In the late 1940s, the National Academy of Television, Arts, and Sciences hosted the first Emmy Awards. Named after a piece of TV equipment, the "immy" (short for image-orthicon tube), the awards were created to recognize the best acting, directing, writing, and production on television. The name was feminized into Emmy thanks to the awards statuette, which features a winged woman (the arts) holding an atom (the sciences).
During those first 1949 awards, which cost a measly $5 to attend, only six trophies were given out. The very first went to a ventriloquist, Shirley Dinsdale, for her work on “The Judy Splinters Show.” Today, the ceremony is much grander. The Primetime Emmy Awards dole out 27 trophies alone, while the Creative Arts Emmys dole out dozens more (including awards for categories like hairstyling and camera work). Additionally, tickets to the Emmys can no longer be purchased; instead, they’re offered to Television Academy members and nominees on an as-available basis.
What’s remained the same over the last 71 years is how Emmys are awarded. The Academy has over 25,000 active members, which are divided into 30 groups based on the individuals’ area of expertise. These groups then vote on the nominees and winners for the categories within their area of specialty. This makes each award a symbol of peer recognition rather than recognition by a governing body, a la the Oscars.
This year’s Primetime Emmy Awards will take place on Sept. 22. Stacker has rounded up the 25 most popular shows that have received nominations. All drama, comedy, competition, variety, and limited series nominated for at least one Emmy were considered. The shows have been ranked by the number of Wiki page views they’ve received (the data was pulled on Aug. 13, 2019).
Read on to find out which shows are poised to make history (or already have), and which series are looking to take home their first statuettes. Then be sure to tune in and root for your favorites.
You may also like:The 100 best TV shows of all time
- Total pageviews: 1,688,194
- Daily average pageviews: 4,613
Starring Bill Hader as a Midwestern hitman, Barry Berkman, HBO’s “Barry” is a dark tragicomedy that was recently renewed for a third season. The show follows the Marine-turned-hitman as he travels to Los Angeles for a hit only to find acceptance in the city’s theater arts scene. “Barry” has been nominated for a total of 17 Emmys this year, including outstanding comedy series and outstanding writing for a comedy series.
- Total pageviews: 1,970,330
- Daily average pageviews: 5,383
A limited series that premiered on Showtime at the end of 2018, “Escape at Dannemora” is based on the real-life escape of two prisoners from the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York in 2015. Patricia Arquette stars as Joyce Mitchell, the married female prison employee that both men (played by Benicio del Toro and Paul Dano) become involved with, and who aids them in their flight. Directed by Ben Stiller, the seven-episode serial is up for 12 Emmys including outstanding limited series.
- Total pageviews: 1,981,265
- Daily average pageviews: 5,413
Set to enter its 12th season in 2020, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has become one of the most popular reality shows on TV and has even inspired a U.K. spinoff. Described as the ultimate search for the next drag superstar, this fun, and often dramatic, romp is up for nine Emmys at the 2019 awards. Among the nominations: outstanding hairstyling and outstanding makeup for a multi-camera series or special.
- Total pageviews: 2,010,789
- Daily average pageviews: 5,494
One of 2019’s breakout series, “Russian Doll” stars Natasha Lyonne (who created the show alongside Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland) as a game developer who’s stuck in a time loop. The comedy-drama is a Netflix Original, with a host of well-known guest stars, including many of Lyonne’s former “Orange Is the New Black” castmates. The series is nominated for 13 awards at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, including outstanding comedy series, an honor that led Lyonne to experience “a deep feeling of holy s--t.”
- Total pageviews: 2,030,600
- Daily average pageviews: 5,548
Another Netflix Original, “Dead to Me” is fueled by some serious Hollywood heavyweights including Christina Applegate, Linda Cardellini, Will Ferrell, and Adam McKay. The black comedy stars Applegate and Cardellini as two grieving women who form a relationship after joining group therapy. Ferrell and McKay act as executive producers on the series, which is nominated for one Emmy Award (outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, Christina Applegate) and was recently given the green light by the streaming platform for a second season.
- Total pageviews: 2,103,958
- Daily average pageviews: 5,749
Created by Lorne Michaels, “Saturday Night Live” premiered in 1975 and has won 62 Emmys over its 44 season run. The sketch comedy show, which often parodies current events and pop culture trends, has launched the careers of some of Hollywood’s funniest comedians. In 2017, the original cast of the show was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. This year, "SNL" has garnered 18 nominations, including a fifth nomination for outstanding variety, music or comedy series.
