author: mac brock | a&c editor
As original content shifts to online services, we break down the cream of the crop.
In 2016, Netflix became the third most nominated outlet at the Primetime Emmy Awards. The shift from cable to streaming services for high quality television has been speeding up in recent years with the release of accolade-heavy original programming, and many of the last few years’ hit series have come from services like Amazon or Shomi. Though it’s a wide market, of the nine most nominated streaming original shows, Netflix produced eight.
See the countdown of the nine most decorated shows in streaming service history below.
The Crown: 23 nominations
The show, rumoured to have cost nearly $160 million, certainly does not cut corners on its stylistic punch. With a Hans Zimmer score, a set built for royalty, and all of the twists and turns of the Windsors’ storied history, The Crown is formulaic critical success. The series has already been commissioned for a second season, and after its much-adored first season, it will not be a family history to miss.
Master of None: 34 nominations
Have you watched Master of None? If you haven’t, drop this and watch Master of None. If you have, you’ll probably watch it again pretty soon. Aziz Ansari’s Peabody award winning series brings a new meaning to political satire in an accessible, hilarious way. Ansari’s Dev navigates the racism and challenges of young Indian actors in the entertainment industry while navigating a difficult romance with Rachel (played superbly by Saturday Night Live alum Noel Wells). The show’s handling of social issues is subtle yet pointed, and framed with one of the best-crafted romantic storylines in a comedy series. Master of None is the mature rom-com.
Jessica Jones: 36 nominations
Jessica Jones is widely considered the best Marvel television franchise to date. Krysten Ritter’s portrayal of the troubled superhero has earned her several nominations among the show’s collective dozens. The neo-noir thriller kept the high-speed energy of an action series with the emotional heft of a heavy-hitter drama. The show’s exploration of post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, and sexual assault received universal acclaim. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the show inspired the release of another 2016 smash hit, Luke Cage.
Daredevil: 39 nominations
Move over, Ben Affleck. Rumours of Netflix’s Daredevil started out just at the top of the new wave of dark superhero stories, and it set the bar high. The series had been in development as a feature film since late 2012, but the production team quickly realized that the subtleties of the superhero would be quickly diluted by multi-million-dollar special effects. Their choice to stick true to a character-driven arc on a lower budget turned the show into a huge success as another piece of Marvel and Netflix’s The Defenders universe.
Stranger Things: 42 nominations
The only number higher than 42 associated with Stranger Things is the number of times you’ve probably been asked if you’ve watched Stranger Things. The Netflix runaway hit cleaned up as one of the most nominated shows of 2016. Perhaps more impressive than the nominations is the cultural obsession that soon followed – Christmas lights at Halloween, five child superstars, and a pretty significant spike in sales for Eggos for Eleven costumes. Whether or not the second season lives up to the high bar, Stranger Things is a landmark of our generation’s TV.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: 80 nominations
There is no comedy out right now quite like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The quirky comedic style manages to take its near-caricature cast and make it one of the most relatable and believable ensembles on television. The second season, released this past year, managed to take the light-hearted hilarity of its first season and dose it with some real, complex story arcs as Kimmy searches for her mom – which brings the season to one of the most memorable finales of the year.
Transparent: 117 nominations
The second season of Transparent features some of the most unique and memorable story devices in recent releases. The show, Amazon Studios’ first (and arguably only) major critical success, has explored addiction, suicide, and even a particularly powerful story arc depicting the tragic path of non-traditional sexual identities in WWII Germany. Jeffrey Tambor has been critically acclaimed through the show’s three seasons for his gentle yet high-strung Maura, with an impeccable supporting ensemble. Special mention also sits with the show’s diverse and emotional playlist which has given several emerging alternative artists huge attention.
Orange is the New Black: 184 nominations
Though Orange is the New Black released a new season in 2016, awards season followers may not ever remember. The show’s universal acclaim came to a road block with its fourth season, centering around the treatment of prisoners in privatized prisons. That being said, the show’s first three seasons were more than enough to cement the program’s status as a hallmark of streaming television. One of the first of Netflix’s original series, OitNB has developed haunting and memorable backstories for dozens of the show’s inmates, many inspired by the show’s source material (Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman, which is a highly recommended read on its own). Whether the series can redeem its critics’ concerns in its upcoming fifth season or not, this is not a series to forget.
House of Cards: 191 nominations
House of Cards has it all. It is a political drama for political know-it-not-at-alls. It is a cutthroat thriller. It has maintained universal acclaim for four seasons, with a highly-anticipated fifth coming in spring 2017. Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood has become one of the most well-crafted and fascinating characters in television history, matched only by his partner (and challenger), Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood. The show’s politics are accessible – making its viewer feel almost as smart as its protagonists – but they often take a passenger seat to the characters’ personal development (or often destruction). Frank and Claire make choices which may shock you, disgust you, and make you want to turn your television off forever, yet the show’s masterful writing will somehow grab you back in and hope for them to win once more. House of Cards is, without question, Netflix’s biggest, boldest, most memorable hit.
Television technology is changing as fast as anything else these days. But with hit series like these nine entertainment dynasties, the future of television is bright.