Heading into nomination morning it was widely believed that the Outstanding Drama Series race was a close call between the two most recent champs, The Handmaid’s Tale and Game of Thrones, and the nominations only confirmed that. Game of Thrones led the pack with 22 nominations, more than any other show, although two less than the previous two seasons. The Handmaid’s Tale, fresh off of its groundbreaking win, jumped up from 13 nominations to 20. The actors branch threw their support behind The Handmaid’s Tale with eight individual acting nominations – the most for a drama series since West Wing at its most popular.
The bigger surprise on the drama side was the shift in status of the underdog contenders. Before the nominations This Is Us felt like the obvious alternative to the top two contenders. The family drama is a pop culture phenomenon that broadcast television hasn’t seen in years and is fresh off of a SAG ensemble win. Instead the family drama diminished in nominations, failed to earn writing or directing nominations, and shockingly Chrissy Metz was left out of the supporting actress lineup.
Instead voters doubled down on their love for Westworld. After a confusing second season many expected the HBO series to drop in nominations especially now that it has to compete for craft awards against Game of Thrones. Instead Westworld earned 21 nominations only one less than last year. Even with an overwhelming number of nominations for its performances and creative team the writers and directors branch completely ignored the show hinting that it will have a hard time actually winning anything.
The Crown was a mixed bag with Emmy voters. The well-regarded costume drama received the same number of nominations as last year, thirteen total. At first there is a lot to celebrate; the ensemble received more nominations including Vanessa Kirby, Matt Smith, and Matthew Goode. However that means it received less support from the craft branches which is surprising for such a grand royal drama. With more support from the actors branch a surprise win is more and more likely especially for supporting actor nominee Matt Smith.
Heading into the nominations it was clear that the supporting actress race would be the bellwether of the drama series category. Actors make up a good portion of the television academy and the supporting actress category had so many possibilities that whatever they chose would likely imply their overall favorites. The Handmaid’s Tale was the clear winner with three supporting actress nominations – Ann Dowd, Alexis Bledel, and Yvonne Strahovski. Lena Headey earned a fourth nomination but her costars were shut out. Thandie Newton and Millie Bobby Brown were both nominated showing that voters still watch Westworld and Stranger Things.
The seven drama series nominees were so popular that there was barely any room to celebrate individual nominations for other shows. One of the major exceptions was the two nominations for breakout hit Killing Eve. Sandra Oh earned the sixth nomination of her career and made history as the first Asian-american actress to be nominated in the category. Pheobe Waller-Bridge also earned the first nomination of her career for writing. Although it will be harder for Killing Eve to win any award this year it is an indicator that voters are paying attention and that they might even embrace the show more next season. Ozark had a relatively strong showing with a lead actor nomination for Jason Bateman as well as two directing nominations. The only other random nominations were Tatiana Maslany and Mandy Patinkin who have both been nominated in the past.
Nominations By The Numbers
Game of Thrones – 22 Nominations (-2)
Westworld – 21 Nominations (-1)
The Handmaid’s Tale – 20 Nominations (+7)
The Crown – 13 Nominations (No Change)
Stranger Things – 12 Nominations (-8)
This Is Us – 8 Nominations (-2)
Ozark – 5 Nominations (New Series)
The Americans – 4 Nominations (No Change)
Homeland – 3 Nominations (No Change)
Killing Eve – 2 Nominations (New Series)