


33 / 37
Production Partners

#5. Curb Your Enthusiasm

On air: 2000–present

Stars: Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman

IMDb rating: 8.7

After a six-year hiatus, “Seinfeld” producer Larry David reprised his role of a fictionalized version of himself on a ninth season of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which has been nominated for four Emmys. Critics have consistently called the comedy one of the greatest television series of all time and have drawn comparisons between David’s character and the “schlemiel” character in traditional Yiddish folklore that represents a form of resistance to social and cultural norms. HBO has since ordered a 10th season of the show.


34 / 37
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

#4. This Is Us

On air: 2016–present

Stars: Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz

IMDb rating: 8.8

Nominated for eight Emmy Awards, “This Is Us” has been a ratings and critical hit for NBC since it premiered in 2016. The drama, which will debut its third season this fall, follows a family across the decades. More than 15 million viewers regularly tune into the series, which has become known for not only requiring a box of tissues nearby while watching, but also for earning a high-profile fan base that includes Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg, and Oprah Winfrey.


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Warner Bros. Television

#3. Westworld

On air: 2016–present

Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris, Thandie Newton

IMDb rating: 8.9

Scoring an astonishing 21 Emmy nominations, “Westworld” is a science fiction series—based on the 1973 film of the same title—set in a technologically advanced amusement park populated by robots. The show, which was recently renewed for a third season, holds the record for the most-watched first season of any HBO original series. Critics and viewers love the show for its multi-layered approach, even though some worry said approach may become too complicated over time.


36 / 37

#2. Stranger Things

On air: 2016–present

Stars: Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder, David Harbour

IMDb rating: 8.9

The first two seasons of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” have riveted viewers with a story about a small town that uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments and terrifying supernatural forces. With 12 Emmy nominations and a third season in the pipeline, viewers and critics are crazy about the show for its resemblance to the classic films of Steven Spielberg and vintage 1980s television. The series’ popularity has been so widespread that it has even boosted sales of Eggo Waffles—the favorite food of Millie Bobby Brown’s creepy character Eleven.


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Home Box Office (HBO)

#1. Game of Thrones

On air: 2011–present

Stars: Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Lena Headey

IMDb rating: 9.5

“Game of Thrones” leads not only this list with the highest IMDb rating, but also the number of Emmy nominations with 22, including Outstanding Drama Series—a category for which it won in 2015 and 2016. HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels is overflowing with magic and dragons, enthralling critics who call it the most talked about show on television, and amassing a viewer fanbase that may be more devoted than for any other entertainment property. The show, with eight seasons under its belt and a ninth on the way, is credited with increasing the popularity of the fantasy genre, adding words to everyday vocabulary, and encouraging parents to name their baby girls Khaleesi.

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