Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category if “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Big Little Lies” Were Competing Against “Game of Thrones” (Part 2)

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In part 1 of my Game of Thrones analysis, I questioned whether HBO and Hulu intentionally delayed the premieres of Big Little Lies and The Handmaid’s Tale until early June, right after the 2019 Emmy cycle ended to avoid going up against Game of Thrones in its final Emmy season, which is likely to pick up many of the awards where BLL and Handmaid’s compete in. Now I’m going to dissect HBO and Hulu’s decision.

There would be no doubt that both Big Little Lies and The Handmaid’s Tale will be nominated for Outstanding Drama Series when they return in the 2020 race, but the category where all three series would have collided the most is the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and if BLL and Handmaid’s were eligible this season, it would’ve made for quite an interesting race.

Currently in my early predictions, I have four actresses from Game of Thrones in the supporting actress category – Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, and Lena Headey. As recent as 2016, Clarke, Headey, and Williams were all nominated in this category against each other, losing to Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey). I’m adding Sophie Turner to this category this year even though she’s been excluded in the past, the #SansaHive seems to be at am all time high this season. Knowing HBO is throwing all its weight behind GoT this season, she may be able to squeeze out her first nomination for her role as fan favorite Sansa Stark.

Now this is where things would’ve been interesting if both Big Little Lies and The Handmaid’s Tale were in the race this year. In 2018, Handmaid’s also saw three of its actresses in the Supporting Actress race – Ann Dowd (who surprisingly, and deservedly won in 2017), Alexis Bledel (who won Guest Actress in a Drama Series for this role in 2017), and Yvonne Strahovski.

When Big Little Lies burst onto the scene in 2017, the same year The Handmaid’s Tale premiered, it took over the Emmys in the Limited Series/TV Movie category, winning 5 awards, which included Nicole Kidman in a lead role (winning against co-star Reese Witherspoon), and Laura Dern winning Supporting Actress against her co-stars Shailene Woodley. Since it has been renewed for a second season with the same cast continuing the plot from the first season, due to The Academy’s rules it must compete in the Drama race.

In my opinion, the Supporting Actress race could’ve been the single biggest factor leading HBO and Hulu delaying the launches of their respective series. Just imagine, even if Sophie Turner wasn’t nominated, it would be three actresses from GoT (Clarke, Headey, and Williams), and possibly three from Handmaid’s (Dowd, Strahovski, and Bledel). It’s important to mention that Meryl Streep is joining the cast of Big Little Lies in its second season, so let’s count that as an automatic nomination for her. Since season one aired, Zoe Kravitz, the only main actress not nominated from the original season, has seen her profile in Hollywood rise significantly and may be able to use that clout to secure her first Emmy nomination (which in my opinion would be well deserved over Shaliene Woodley). So that’s a minimum of three from BLL. 

Nine very deserving and realistic nominations for actresses from only three series, with only six, maybe seven slots to compete for! To jump ahead to the 2020 race, this is what the nominations may look like in the Supporting Actress race:

  • Laura Dern – Big Little Lies
  • Zoe Kravitz – Big Little Lies
  • Meryl Streep – Big Little Lies
  • Ann Dowd – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Yvonne Strahovski – The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Alexis Bledel – The Handmaid’s Tale

The category is already filled up, and we haven’t even factored in the return of 2018’s winner Thandie Newton (Westworld), Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Helena Bodham Carter (The Crown), and any new actresses from series that haven’t even premiered yet. Not only is 2019 going to be a hot race for Supporting Actresses in a Drama, but 2020 will be something to look forward to as well!

2019 Emmy nominations will be announced Tuesday, July 16th, get ready for a lot of coverage leading to the final day as potential nominees heat up or cool off.

Don’t forget, Follow TV Talk with JWalk on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date on the latest TV and Emmy coverage!

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