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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is Still Entering the Emmy Race, Even if the Series Isn’t Eligible

“The Handmaid’s Tale” isn’t sitting this Emmy season out after all. Although the Hulu drama won’t return for Season 3 until June — making the series itself ineligible for Emmy contention this year — a few leftover episodes from Season 2 will still be up for consideration.

Because the final three episodes of Season 2 fell outside the eligibility window, those episodes are instead in contention for 2019 Emmys. Hulu has now revealed who will be submitted for those episodes: In the outstanding directing for a drama series category, Daina Reid (episode 211, “Holly”) and Mike Barker (episode 213, “The Word”) will be in contention.

Also submitted, in the outstanding writing for a drama series category: Bruce Miller and Kira Snyder, for “Holly.”

“Handmaid’s” outstanding guest actress in a drama submission will go to Cherry Jones, for playing Holly Maddox (June’s mother) in “Holly.” Bradley Whitford, who played Commander Joseph Lawrence in episode 12, “Postpartum,” will be submitted for outstanding guest actor in a drama.

Jones was also nominated last year in the same category; she won an Emmy in 2009 for “24.” Whitford has been nominated for five Emmys, winning in 2001 for “The West Wing,” and as guest actor in 2015 for “Transparent.”

The unusual nature of “Handmaid’s Tale” still being up for Emmys is due to the Television Academy’s “hanging episodes” rule. According to the org, “if an ongoing series has enough episodes in the current eligibility year to qualify as a series and has one or more episodes that are part of the series season, included the season/series finale, that fall into the subsequent eligibility year, the ‘hanging episodes’ that are in a contiguous rollout on the same distribution platform join in eligibility the already-qualified-as-eligible episodes of the series, as long as the hanging episodes air prior to the start of nomination-round voting.”

That’s why last year’s episodes 8, 9, and 10 were eligible for 2018 Emmy consideration: Even though they aired in June, past the traditional May 31 cutoff, they were still eligible to be lumped with the first seven episodes of the season.

But episodes 11, 12, and 13 aired after nomination ballots were out, making them ineligible and pushing them to 2019. Those can be considered this year because of another rule: “individual achievement eligibility for ‘orphaned’ episodes of a series that has previously qualified for series program eligibility may be eligible so long as the entry complies with the specific eligibility rules for the category.”

Meanwhile, new rule changes effective in 2019 will make it even easier for networks and studios to include their “hanging episodes” as part of that year’s Emmy consideration — as long as those episodes run in June. (That wouldn’t have helped last year’s final two “Handmaid’s Tale” episodes, which premiered in July.)

Per the new rules, hanging episodes can be posted on the network’s platform by May 31 in order to gain eligibility for the current eligibility year as long as only TV Academy members can access them (on a private online platform); the episodes are the same as when they are officially made available to the public; and as long as the shows are made public in June.

Multi-year eligibility for series is rare at the Primetime Emmys, but is becoming more common as cable, streaming, and even broadcast networks opt to launch shows late in the traditional TV season. The Grammy Awards often faces such issues, as artists will frequently release singles in one eligibility year, while the album comes in another cycle.

Other categories that “The Handmaid’s Tale” will compete in this year include cinematography for a single camera series (one hour), production design for a narrative contemporary program (one hour or more), fantasy/sci-fi costumes, music composition for a series, hairstyling for a single-camera series, makeup for a single-camera series (non-prosthetic), sound editing for a comedy or drama series (one hour), single-camera picture editing for a drama series, and prosthetic makeup for a series, limited series, movie or special.

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