Good news, Emmy rivals: ‘Game of Thrones’ won’t be eligible in 2017

HBO just announced that “Game of Thrones” will begin production of its seven-episode seventh season in a few weeks, but it won’t air until next summer. And that sound you hear is the popping of corks as the producers of “House of Cards,” “Better Call Saul,” “Mr. Robot” and “The Americans” toast the fact that “Game of Thrones” won’t have any new episodes in the next Emmy cycle, thereby opening the door for another show to take top honors in 2017.

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“Game of Thrones” has been nominated for Best Drama Series every year since its debut in 2011. Not only did it finally win Best Drama in 2015, it won 11 other awards as well, setting a new record for the most awards for a series in a single year. And it could potentially break its own record this year. It’s now up for another 23 awards, including first-time acting bids for supporting players Kit Harington and Maisie Williams and guest star Max von Sydow.

Casey Bloys, president of HBO programming, explains the delay thus: “Now that winter has arrived on ‘Game of Thrones,’ executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss felt that the storylines of the next season would be better served by starting production a little later than usual, when the weather is changing. Instead of the show’s traditional spring debut, we’re moving the debut to summer to accommodate the shooting schedule.”

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But does taking a year off from the Emmys mean that the show’s awards momentum is stalled for good? Not necessarily. As TV has evolved and production standards have become more demanding, other shows have taken extended breaks between seasons. “The Sopranos” was out of contention in 2002 because of a long hiatus between seasons three and four, and the show was absent again in 2005 due to another super-sized break between seasons five and six. Not only did “The Sopranos” maintain its Emmy strength, it actually won Best Drama twice (2004, 2007).

“Breaking Bad” also took time off, sitting out the 2011 race during its hiatus between seasons three and four. It came back strong and also ended up winning twice for Best Drama (2013, 2014). Several other shows like “Curb your Enthusiasm” and this year even “Fargo” have skipped Emmy cycles without missing a step. So next year’s Emmy contenders had better make it count because “Game” will be back to reclaim its throne in 2018.

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