‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘Stranger Things’ among dramas vying for Emmy love

There is drama in the drama category this year at the 69th Emmy Awards show, which will be hosted by Stephen Colbert and air on CBS starting at 5 p.m. Sunday.

NEW YORK — Year after year, too many Emmy categories are laden with expected and oft-repeated winners. No drama then, when the envelope is torn.

But there is drama ahead in the drama categories that will be presented Sunday night.

Four of the seven nominated drama series are new on the scene. Consequently, at least half of the Best Drama Actress, Actor and Supporting Actor nominees come from freshman shows, as do no fewer than five of the six Best Supporting Actress drama nominees.

69th Emmy Awards show

Airs on CBS Sunday starting at 5 p.m. Host is Stephen Colbert.

No wonder the Best Drama field has confounded oddsmakers. Any one of those nominees could take home the trophy.

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Consider the wide range of contenders:

• “Better Call Saul.” On basic cable (AMC), with its third consecutive Best Drama nomination, yet thus far no Emmy wins in any category.

• “Westworld.” On premium cable (HBO). Its first year in contention.

• “The Handmaid’s Tale.” On a streaming channel (Hulu). Its first year in contention, and, potentially, Hulu’s maiden Emmy win.

• “House of Cards.” On a rival streaming channel already well-established with Emmy-winning content (Netflix), nominated for its fifth consecutive season.

• “Stranger Things.” Also on Netflix, in its first season.

• “The Crown.” Yet another Netflix entry, also in its rookie season.

• “This Is Us.” A freshman series on NBC, a broadcast network that scored its first Emmy in 1949 but which, along with the other legacy broadcasters, has been shut out of this category for years. (CBS’ “The Good Wife” was these broadcasters’ last drama series to be nominated, in 2011, and ABC’s “Lost” was the last to win, way back in 2005.)

Tom O’Neil, author of “The Emmys” reference book and editor of Gold Derby, an awards handicapping website, predicts “Stranger Things” will take the prize, but in the same breath he acknowledges that show is too young-skewing and too “genre” to be an Emmy slam-dunk. The drama category, he sums up, is “wide open. You could make a compelling argument for all seven nominees.”

But let’s set aside for a moment who will win, and focus on what these nominees say about TV…

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