Voting for the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards is now open, and despite many heavy-hitter dramas such as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Stranger Things” and “Westworld” sitting out this year’s race, submissions have actually increased in that series category.
Call it a sign of peak TV refusing to actually peak, but this year sees 165 entries in the drama series category (up from last year’s 159). This race has increased in competition, not only due to new series such as “Homecoming” and “Pose” being on the ballot for the first time, but also because of the rule change that saw previous anthology series bumped from limited series competition to drama (see: “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” and “The Sinner”). Recently canceled series such as “The Passage” and “The First” still submitted in drama, despite only being one season long, as well. Of course, the one series to watch most closely in this race is “Game of Thrones,” which took home the prize last time it was eligible in 2017 and is making its final run for the trophy this year.
The rule change regarding anthology series with crossover characters and settings also affected numbers on the comedy side, with former limited series contender “American Vandal,” for example, moving to comedy series. But overall, in the face of “Veep’s” final season, comedy series entries are down slightly from 2018: 108 series submitted this year, while last year saw 117 in the running.
Meanwhile, limited series count 35 on the ballot this year, with TV movies trailing with 21 entries. Interestingly, “Sacred Lies” is listed on the limited series ballot, despite Facebook Watch renewing it with a confirmation that it would follow a new character and story in its second season.
The absence of large ensembles such as the aforementioned “Handmaid’s Tale,” “Stranger Things” and “Westworld” means there are quite a few heavy-hitter performers who are sitting out this year’s race. However, that did not affect the overall numbers on the ballot as much as one might think. Yes, both the lead drama actor and lead drama actress are down — 108 actors this year, compared to last year’s 113; and 88 actresses, compared to last year’s 99. However, the supporting drama actor and supporting drama actress races, respectively, see a whopping 372 and 303 submissions.
Lead performers in the comedy categories are also on a decline: 86 performers were submitted in the lead comedy actor category this year, down from 2018, when there were 89 performers submitted, while 80 performers were submitted in the lead comedy actress category, as opposed to last year’s 85.
The return of “Veep” has undoubtedly helped push the submissions in supporting comedy actor and supporting comedy actress up this year. There, the respective tallies see 235 for the actors and 208 for the actresses.
Keeping the limited series and TV movie performers combined in one category (and including performers from live shows such as “Rent” and “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons'”) means 44 performers are up for spots on the limited series/TV movie lead actor ballot (up a smidge from 2018, when there were 42 submissions) and 50 for limited series/TV movie lead actress (also increased from 2018, when there were 44). On the supporting side of this ballot, there are 105 actors in the running and 94 actresses.
The Television Academy’s voting populace can review these ballots and make their selections through June 24th. The official nominees will be announced July 16.