With the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards arriving Sunday, Sept. 22, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles (airing on Fox/5 starting at 8 p.m.), I'm taking a closer look at some of the key races.
And as peak TV roars ahead, there are no shortage of races, key or otherwise. In the all-important drama category will "Game of Thrones" win its fourth award, or will some dark horse rob the most acclaimed series of the decade its victory lap? In comedy will "Veep" storm back to win a fourth best show Emmy, denying "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" a repeat?
The limited series race is especially exciting, and may come down to just two electrifying contestants, Ava Du Vernay's "When They See Us," and HBO's "Chernobyl." The actor categories in both comedy and drama appear to be wide open, or are they? We'll handicap those, but don't be surprised if the 71st will be truly dominated by just one name: Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
In this age of TV profusion, the Emmys have assumed greater prominence than perhaps at anytime in TV history. For shows, showrunners and stars, these are a way to stand above and beyond the surging crowd. They don't simply confer prestige. They confer attention. For the major streaming services, they bring a third benefit: Subscribers. The battle between Netflix (117 Emmy nods) and HBO (137) is not just pitched, but now has the semblance of a blood match. Netflix knows the time to win and win big is now, because HBO's new streaming service, HBO Max, will launch next spring. Meanwhile, it will have to contend with Apple TV Plus in just a few more weeks (launch date: Nov. 1). The nominally good news for Netflix: HBO will have to contend with it too.
So as you watch Sunday, don't necessarily think of these as nice awards to be placed on some winner's mantelpiece. They are field pieces in a raging battle. Who will win? Who will lose? Let's find out.