- Total pageviews: 2,119,141
- Daily average pageviews: 5,790
“Fleabag” is a British comedy written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also stars as the titular character. She adapted the series from her one-woman play for the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Known for its cutting humor and the characters’ tendencies to break the fourth wall, the second and most recent season of the show is nominated for 11 Emmy Awards. This is the first year that series has received any Emmy nominations (the show began airing in 2016).
- Total pageviews: 2,202,189
- Daily average pageviews: 6,017
Based on Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name, “Sharp Objects” is an HBO miniseries. The seriously creepy show starred some familiar Hollywood faces, like Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, and Chris Messina. The show originally was only going to be one season long, but keeping with the source material, creator Marti Noxon has recently dropped hints that it might come back for a second season. The show received eight nominations this year.
- Total pageviews: 2,430,616
- Daily average pageviews: 6,641
“True Detective” is a truly unique offering. Each season of the HBO anthology hit is structured as its own complete narrative with an entirely original cast. The third and most recent season starred Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff as partner detectives investigating the disappearance of two children. The dark and grisly show won new legions of fans and secured nine of HBO’s 137 nominations at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards.
- Total pageviews: 2,568,151
- Daily average pageviews: 7,017
Gearing up for its sixth and final season, Shonda Rhimes’ runaway hit, “How to Get Away with Murder,” received three Emmy nods this year, including one for Viola Davis and one for Cicely Tyson. It follows a law professor (Davis) and five of her students as they become involved in a twisted murder plot that wildly changes the course of their lives. In 2015, Davis made history when she became the first African American woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama.
- Total pageviews: 2,574,886
- Daily average pageviews: 7,035
Also entering its sixth and final season, “Schitt’s Creek” amassed four Emmy nominations in 2019. The nominations are the first for Pop TV, the U.S. cable channel the show airs on. The light-hearted Canadian sitcom was created by father-son team Daniel Levy and Eugene Levy, who star in the show alongside Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy.
- Total pageviews: 2,831,872
- Daily average pageviews: 7,737
Nearly every episode of NBC’s “This Is Us” has left viewers reaching for the Kleenex. Starring Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, and Justin Hartley, the family drama has pulled at viewers’ heartstrings for three seasons. The series is up for nine Emmys this year, including outstanding drama series, and has positioned Mandy Moore to win her first trophy for outstanding lead actress in a drama series.
- Total pageviews: 2,996,108
- Daily average pageviews: 8,186
A “Breaking Bad” spinoff, “Better Call Saul” is up for nine Emmy Awards this season, including outstanding writing for a drama series. Set six years before the events in “Breaking Bad,” the show follows fraudster-turned-criminal lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), as he gains experience and begins to turn into the morally challenged lawyer, Saul Goodman, fans know and love. The long-awaited fifth season has begun production and is expected to premiere in 2020.
- Total pageviews: 3,288,309
- Daily average pageviews: 8,984
Receiving two Emmy nominations for its two lead actresses, Joey King and Patricia Arquette, “The Act” is set to become another award-winning limited series. A Hulu Original, “The Act” tells the true story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother Dee Dee Blanchard. Diagnosed with Munchausen syndrome by proxy, Dee Dee was accused of abusing her daughter, fabricating illnesses and disabilities, and subjecting Gypsy Rose to unnecessary treatment. Fed up with her mother’s controlling ways, Gypsy Rose recruited her secret boyfriend to help her murder her mother.
- Total pageviews: 3,361,709
- Daily average pageviews: 9,185
Based on a novel by Petra Hammesfahr, “The Sinner” is an anthology, crime drama, mystery show that follows Detective Harry Ambrose, played by Bill Pullman, as he investigates some seriously creepy cases. Originally intended to only be a single season long, the show announced its return for a third season in August 2019. Jessica Biel acts as an executive producer for the series and will be bringing her creative magic back for the newest storyline.
- Total pageviews: 4,139,512
- Daily average pageviews: 11,310
One of Netflix’s biggest breakout hits of 2019, “When They See Us” follows the 1989 Central Park jogger case and tells the true story of the exonerated Central Park Five. Directed by Ava DuVernay, the show has been called “emotionally challenging” and “must-watch TV,” but it's not for the faint of heart. Many have declared it too challenging to watch, thanks to the blatant injustice it features. The limited series scored a whopping 16 Emmy nominations, including outstanding limited series.
