DGA Awards for TV: ‘Game of Thrones’ v. ‘Stranger Things’ & ‘Veep’ v. ‘Atlanta’

With odds of 4/9, “Game of Thrones” is the overwhelming favorite to win Best Drama Directing for the second year in a row at this Saturday’s DGA Awards. But watch out for “Stranger Things.” Sure, it sits in last place at 28/1 but this freshman series overcame similarly dire odds to take the top prizes at both the PGA and SAG Awards last weekend. “Game of Thrones” had been favored to prevail at both for its Emmy-winning sixth season.

DGA TV nominees include Ryan Murphy and Duffer Brothers

The “Game of Thrones” episode in contention at the DGA — “Battle of the Bastards” by Miguel Sapochnik —  won Best Drama Directing at the Emmys, which shares voters with DGA. However, “Game of Thrones” faced entirely different competition at those top TV honors.

As “Stranger Things” did not premiere until the second half of 2016, it will compete for the first time at the upcoming Emmys. This is also true of “Westworld,” which ranks fourth at 20/1. Rounding out the category (and ranking immediately behind “Game of Thrones” in the odds) are two episodes of “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” While that program contended as a limited series at the 2016 Emmys, the DGA has inexplicably classified it a drama, despite previously nominating the second season of fellow FX anthology “American Horror Story” as a miniseries.

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While “The People v. O.J. Simpson” may fall victim to to vote-splitting, it was popular enough to get two episodes nominated and that might be indicative of how far ahead it is of its competitors. Except for “Homeland” (2012), double-nominated dramas have prevailed in recent years:“Boardwalk Empire” (2010);“Breaking Bad” (2013); and “Homeland” (2014).

Vote-splitting is more likely to be detrimental in the Best Comedy Directing race, where “Atlanta” is favored at 4/7 over a pair of “Silicon Valley” episodes and a pair of “Veep” episodes. This two-two-one dynamic has previously played out at DGA five times on the comedy side and twice for drama. It has resulted in the single-nominated series winning four out of seven times, so “Silicon Valley” and “Veep” should not be counted out yet, although Gold Derby’s Experts, Editors and Users have certainly counted out the former. Only four people out of the almost 900 who have logged their predictions in this race are betting on a win for “Silicon Valley.” “Veep” has better odds; it did win this award last year for its single nomination.

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At last year’s Emmys, “Silicon Valley” and “Veep” also each received multiple nominations for Best Comedy Directing; they lost to the lone episode nominated from “Transparent.” Having awarded that series in this race two years ago, the DGA snubbed it altogether this year for “Atlanta,” which will contend at the upcoming Emmys for its debut season.

“Atlanta” already has proven to be a formidable awards contender not only taking the Best Comedy Series prizes from journalist organizations (the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice), but also from the Producers Guild of America, an industry group that shares voters with the Emmys. The nominated “Atlanta” episode — “B.A.N.” — is the only one from the first season in which star Donald Glover does not appear; he directs instead, taking the reins from lead helmer Hiro Murai. The episode breaks from the series’ narrative format, playing as an episode of show-within-a-show “Montague” — complete with fake commercials — on the fictional Black American Network.

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Be sure to make your DGA predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our DGA odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on Feb 4. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the DGA Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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