Right now all of the talk coming out of the various guild awards is focused on finding clarity in the impossibly confounding best picture race at the Oscars. The other hints coming out of the guild awards are any last clues of what TV shows are capturing the attention of industry voters before they fill out their Emmy ballots months from now.
With six months to go in the Emmy season PGA and SAG voters might not be able to declare any clear frontrunners but they were able to set the framework for two questions heading into the Emmy race. The first question, over on the drama side, is how all of these new drama favorites can hold up to an Emmy juggernaut like Game of Thrones. On the comedy side now that Veep is on hiatus guild groups have the opportunity to give new shows an edge before frontrunners like Atlanta return for a second season.
Producers Guild Awards
With the final season of Veep on a filming hiatus until later in the year the comedy series race at the Emmys is the most wide open it has been in years and PGA voters are the first to give any sort of clue at a frontrunner by awarding The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The fact that the Amazon comedy was able to win over voters so quickly after premiering last Thanksgiving is proof that it will be a major Emmy player later on in the year.
The producers also hinted at a frontrunner in the upcoming drama race. For the first time The Handmaid’s Tale and Game of Thrones went head to head in a major category and surprisingly the Hulu drama came out on top. In addition to beating past winners like Game of Thrones and Stranger Things the dystopian drama also beat out Big Little Lies only adding to the strength of the show. Depending on how well the second season is received it might be the only show with a chance of stopping a Game of Thrones sweep.
Screen Actors Guild Awards
After the 2013 merger of SAG and AFTRA a small and subtle change has happened with the winners. For the most part the winners can be correlated to whatever show has been most recently and widely seen by voters. Winners like Claire Foy and William H. Macy pulled off repeat upsets after their most recent seasons premiered directly in the voting window.
One of the biggest surprises of the night came when This Is Us pulled off an upset in the Drama Ensemble category against frontrunners like The Handmaid’s Tale and Stranger Things. Still, we should have seen it coming. This Is Us arguably has the biggest audience and was the only nominee airing as voters were filling out their ballots. On top of that This Is Us is the most diverse cast of the five nominees and also prominently features children (a large cast of kids arguably helped Stranger Things win last year).
After missing out on nominations from the WGA, PGA, and DGA there was some worry that This Is Us would suffer from a sophomore slump and fizzle out at the Emmys but after winning two SAG awards it’s clear that the actors will carry the broadcast hit to a second nomination at the Emmys.
Shockingly The Handmaid’s Tale went home empty handed after winning over the actors branch at the Emmys earlier in 2017. There probably isn’t any sudden backlash to the drama and instead its shutout is probably accredited to a mixture of it having premiered a while ago and the fact that the Hulu show is far less accessible than the other broadcast dramas and Netflix series.
The other big surprise of the night was Veep finally winning its first ensemble prize. After three consecutive wins for the incredible ensemble of Orange is the New Black it was widely believed that the cast of G.L.O.W. would win for its first season. In the end the two ensembles were probably too similar and split the vote making way for the Emmy favorite to pull off an upset with SAG voters.
ACE Eddie Awards
The ACE Eddie Awards aren’t a key indicator in the Emmy race but this year they might be able to hint at a couple of underdog contenders especially in the comedy races. In a surprise upset Curb Your Enthusiasm beat out wrestling comedy G.L.O.W. further hinting that Larry David’s return to television might be a major player in the comedy categories at the Emmys. Black-ish won in the Best Edited Comedy Series for Commercial Television which is good news for the beloved sitcom that has failed to be recognized by any branch besides the actors at the Emmys.
ACE Eddie voters were also the second group of voters to single out The Handmaid’s Tale over other major shows like Game of Thrones and Big Little Lies. The fact that The Handmaid’s Tale is strong enough to stand out to editors over an action-packed epic like Game of Thrones after it just lost the Emmy for the same season. If the penultimate season of Game of Thrones continues to lose guild awards to The Handmaid’s Tale it will be interesting to see how HBO rallies support for the show later on in Emmy season.