- Total pageviews: 4,162,053
- Daily average pageviews: 11,372
Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, one of the masterminds behind “Gilmore Girls,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is an Amazon Original period comedy. It follows 1950s New York City housewife, Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) as she realizes she has a knack for standup comedy. The show is up for 20 Emmys this year, five of them for its actresses ( the most actress nominations for any show other than “Game of Thrones”). The first two seasons are available for immediate streaming, with a third season set for a future release date—perhaps Winter 2019.
- Total pageviews: 4,339,001
- Daily average pageviews: 11,855
“The Good Place” follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who wakes up in a utopia-like afterlife only to realize she’s been sent there on accident. In order to stay, she has to become a better and more ethical person quickly before her secret is uncovered. While the show is light and funny, it’s also been praised for its struggle with ethics and philosophy. Now in the run-up to its fourth and final season, “The Good Place” is up for five Emmys at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, including outstanding comedy series.
- Total pageviews: 4,343,294
- Daily average pageviews: 11,867
A “Breaking Bad”-esque crime drama, “Ozark” is a Netflix original that stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linney. Caught up in a money embezzlement scheme, Bateman moves his family to the Ozark Mountains in order to start anew and find a way to pay back the drug cartel who is on his back for a substantial sum. Linney and Bateman both stand to take home an Emmy this year, and the show itself is up for outstanding drama series.
- Total pageviews: 4,539,798
- Daily average pageviews: 12,404
Anthologies have been a major trend in television over the past few years. “American Horror Story” is a perfect example; every season of the chilling horror show is connected in some way, which keeps devoted fans coming back and demanding more. It was recently announced that the show has been renewed through season 10. “Apocalypse,” which dealt with a nuclear apocalypse, the end of the world, and the battle between good and evil, was season eight).
- Total pageviews: 5,678,194
- Daily average pageviews: 15,514
A British spy series, “Killing Eve” follows detective Eve Polastri, played by Sandra Oh, as she hunts down a psychopathic assassin, Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer. The show, which was renewed for a third season, is unique in that each season is helmed by a different female showrunner. Phoebe Waller-Bridge (of “Fleabag” fame) led season one, Emerald Fennell took the helm for season two, and Suzanne Heathcote will take charge of season three. The female-driven show landed two Emmy nominations for outstanding lead actress (Oh, Comer) and one for outstanding writing for a drama series (Fennell), among others.
- Total pageviews: 5,975,792
- Daily average pageviews: 16,327
Following a group of geeky scientists and their friends in Pasadena, Calif., “The Big Bang Theory” aired for 12 seasons before its series finale earlier this year. While the show garnered some criticism for its declining comedic quality and insensitivity, its light-hearted humor and storylines still drew in legions of fans each week. While it’s not up for an award in any of the major categories this year, director Mark Cendrowski did earn an Emmy nod for his work on the finale.
- Total pageviews: 7,465,146
- Daily average pageviews: 20,397
Centered around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the cleanup efforts that followed, this HBO miniseries won 19 nominations for the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards. Receiving the highest score ever for a TV show on IMDb, “Chernobyl” still faced a substantial amount of blowback from real-life responders who claimed that much of what is depicted was fantasy.
- Total pageviews: 7,566,545
- Daily average pageviews: 20,674
This Hulu Original, a dystopian drama, was initially based on the Margaret Atwood book of the same name. Now in its third season, the chilling tale, in which a totalitarian society has subjected fertile women into child-bearing slavery, has become the platform’s most-watched series and was recently renewed for a fourth season. “The Handmaid’s Tale” has been nominated for 11 Emmys this year, including outstanding writing for a drama series.
- Total pageviews: 16,571,678
- Daily average pageviews: 45,278
During its eight-season run, “Game of Thrones” became a cultural phenomenon. In fact, the fantasy drama, which was set in Westeros and Essos, drew in 13.6 million live viewers for its finale earlier this year, making it the most-watched episode of any HBO show ever. Up for 32 Emmys this year, the show, which has 161 lifetime Emmy nominations, broke the record for most Emmy nominations for a single season of television.