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Emmy Awards 2018: What to Watch For

Emmy Awards 2018: What to Watch For

Because of the timing of its previous season, “Game of Thrones” was not included in last year’s Emmys, opening the door for Hulu’s dystopian drama. “The Handmaid’s Tale” took advantage, becoming the first show from a streaming platform to win best drama.


Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington in the HBO series “Game of Thrones.”

Helen Sloan/HBO

But “Game of Thrones” is an Emmy favorite, leading all series in nominations for the last three years it has been eligible. One point against it: Its seventh season debuted almost a year ago, a long stretch of time especially when compared to the second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which came out in April and feels increasingly relevant to many left-leaning Emmy voters.

Or perhaps things will go in another direction.

Last year was a year of change at the Emmys with rookie shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Crown,” “Stranger Things,” “This Is Us” and “Westworld” all nabbing best drama nominations. They are all favored to be among the seven nominees in the best drama category again, with FX executives hopeful that the critical darling “The Americans” will get a nod for its final season. It is not unheard-of for Emmy voters to give shows a big trophy on their way out: Series like “The Sopranos,” “Breaking Bad” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” all claimed top prizes for their final seasons.

Here are a few other story lines to keep an eye on when the nominations are announced.

We’ll have a new best actress.


Rachel Brosnahan stars as a 1950s housewife turned comedian in Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”


The last time the Emmy for best actress in a comedy went to someone not named Julia Louis-Dreyfus, President Barack Obama was in his first term.

With the final season of “Veep” delayed because Ms. Louis-Dreyfus was being treated for cancer (good news: filming is scheduled to begin with Ms. Dreyfus next month), there will be a new winner in best actress in a comedy category for the first time since 2011.

The race will be wide open. Rachel Brosnahan, who stars as a 1950s housewife-turned-comedian in Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” is a possible early favorite. (She won the Golden Globe in the same category in January.) Others in the running could be the two-time nominee Tracee Ellis-Ross from “black-ish,” the seven-time Emmy winner Allison Janney for the CBS sitcom “Mom,” Alison Brie from Netflix’s “Glow” and Pamela Adlon from FX’s “Better Things.”

The absence of “Veep” also means there will be a new winner in best comedy for the first time in four years. (Since 2007, there have been, remarkably, only three best comedy winners: “Veep,” “Modern Family” and “30 Rock.”) Donald Glover’s boundary-pushing comedy, “Atlanta,” will be a favorite, along with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

Superstars, indeed.


John Legend starred in the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” on NBC.

Eric Liebowitz/NBC

If NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” gets some love from the Emmy voters, it could make some pop culture history. There are three people attached to NBC’s live musical who, if nominated, would be at the doorstep of joining the EGOT club — the exclusive and somewhat random assortment of people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony.

John Legend, who played Jesus Christ in the musical, won an Oscar in 2015 for best original song for “Glory” from the movie “Selma,” and a Tony for serving as a producer for “Jitney,” which won best revival of a play last year. He has also won several Grammys.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and his longtime collaborator, Tim Rice, the producers of the TV musical, are both an Emmy shy of an EGOT.

There have been a dozen EGOT winners, including Audrey Hepburn, Whoopi Goldberg, Mel Brooks and Scott Rudin. Robert Lopez, the acclaimed songwriter behind “Frozen” and Broadway’s “Book of Mormon,” was the last person to join the club, four years ago. This year, he became the first person to win the so-called “double EGOT.” His wife and regular collaborator, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, has won two Oscars and two Grammys.

Netflix closes in on HBO.


Evan Rachel Wood in “Westworld,” on HBO, which has long been a big winner at the Emmys. But Netflix has been closing the gap.

John P. Johnson/HBO

Netflix’s growth at the Emmys is staggering. In 2015, the streaming service had 34 nominations. In 2016, it had 54. Last year, that number was up to 91, second only to HBO’s.

Is this the Emmy season when Netflix will finally snap HBO’s streak of 17 consecutive years of leading all TV networks in nominations?

If it happens, it would represent a changing of the guard, even if Netflix’s shows are not expected to capture top drama and comedy awards.

And the end-of-an-era feeling becomes even more pronounced with AT&T’s new ownership of HBO. The telecommunications company has declared changes are coming for the network in a bid to increase subscriptions.

As usual, Netflix spared no expense in its Emmys campaigning. It opened a 30,000-square-foot space in Los Angeles in May and June, staging more than a dozen events for crowds that it hoped included lots of Emmy voters. Netflix also recently bought a few dozen billboards along the Sunset Strip where it can pump out even more awards advertising.

But while if Netflix is the most extravagant marketer, it’s far from the only one.

So-called For Your Consideration events — screenings and panel discussions bankrolled by the networks and studios to get stars and free food and booze in front of Emmy voters — have expanded at an incredible clip. Last year, there were 61 Television Academy-sanctioned events in Los Angeles and New York during Emmy campaigning season. This year, it nearly doubled to 116 events, according to a spokesman for the Academy.

Let’s look at the late-night battles.


James Comey, left, the former F.B.I. director, on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”

Scott Kowalchyk/CBS, via Associated Press

John Oliver stands as the clear favorite in the best variety talk show category, with his weekly HBO series, “Last Week Tonight,” winning the last two years.

But can Stephen Colbert, the CBS host whose show has become the most watched in late night, break that streak? And can NBC’s Jimmy Fallon or Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah edge their way back into the category after being snubbed last year? “The Daily Show” once dominated the variety show category, winning a whopping 11 times with Jon Stewart as host. And Mr. Fallon, who has seen his “Tonight Show” audience shrink, made a point of campaigning fairly aggressively this year.

“Saturday Night Live,” which historically has not been a favorite of Emmy voters, had the best awards performance in its 43-year history last year. The NBC sketch show collected nine Emmys in 2017, the most for any show. But critical praise for the show cooled considerably this past season, so it’s an open question whether it can get close to the 22 nominations it had last year.

Either way, the show will have a prominent role: Its Weekend Update hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che are hosting this year’s Emmys, and will likely bring several cast members along for the ride in what will be an “S.N.L.”-fueled ceremony.

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