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Game of Thrones may now have a bigger Emmy obstacle than the exhaustive production schedule that kept it from being eligible for the 2017 ceremony. The TV Academy is quite fond of a new drama.
Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale walked away from Sunday night’s awards with both the top drama nod and a relative sweep in other key categories — including writing (Bruce Miller), directing (Reed Morano), supporting actress (Ann Dowd) and a best lead actress trophy for star Elisabeth Moss. It may not have been this Emmys‘ winningest TV series (winning one fewer than Saturday Night Live, when Creative Arts awards are factored in), but it’s clearly gained a lot of favor among voters and momentum is on its side. (The challenge is to keep it up in the second season.)
There was intense speculation leading into this year’s Emmys about which drama would fill Game of Thrones’ gap, and there was no shortage of eligible players. The race saw more new blood than it had in years, including Netflix’s The Crown (a Golden Globes breakout) and pop culture phenomenon Stranger Things. But neither made much of a dent in the festivities, save actor (and Emmy favorite) John Lithgow’s supporting win for The Crown.
The Handmaid’s Tale was just one of a slew of newcomers to earn Emmy gold this year. Donald Glover earned his first two Emmys for directing and starring in FX darling Atlanta. Sterling Brown also ensured that Big Four breakout This Is Us didn’t leave the night empty-handed. He won lead actor for his role on the NBC drama, making him the first broadcast performer to win the category since Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) in 2011. And Black Mirror creator Charlie Booker, a relative dark horse in the telepic race, won writing and best TV film for the “San Junipero” episode of his dark anthology.
It was a predictively big evening for Saturday Night Live and its season of skewering the 2016 election and the Trump presidency. Both Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon claimed respective supporting actor in a comedy wins, and Lorne Michaels got his first variety (sketch) series win in over two decades.
As for the ever-changing limited race, 2017 honors belong to HBO’s Big Little Lies. A win in the top category, one for directing and trophies for three of its three actors (Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard and Laura Dern) should light a fire under ongoing talks to turn the mini into a traditional drama with a second season.
But this being a Hollywood awards show, it wasn’t all new. Veep landed its third consecutive win for best comedy and star Julia Louis-Dreyfus took home her unprecedented sixth consecutive win for playing Selena Meyer. John Oliver also maintained his dominance in the late-night arena with writing and series wins for HBO’s Last Week Tonight — despite a hot year for Emmy host Stephen Colbert’s Late Show.