If absence truly makes the heart grow fonder, a number of Emmy heavy-hitters will be well-positioned for comebacks at next year’s awards. But for the 2018 ceremony, that means there’s room for new blood in key races — notably drama and comedy.
Emmy favorites including HBO’s “Veep,” AMC’s “Better Call Saul” and Netflix’s “House of Cards” all sat out this Emmy eligibility season — which ends May 31 — for a variety of reasons.
“Better Call Saul” earned nine nominations in 2017, including drama series and lead actor for Bob Odenkirk. But the writing process that fuels the creativity of the “Breaking Bad” prequel’s exec producers Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould led to a later-than-usual start of production, so season four won’t make this year’s cut.
Netflix’s “House of Cards” is also sitting out this year after star (and perennial nominee) Kevin Spacey’s sexual-harassment scandal. The show is retooling and will center around Robin Wright when it returns, but it will not do so in time for this year’s awards.
The rest of the drama slate remains intact: Last year’s winner “The Handmaid’s Tale” is still eligible, as are other returning contenders “Stranger Things,” “Westworld,” “This Is Us” and “The Crown.” And “Game of Thrones” is back in the race, having sat out last year’s competition.
There’s a trickle-down effect on the acting categories for drama, with “Better Call Saul” stars (Bob Odenkirk in lead and Jonathan Banks in supporting) sitting out, along with Spacey and Wright for lead actor and actress for “House of Cards.” Anthony Hopkins is not in the second season of “Westworld,” so his slot on the ballot is up for grabs, as is his co-star Jeffrey Wright’s supporting spot. Wright is being submitted for lead this year.
The supporting categories will see further shakeup because last year’s winner John Lithgow was not in enough episodes of “The Crown’s” second season to qualify, nor was nominee Ron Cephas Jones for his turn on NBC’s “This Is Us.”
On the comedy side, HBO’s political hit “Veep” earned 17 nominations and five wins in 2017, including comedy series for the third consecutive year and lead actress for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who set a new record with her own sixth consecutive win in the same role. The show took an elongated hiatus after its penultimate season as Louis-Dreyfus underwent chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer, putting pause on the upcoming final season’s Emmy eligibility.
That’s not the only open slot on the comedy slate: “Master of None” isn’t in contention this year, and “Transparent’s” fate is cloudy given the sexual-harassment allegations against star Jeffrey Tambor. Last year’s winner “Atlanta” is returning, alongside nominees “Black-ish” and longtime Academy favorite “Modern Family” — but there’s definitely room for Golden Globe winner “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon) to make its Emmy debut, as well as Showtime’s “SMILF,” which also resonated with Globes voters.
The pattern continues in the comedy acting races as well: Aziz Ansari isn’t in the running for “Master of None,” and Amazon has opted to pull Tambor out of the race for “Transparent.” (Although, technically he is also eligible for his role on Netflix’s “Arrested Development.”) “Veep’s” absence means nominees Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, Matt Walsh and Tony Hale won’t be eligible for their work on the show — though Hale stands a chance for his work on Netflix’s “Arrested Development,” which is returning for its fifth season just ahead of the Emmy deadline.
The limited series category will also see new contenders, with familiar franchises like FX’s “Fargo” sitting out this year. HBO dominated the limited series categories with “Big Little Lies” last year, earning eight statues overall — but season two of the Nicole Kidman/Reese Witherspoon project is in production. The second installment of Ryan Murphy’s “Feud” is also in the works, and there’s no word yet on a potential follow up to HBO’s “The Night Of.”
But “American Crime Story” is back again with the Versace edition, as is Nat Geo’s “Genius,” focused this time on painter Pablo Picasso. They’ll be up against newcomers “The Sinner” from USA, “Top of the Lake: China Girl” from Sundance and Hulu’s fact-based “The Looming Tower.”