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In 2019, HBO Remains the Network to Beat


Why This Matters: Emmy wins have become a vital marketing tool for top networks in the jam-packed TV environment.

Without massive hits like Game of Thrones or critical darlings like Veep on its slate, premium cable network HBO the first to smartly turn Emmy Awards wins into marketing gold might be out of the Emmy race in future years.

HBOs Game of Thrones

But not today.

In 2019, HBO is highly likely to score Emmys in the show's two biggest categories: outstanding drama and outstanding comedy, as well as have a fighting chance for outstanding limited series.

That dynamic begs a key question. Are the Emmys going to reward shows in their final season or embrace new shows? asks an awards strategist who declined to be named. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which backs the Golden Globes, loves to reward breakout shows, but the Emmys tend to be more about legacy.

GoT' Leads Drama Pack

The final season of Game of Thrones was controversial but however the fans felt about it, it was also the most jaw-dropping season of television ever produced. From cities being burned to the ground to dragons flying overhead, Game of Thrones' dominance at this year's Emmys is assured. Should Game of Thrones win this year, that would mark its fourth series win, including last year's. The epic fantasy series has been nominated every year it has been on the air.

Besides a wagon load of Creative Arts nominations especially in the technical and VFX categories look for Kit Harington to be nominated for lead actor, while Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau should be nominated in the supporting actor category. Harington's performance as the brooding Jon Snow is often criticized, but he was arguably the hero at the center of TV's biggest show.

Harington is expected to be joined in this category by Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk, who might win this year after being nominated three previous times for this role; as well as fellow Thrones veteran Richard Madden, the Golden Globes winner for Netflix's Bodyguard and Sterling K. Brown of NBC's This Is Us, who won in this category in 2017.

Meanwhile, Dinklage who should be competing in the lead actor category, considering his screen time in season eight is expected to take home his fourth supporting actor Emmy for this role come September. Dinklage has been nominated in this category every year that the show has aired. Among Thrones' women, Emilia Clarke, who played the ultimately doomed Daenerys Targaryen, should expect a nomination among the lead actresses, while Maisie Williams, whose Arya Stark evolved from tomboy to assassin over the show's run, is a good bet in the supporting actress category. And if there is justice for Arya, the hero of Winterfell should win. She is expected to face strong competition from her co-stars, Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) and Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), as well as from Ozark's Julia Garner.

Clarke, who really had to sell Daenerys' final turn to the dark side, will likely see competition from two other fierce women: Killing Eve's Sandra Oh and chameleon Jodie Comer.

BBC Americas Killing Eve

Speaking of BBC America's little-show-that-could, Killing Eve, that's another likely lock in the drama category, along with AMC's Better Call Saul, NBC's This Is Us, Netflix's Ozark, HBO's Succession and CBS All Access's The Good Fight (see chart). But even though peak TV is ever-peaking and there have never been more scripted series on the air, Game of Thrones remains the dominant favorite among dramas.

HBO is similarly positioned in comedy with two power players: Veep, which concluded its series run this season, and Bill Hader's auteur-driven Barry. Veep is no stranger to Emmys, having been named outstanding comedy for three out of six seasons with nominations for season seven still to be revealed. Star Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won for lead actress all six seasons, tying her with Cloris Leachman as the actor with the most Emmy wins with eight total.

Louis-Dreyfus' strongest competition this year is likely Rachel Brosnahan of Amazon Prime Video's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, last year's winner in this category. But Brosnahan and Maisel won last year when Veep was not in the race.

Other possibilities for lead comedic actress include Russian Doll's very-deserving Natasha Lyonne, Better Things' Pamela Adlon and Mom's Allison Janney, who already has seven Emmys for The West Wing, Masters of Sex and Mom and won the best-supporting actress Oscar in 2017 for I, Tonya.

On the men's side, Hader who writes, directs, executive produces and stars in Barry seems like a lock to repeat last year's win. That also holds true for co-star and emotional heart of the show Henry Winkler.

Hader's strongest competition will likely come from two-time Oscar winner Michael Douglas, who stars, along with Oscar winner Alan Arkin, in Netflix's The Kominsky Method. Douglas won the Golden Globe for this role in January. Ironically, both Barry and Kominsky feature acting schools in Los Angeles.

Don Cheadle in Showtimes Black Monday

Don Cheadle of Showtime's Black Monday and Ted Danson of NBC's The Good Place also are expected to grab nominations in the lead actor in a comedy category.

No Netflix Binge in '19

In general, Netflix's presence is likely to be less felt this go-round than it has been in recent years without entries such as The Crown, House of Cards or Stranger Things in the mix. Last year, Netflix beat HBO with 112 total nominations to HBO's 108, and the two tied for total wins with 23 each.

Netflix shows that should be in the mix, though, include dramas Ozark and Bodyguard and comedies The Kominsky Method and Russian Doll. Also possible are GLOW and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
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