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Emmys: What Creative Arts Wins Mean for Sunday’s Awards

Trying to read the tea leaves from the Creative Arts Emmys can be a risky proposition, but the tallies from this past weekend offer a few hints about how voters are thinking.

Following suit with its nominations haul, HBO emerged as the big winner, grabbing 19 trophies over the two-night presentation of awards in 92 categories. Multiple wins for “Westworld,” “Veep,” “Big Little Lies,” and “The Night Of” drove HBO’s success. It was followed closely by Netflix with 16 (“Stranger Things,” “The Crown,” “13th”).

All told, “Westworld” and “Stranger Things” left the Creative Arts with five wins apiece. The big question is: how will that impact the night’s top prize?

Simply put: Don’t count out broadcast. “This Is Us,” the Big Four’s first serious contender in years, has real momentum going into Sunday. The fact that the NBC series didn’t score any directing or writing noms was thought to be a slight against its chances in the drama race, but the win on Sunday Gerald McRaney as guest drama actor shows that it is definitely on voters’ radar. There’s a growing sense that Television Academy voters want to recognize a broadcast network drama (for the first time since “24” won in 2005), and this is finally their chance. The older skew of the TV Academy voters favors “This Is Us” in every way, and McRaney’s win echoes the sentimental factor at play.

The main competition for “This Is Us” is thought to be Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which earned three prizes over the weekend, but voters may well opt to recognize that show’s impact by rewarding Elisabeth Moss’ performance as best actress.

Still, don’t count out “Stranger Things.” The little show that could has plenty of momentum, too. Its five wins indicate that people really watched it and like it. It even won main title design over FX’s “Feud” — a surprise upset. Where else might the show break through? The industry’s enthusiasm for the show’s youthful cast of fresh faces could translate to a win in supporting drama actress for Millie Bobby Brown.

And where does “Westworld” stand? HBO’s fantasy thriller gobbled up the most noms of any scripted series with 22 and performed well over the weekend, but the buzz among voters is that it might be seen as too dark and too intense as compared to the competition (a similar complaint levied at “Handmaid’s”). Given the glut of screeners voters need to tackle, “Westworld” doesn’t lend itself to easy viewing. That may make it harder to take home the big prize of the night — drama series — but the scale of the show was recognized with craft awards on Sunday.

As for the rest of the drama nominees: despite its prestige factor, Netflix’s “The Crown” may suffer from having aired so long ago. And there’s little awards buzz around AMC’s “Better Call Saul” and Netflix’s “House of Cards” this time around.

The comedy race is another nail-biter. FX’s “Atlanta” may well be the critical favorite — and reigning Golden Globe champion — but here, too, voters may use the acting race to recognize Donald Glover for his work, and instead give the top prize to “Veep,” which earned three Creative Arts prizes.

In the tight limited series race, “Big Little Lies” and “Feud: Bette and Joan” are battling it out, with HBO’s entry grabbing three to FX’s two. But like with “American Horror Story,” voters may well recognize “Feud” with key craft awards (makeup, hair) but leave the top prizes to “Big Little Lies,” especially the acting trophy for Nicole Kidman for her star turn.

The other big winner at the Creative Arts Emmys was “Saturday Night Live” — indeed, it came as little surprise that Melissa McCarthy won as guest actress, which bodes well for the sketch series going into Sunday’s awards. It also racked up a win for Dave Chappelle for his effort as host. Given the tidal wave of political momentum, there’s little doubt that this “SNL” will be showered with Emmy love come Sunday night.

(Pictured: Gerald McRaney wins guest drama actor for “This Is Us” at Sunday’s Creative Arts Awards)

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