So there are four series that rose to the top of the nominations. I really thought Westworld was breaking through when it got both Harris and Wright into Best Actor, both well-deserved. Then it missed writing and directing, and that hurts its otherwise impressive haul. So the four are in ascending order, Stranger Things. It got everything it needed to. But if it couldn't win last year when the buzz was at a fever pitch I don'think it wins this time. A surprise number three is The Crown. It added another nomination to its impressive first season haul. It got in Vanessa Kirby and Matt Smith which most folks were either not predicting or they were borderline, and still impressed in the crafts, directing, and writing. With all of the genre pieces this year, The Crown could sneak through without any of us noticing. Game of Thrones is a close number two. It made a gamble by moving Harrington and Clarke to lead, and it did not pay off. It still led the nominations, and it has everything it needs. But that showed weakness. Especially since HBO's second gamble with the Westworld guys paid such rewarding dividends. So that leaves The Handmaid's Tale in first place. It is not as strong this year with Game of Thrones returning, and the fact that its second season has not been as critically strong as its first. In fact, its last episode premiered on Hulu this week, and so far the reviews have not been too kind. This could hurt it in a close race. The rest of the field, The Americans, This is Us, and Westworld were all expected. In Drama Actor, Liev Schreiber and Harrington missed out for the inclusion of Ed Harris (who missed last year but got in the second time around), and Jason Bateman, who got in despite a lot of controversy surrounding him. He actually was a part of a bigger trend for Ozark which stole directing nods away from Westworld, and ended up with five nods overall. In Lead Actress, big snubs for Mandy Moore (proof that This is Us is not as strong as we though), and replaced by previous winner Tatiana Maslany. A note, the fantastic Sandra Oh becomes the first Asian-American actress ever nominated for Best Actress in a Drama Series. Congrats to one of the best! The Supporting Actor category saw the snubs of Anthony Hopkins (which makes sense) and Justin Hartley (another weak showing for This is Us), and instead the inclusion of Joseph Fiennes (part of the big acting expansion for The Handmaid's Tale), and surprise nominee Matt Smith, which showcased the power of The Crown down-ballot this year. The biggest category shakeups this year for Drama was Supporting Actress. Even with seven nominations, Chrissy Metz was left off (the final straw for This is Us), and Strahovski and Kirby got in on the strength of their performances and their shows. This might help Headey and Newton breakthrough the three nominees for Handmaid's Tale.
Atlanta WAY over-performed here, with Katt Williams, Zazie Beetz, and some nice technical nods to boot. But we have seen this before, with shows like Transparent and Orange is the New Black do this, only to lose to the funnier competition. So watch out for Mrs. Maisel, which did exactly what it needed to and should not be discounted, especially with Amazon spending so much money on its campaign. The biggest disappointment here was Will & Grace, for me at least. Especially after the mediocre return of Curb Your Enthusiasm and the limping along Silicon Valley. The only other contender here that I think could spoil the party is Barry. It way over-performed as well, and proves HBO is still the king. It is the only one that got both writing and directing besides the top two. The acting races proved to be chocked full of surprises. In Actor, Erik McCormack was replaced by the legendary Ted Danson. I hate that they could not make room for Debra Messing, but Issa Rae's nomination is my favorite one of the list, and is so well-deserved. I don't think anyone is winning over Brosnahan, and that is well-deserved, but I hope Issa gives her a run for her money. In the bloodbath that is now the end of Will & Grace's Emmy chances, somehow Sean Hayes was left out. This leaves this race wide-open, with some surprise inclusions such as Kenan Thompson, and the legendary Henry Winkler, who just went from just missing out to potentially winning a way overdue Emmy. Supporting Actress was so stacked it took 8 nominees to stack them all in, adding in Aidy Bryant and Zazie Beetz joining the predicted six.
Limited Series, TV Movie, etc.
These categories are so screwed up, I don't know what Emmy voters were thinking. The fact that Howard's End and The Looming Tower lost out to Picasso and The Alienst, shows that these categories might seriously be broken. More on these later.