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Emmys: No ‘Game of Thrones’ Means New Drama Champs Will Be Crowned

Variety logo Variety 7/13/2017 Kristopher Tapley
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There was an interesting byproduct of series like “Game of Thrones” and “Orphan Black” sitting out this year’s Emmy race, and others like “Mr. Robot” stumbling with voters this time around: all seven major drama competitions are without a defending champ.

HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which nearly over-shadowed the Thursday morning nominations announcement with a lavish season seven premiere at Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall Wednesday night, took the drama series crown last year. This year, with all that chain mail on the sidelines, the race will be between “Better Call Saul,” “The Crown,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “House of Cards,” “Stranger Things,” “This is Us” and “Westworld.”

Last year’s lead actor winner, meanwhile, was “Mr. Robot’s” Rami Malek. He was passed over this time, leaving Sterling K. Brown (“This is Us”), Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”), Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”), Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”), Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) and Milo Ventimiglia (“This is Us”) to duke it out.

Tatiana Maslany’s exciting win for “Orphan Black” won’t be duplicated in the lead actress field this year, with the show’s fifth season debuting too late to qualify. That race now pits presumed frontrunners Claire Foy (“The Crown”) and Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) against previous winner Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Keri Russell (“The Americans”), Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”) and Robin Wright (“House of Cards”).

The supporting races are absent their reigning champs, too, though Ben Mendelsohn shifted to the guest category for his “Bloodline” performance this year. Maggie Smith, meanwhile, rode off into the sunset last year along with the rest of “Downton Abbey’s” final season. “Game of Thrones” also won the writing and directing prizes last year, so other contenders will have a crack at it this time around.

This has happened in the past, with sweepers like “Breaking Bad” wrapping things up with stellar final seasons. But with a whopping five new shows pushing into the drama series category this year, and with peak TV providing a wide assortment for voters to choose from, it’s really no wonder these fields are due for a reboot.

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