Emmys: Why Past Winners Like 'Big Little Lies' and 'Handmaid's Tale' Weren't Nominated in Major Categories This Year

The Handmaid's Tale S03E08 Still 2 - Publicity - H 2019
Jasper Savage/Hulu

The awards' eligibility period leaves out new, much-discussed series that premiered in June (like 'Euphoria' and Showtime's Roger Ailes mini 'The Loudest Voice') and means shows that are airing their latest season this summer ('GLOW,' 'Pose,' 'Orange Is the New Black,' 'Succession') will be considered for their previous season, which aired during the summer of 2018.

When the 2019 Emmy nominations are announced on Tuesday morning, casual TV viewers may be surprised to see that a number of past winners, some of which are airing their latest seasons now, won't be among the nominees.

In order to qualify for the 2019 Primetime Emmy Awards, a program had to air between June 1, 2018, and May 31, 2019. That eligibility period covers the traditional broadcast TV season and means any series that debuted by May 31 of this year could be considered.

But a number of past Emmy winners — Baskets, Big Little Lies, The Handmaid's Tale, Jessica Jones and Stranger Things — chose to debut their latest seasons in June, or early July in Stranger Things' case, meaning none are eligible for this year's awards. The Handmaid's Tale, however, was able to submit some later episodes from its last season in categories like directing, writing, guest acting and technical areas, due to the Television Academy's "hanging episodes" rule and the fact that a handful of Handmaid's season two episodes aired after the voting period for last year's Emmy nominations.

The fifth season of Idris Elba's Emmy-nominated series Luther also premiered in the U.S. just after this year's eligibility period ended.

The following 2018 Emmy-nominated (and -winning) series didn't air a new season during this year's eligibility period and haven't yet announced the premiere dates for their next seasons: Atlanta, The Crown, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Silicon Valley and Westworld.

While the presence of the final season of Game of Thrones among this year's Emmy contenders was rumored to have contributed to the production and scheduling delays that pushed a number of Emmy contenders into next year's eligibility period, Hulu's senior vp originals, Craig Erwich, said earlier this year that the delay for The Handmaid's Tale, which became the first streaming original to win best drama series in 2017 when Game of Thrones wasn't eligible, stressed that the delay was simply due to quality control.

"Maintaining the quality of The Handmaid's Tale, which is impeccable, takes time," he told reporters at the winter Television Critics Association press tour. "We wanted to give the show enough time to maintain the incredibly high standards of storytelling set in seasons one and two. The season three episodes — all of them — [will be] eligible for the Emmy body when the show is qualified."

The delays mean that a number of high-profile categories could have a significantly different collection of nominees than they did in 2018, as roughly half of that year's nominees in some categories aren't eligible this year.

But that creates an opportunity for other series to be nominated, like Ryan Murphy's latest, acclaimed FX show Pose, which due to the Emmys' eligibility period is being considered for its first season, which premiered in June 2018, not its current season, which didn't premiere until June of this year.

Other series airing new seasons over the summer that were considered for their past seasons, which aired last summer, include GLOW, Orange Is the New Black and Succession.

And while Black Mirror's interactive film Bandersnatch is eligible for Emmys this year, the new episodes that premiered June 5 won't be eligible until 2020.

Similarly, the eligibility period eliminates much-discussed new programs like HBO's racy Euphoria and Showtime's Roger Ailes limited series The Loudest Voice, which both premiered in June, from consideration for the 2019 Primetime Emmys. Both should be eligible for Emmys consideration in 2020.