After the TV Academy members for decades had been reluctant to award genre series, except for Lost, with the best drama Emmy trophy, they crowned HBO’s fantasy series Game Of Thrones a drama series winner the last two years. With GoT on the sidelines this year because of the long hiatus between Seasons 6 and 7, two other drama series — Netflix’s Stranger Things and HBO’s Westworld — are aiming to keep the genre drama Emmy streak alive, taking an early lead with five wins each at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards this weekend. Also gaining momentum going into the main Emmy telecast next Sunday is NBC veteran Saturday Night Live, which also walked away with five Emmys.
HBO as usual was the network leader after two nights of Creative Emmy Awards with 19 trophies. This time, Netflix is close behind at 16, with everyone else in the single digits.
Stranger Things won the Casting For a Drama Series category tonight, which sometimes is a harbinger of a best series win. That was the case the last two years with GoT, which swept both categories each time. Similarly, Veep also won the Casting In a Comedy Series Emmy the last two years en route to a best comedy series trophy. The HBO comedy nabbed its third consecutive casting win tonight as it is seeking a third consecutive best comedy series Emmy.
Six of the seven best drama series Emmy contenders registered wins tonight. In addition to Stranger Things, whose nods included main title design and music, and Westworld, recognized for visual effects, hair and makeup, that includes two other hot newcomers which topped the guest star acting categories — Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale (Alexis Bledel) and NBC’s This Is Us (Gerald McRaney). This marks the first ever acting Emmy award for Hulu.
Handmaid’s Tale won a total of three Emmys, followed by the remaining freshman drama in the top category, The Crown, with two, and veteran House Of Cards, with one. The last best drama series nominee, Better Call Saul, is starting the Emmy race at zero after the Creative Arts portion.
While off to a promising start with leading five Emmys each, Stranger Things and Westworld are nowhere near the heights of fellow genre drama GoT, which bagged nine statuettes at the Creative Emmys last year on its way to matching its own record from the previous year of 12 Emmy awards in a single year.
Along with the hot drama newcomers this year, there is NBC’s venerable late-night sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live, which tied Westworld with the most Emmy nominations, 22 — a record for a variety series — and now tied Westworld and Stranger Things for most wins, 5, heading into the September 17 telecast.
Coming off its most watched season in 23 seasons fueled by its popular political parodies, SNL started its Emmy campaign strong this weekend, sweeping the best comedy actor and actress category for the second time with wins for hosts Dave Chappelle and Melissa McCarthy. SNL has a chance to also sweep the supporting comedy series actor and actress categories next Sunday with Alec Baldwin and trio of female cast members in the running: reigning Emmy winner Kate McKinnion, Leslie Jones and Vanessa Bayer.
And that’s not all. SNL has a legitimate shot at the Variety Sketch Comedy series category. The last time SNL won a best program category was almost a quarter century ago, in 1993. It was for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series, and sharing the award alongside SNL honcho Lorne Michaels was current Sen.Al Franken. For years since, SNL had been overshadowed by variety talk series, which it shared a category with. Since the field was split three years ago, the best variety sketch series was won by Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer and Key & Peele. Neither of them is on the air, and while the competition is still stiff (Michaels has three of the six nominees – SNL, Portlandia and Documentary Now!), SNL is well positioned to cap one of its most successful seasons ever with one of its best Emmy showings ever.
In the limited series category where HBO’s Big Little Lies is facing off against FX’s Feud, BLL has the edge heading into next weekend with 3 vs. 2 wins. BLL‘s trophies included Casting for a Limited Series, Movie or Special, whose winner in the past almost always had gone on to win a best program Emmy.
Here is how the program and network Emmy tallies look heading into next weekend: