Emmy Awards drama showdown: What could take down ‘Game of Thrones’?

Sure, we all know that “Game of Thrones” is the frontrunner to win Best Drama Series at the Emmy Awards after nabbing a leading 23 nominations, including a series-best six acting bids.  But which of its competitors — “The Americans,” “Better Call Saul,” “Downton Abbey,” “Homeland,” “House of Cards” or “Mr. Robot” — has the best chance of taking it down? Let’s look at some of the telling signs revealed within this year’s crop of Emmy nominations.

2016 Emmy Awards: Complete list of nominations

The writing and directing races at the Emmys are often seen as a crystal ball that foretells what’ll win Best Drama Series and Best Comedy Series. “Game of Thrones” leads its competitors with two directing bids and one writing nom. “Downton Abbey” is the only other drama to appear in both of these key categories, with one bid in each. Meanwhile, “Homeland” pops up in directing while “The Americans” and “Mr. Robot” contend in writing.

Does that mean “Better Call Saul” (with its seven nominations) and “House of Cards” (with its 13 bids) are out of this race completely? Looking back through Emmy history, the last time a show won Best Drama Series without a corresponding writing or directing nom was “The Practice” in 1999. So, while it can happen, it’s just extremely rare.

PBS’s “Downton Abbey” earned an impressive 10 bids for its farewell season. However, it under-performed in the acting races, with only past champ Maggie Smith in contention;  it had been expected to have at least three or four of the cast in the running one last time. Still, the departing series has lots of love and support within the TV academy and it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to see it given a goodbye hug.

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USA Network’s “Mr. Robot” burst onto the scene this year with six nominations, including one for series star Rami Malek. While the show was snubbed in directing and for supporting player Christian Slater, count on intense buzz (new episodes will air during voting) to keep it in the Emmy conversation for the next couple of months.

FX’s “The Americans” shocked many awards pundits by finally earning major nominations on its fourth try at bat. The Best Drama Series nominee scored five in all including Best Writing and a trio of acting bids for Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell and Margo Martindale. Since it took so long for a major nomination, it may have to wait a big longer for the eventual win.

Showtime’s “Homeland” seems to be hanging onto this race by its fingernails, earning only four nominations for its fifth season: Best Drama Series, Best Actress (Claire Danes), Best Directing and Best Cinematography. For those keeping track at home, this 2012 Emmy champ is now up to 33 career noms and eight wins.

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