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Eight Shows You Need to Binge Before the 2019 Emmys

Nominations for the 71st annual Emmy Awards were announced on July 16. This Emmy season was one of the strongest years for television — maybe ever. And with cable, streaming services and network TV competing for your attention, there’s more content than ever before. We’ve tried our best to narrow it down for you. Here are some of the shows everyone is going to be talking about on Emmys night!

“Game of Thrones”

Yes, the entire world has probably already seen “Game of Thrones,” but if, for whatever reason, you haven’t, catch up before the show dominates the Emmys in September. The HBO drama leads all other shows with 32 nominations (11 of which are for acting), and it made history earning the most nominations in a single year for any series ever.

With 38 wins, “Game of Thrones” is already the most awarded series in Emmy history. Expect the fantasy epic to repeat as Best Drama winner for its (somewhat controversial?) final season and pick up a slew of other awards, adding to its already historic awards total. 

Where to watch: The entire series is available on HBO and HBO Now


The groundbreaking FX drama centers around New York City’s underground ball culture and its iconic house mothers. “Pose” features a sprawling cast of mostly trans and queer actors of color, and trans and queer writers and producers, a first for television. The stunning costumes and production values bring you right into ‘80s New York, and make it hard to take your eyes off the compelling characters and performances.

“Pose” earned six Emmy nominations, including Best Drama Series. Billy Porter also became the first openly gay black actor to be nominated in a major acting category. Season two is currently airing on FX, making it the perfect time to catch up.

Where to Watch: FX on Demand and Netflix (Season 1)   


“Fleabag” is only 12 episodes long, making it an easy pre-Emmy binge. Its second and final season earned 11 nominations, including Best Comedy and Best Comedy Writing. It also received well-deserved acting nominations for writer and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, as well as Olivia Colman and Sian Clifford (among others).

“Fleabag” explores what it’s like being a single woman trying to balance intimacy, family relationships and work, with writing that is whip-smart, hilarious and honest in a way few other shows have been before. It’s a premise we’ve seen before, but its execution is totally original. “Fleabag” will break your heart, but also leave you feeling hopeful, if not sad that it’s over so quickly. 

Where to Watch: The entire series is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video


Barry follows a hitman who goes to Los Angeles on a job, but then he finds himself in an acting class and decides to give up life as a contract killer to become an actor. Its premise alone makes it one of the most unique shows on TV. It’s also told in really inventive ways, balancing comedy and action with real emotion and heart.

In addition to Best Comedy Series, the show’s stellar cast was recognized with nomations for Bill Hader (who won Best Comedy Actor last year, and is likely to repeat), Henry Winkler (who won his first-ever Primetime Emmy for the show last year), Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root and (the ever GIF-able) Andrew Carrigan. The show also picked up multiple writing and directing mentions, bringing Barry’s nomination total to 17.

Where to Watch: Both seasons are available on HBO and HBO Go.


“What is the cost of lies?” HBO’s five-part miniseries follows the aftermath of the 1986 nuclear power plant explosion in Chernobyl. It’s part political thriller, part horror movie as you see the effects of radiation on the bodies of the first responders as the USSR refuses to acknowledge anything went wrong. (Be forewarned, some depictions of the radiation poisoning are rather graphic).

With 19 nominations, “Chernobyl” is this year’s most nominated limited series, picking up mentions for Best Limited Series; acting nominations for Jared Harris, Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgard; writing and directing nominations; and nominations for its cinematic production. “Chernobyl” is both a history lesson and a warning for our modern political era.

Where to Watch: The entire miniseries is available on HBO and HBO Go.      

“When They See Us” 

Ava DuVernay’s four-part Netflix miniseries tells the true story of the Central Park Five: five black and Hispanic teens falsely accused of rape and sent to prison. (Their convictions were vacated in 2002 after the real perpetrator came forward). ”When They See Us” is the most important and timely show of this Emmy season. It’s a vital look at the effects of an unjust legal system and incarceration on the lives of these young men and their families.

“When They See Us” is an incredibly difficult watch, but an important one. You will not be able to stop thinking about these men and their stories. It earned 16 nominations, including Best Limited Series, writing and directing nominations for DuVernay, and eight acting nominations. Newcomer Jharrell Jerome, up for Best Actor in a Limited Series, gives a particularly unforgettable performance and could win against Oscar-winning veterans like Sam Rockwell and Mahershala Ali.

Where to Watch: Netflix 

“Schitt’s Creek”

“Schitt’s Creek” has been an internet favorite for years, but the comedy finally broke through at the Emmys for the first time this year. The show earned four nominations, including Best Comedy Series, and acting nominations for comedy icons Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. It’s nice to see the Emmys embrace an underdog (the show airs on Pop TV, but it became popular when it started streaming on Netflix). You’ll definitely find yourself rooting for this hilarious, lovable and dysfunctional family. 

Where to Watch: Pop TV and Netflix   

 “Escape at Dannemora”

True crime aficionados (and just about everyone else) will love this stranger-than-fiction true story of two inmates (nominees Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano) who escaped from a maximum-security prison with the help of a prison employee whom they were both having an affair with (nominee Patricia Arquette). With 12 nominations, “Escape at Dannemora” is a twisted prison drama meets love triangle, a necessary pre-Emmy binge.  

Where to Watch: Showtime and Showtime on Demand 

The 2019 Emmy Awards will air September 22 on Fox. You can find a complete list of nominees here.

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Featured image credit: “When They See Us” | Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

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