It’s the 70th edition of the Primetime Emmy Awards this year and while some will be up to watch the ceremony in the early hours of Tuesday morning – fawning over who’s wearing what and who’s arriving with whom and waiting for some off-colour jokes from the hosts – this years awards also represent a number of milestones in television history. Foremost of these is the dominance of the streaming services, which have so radically changed television over the last few years. Netflix supersedes cable rivals HBO for the first time with 112 nominations to HBO’s 108. This gives the streaming giant a good chance to take home its first coveted award for outstanding drama series, won last year by rival streaming service Hulu for The Handmaid’s Tale. However, HBO still has a number of reliable winners in its stable including Game of Thrones and Westworld.
Here are a few of the things to look out for beyond the red carpet:
Outstanding Drama Series:
This is the holy grail of the Emmy Awards and this year sees a tough seven-show shortlist that features no new shows – only new seasons of shows which have previously won or been nominated. Last year’s winner The Handmaid’s Tale had a difficult and mixed second season but that may be still be enough for Hulu to take the award for a second year. The only network show on the list is This is Us, while Netflix is banking on either The Crown or Stranger Things to bring home the award. HBO has previous winner Game of Thrones – always a favourite and leading the nominations with 22 nominations - and Westworld’s second season in its corner.
Outstanding Comedy Series:
Since 2010 this category has been scooped by Modern Family and HBO’s Veep but with both of those out of the running for this year it’s a whole new race. In fact whichever show wins out of the 8 nominees will do so for the first time. Three shows – Glow, Barry and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel are first time nominees and the other five – Silicon Valley, Atlanta, Black-ish, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Curb Your Enthusiasm have never won before.
More than a third of the 101 nominations for this year’s awards are to actors of colour. They include Issa Rae, star and creator of Insecure, Donald Glover – star and creator of Atlanta and Sandra Oh, who is the first actor of Asian descent to be nominated for her performance in Killing Eve. The Emmys have taken a lead in addressing the issue of diversity that Hollywood will hopefully follow when nominations for the Oscars are announced early next year. If Issa Rae or Black-ish’s Tracee Ellis Ross take home the best actress in a comedy award, this will mark the first time that an African American has won since Isabel Sanford for The Jeffersons in 1981.