You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Emmys 2017: Embracing Genre Through ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Westworld’

Reaching for the crown from “Game of Thrones” when it comes to Emmy contenders in the sci-fi or fantasy genre this year are Netflix’s breakout “Stranger Things” and HBO’s high-concept “Westworld.” While such genre shows do not typically break through in the awards race, both are major contenders, having nabbed 18 and 22 nominations, respectively.

Matt and Ross Duffer, the brothers who co-created “Stranger Things,” credit the HBO epic that topped the list of Emmy noms just last year with helping shows like theirs get recognition from the creative community. “‘Game of Thrones’ really opened the door,” Ross says. “It let people see that genre shows are worthy.”

In fact, the desire to show just how strong storytelling could be in the television genre space is what led the Duffers to work in that medium. “We love genre, but in film if you make a genre film it has to all be about the genre,” Ross says. “We were excited to be able to tell more complex stories on television.”

While Matt acknowledges that it did take “Game of Thrones” a few years to break through, he and his brother were luckier to get the acclaim for their freshman season. “I’m sure we wouldn’t be here without ‘Game of Thrones,’” Matt says. “But I think it always goes back to our cast [too]. I think people fell in love with those kids and the characters in the show. And I like to think it was because there wasn’t anything like it on television, which I know because it was difficult to sell — because we had kids in lead roles, but it wasn’t a show for kids.”

According to “Westworld” co-creator and co-showrunner Lisa Joy, shows such as hers are now getting greater awards recognition because they are finally getting budgets on par with the level of stories being told.

“In genre, it’s actually a very ambitious landscape these types of movies and shows deal in because you’re creating worlds,” Joy says. “It’s not a small office drama or a procedural. You’re literally creating universes and times and places. That demands an ambition and scope to the production that previously people weren’t given.”

Good storytelling and strong characters will rise to the top regardless of the genre of the project being produced, she says. “I think [‘Westworld’] is resonant on a level that is, of course rooted in the genre, but I think is really relevant to a lot of people. All literature, TV and drama are basically cribbing off of mythology — these epic stories of man against the gods, [where] here our man just happens to be a robot, and the gods are humans, but the idea is the same. It’s ‘How do you survive in a world that is sometimes hostile and often unfair? And how do you do that with your moral code intact?’ I think the timelessness of those questions is what appeals.”

Though both “Stranger Things” and “Westworld” received critical acclaim during their runs, they face stiff competition in the drama series category in the form of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” NBC’s “This Is Us,” AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” and Netflix’s “The Crown” and “House of Cards.” Any one of them has the potential to win the category, but one thing is certain: genre shows such as “Westworld” and “Stranger Things” are proving to be forces to be reckoned with.

More TV

  • Daily Show Viacom

    Viacom, DirecTV Carriage Renewal Talks Continue as Blackout Looms

    UPDATED: Viacom and DirecTV executives are going down to the wire tonight on a combative contract renewal negotiation with high stakes for both sides. Talks were still going after the midnight ET deadline passed and the channels remain up on DirecTV. A team of Viacom executives led by Tom Gorke, exec VP and head of distribution [...]

  • ABBY'S -- "Pilot" Episode 101 --

    TV Review: 'Abby's' Starring Natalie Morales

    “Abby’s,” NBC’s new comedy about a cranky bartender (Natalie Morales) and her inner circle of regulars, is aware of the inevitable “Cheers” comparisons. Created by “New Girl” writer Josh Malmuth and executive produced by uber-producer (and unabashed “Cheers” superfan) Mike Schur, “Abby’s” therefore makes a few key choices in order to differentiate itself as its [...]

  • Ryan Murphy Walk of Fame

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Sets Premiere Date for Ryan Murphy's 'The Politician'

    In today’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for Ryan Murphy’s “The Politician” series, and Kristin Cavallari will host “Paradise Hotel” on Fox.  DATES Reality star Kristin Cavallari will host Fox’s reboot of “Paradise Hotel,” an unscripted dating show in which a group of singles will check into a tropical resort and compete to check [...]

  • 'Selling Sunset': Producer Behind Netflix's First

    'Selling Sunset': Producer Behind Netflix's First Docusoap on the State of Reality TV

    Netflix crossed another unscripted threshold on Friday with the launch of “Selling Sunset,” an 8-episode series that follows a group of real estate agents on the Sunset Strip. The show is believed to be the streaming service’s first docusoap, the now-ubiquitous format first popularized in the early 2000s by shows like MTV’s “Laguna Beach” and [...]

  • Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018

    Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018 Compensation Soar to $129.4 Million

    Discovery Inc. president-CEO David Zaslav is once again making headlines for an enormous compensation package. Zaslav’s 2018 compensation soared to $129.44 million in 2018, fueled by stock options and grants awarded as the longtime Discovery chief signed a new employment contract last July that takes him through 2023 at the cable programming group. Zaslav received [...]

  • 'Supernatural' to End After Season 15

    'Supernatural' to End After Season 15 on The CW

    “Supernatural” is ending after 15 seasons. Series stars Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and Misha Collins made the announcement in a video posted on Instagram on Friday. “We just told the crew that even though we’re very excited to be moving into our 15th season, it will be our last,” Ackles said. “15 years of a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content