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Drama Series Emmy battle: Newcomers ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ This Is Us’ are strong contenders

Gold Derby editors Marcus James Dixon, Rob Licuria, Amanda Spears and myself may each think we know it all when it comes to the Emmys — but here’s a little secret: we don’t. That’s why we’re slugging it out on what will not only fill the open drama slots vacated by “Downton Abbey” and two-time champ “Game of Thrones,” but also what new shows are likely to enter the race and which performers we’re predicting to win the four acting categories. Watch our 2017 Emmy slugfest above.

“I have omitted ‘Westworld’ too,” says Rob after learning that several of Gold Derby’s experts don’t have the show predicted in their Best Drama Series lineup. “I think it’s going to miss out and be one of the stories of the day.” While Marcus and I agree that “Westworld” may not get in, Amanda brings up a great point about the reason she has the HBO freshman sci-fi drama getting nominated: “When was the last time HBO was not in the Drama Series lineup? I can’t think of a year, and that’s why I’m keeping ‘Westworld’ in there.”

As for what will win Best Drama Series, Marcus is sticking by his bold prediction that NBC’s new hit series “This Is Us” will take the crown (pun intended). “It sustained buzz for a whole nine months, whereas these Netflix type shows are popular for like two weeks,” he asserts. I agree with him on “This Is Us” being the Drama Series frontrunner, but I also warn to not lose sight of SAG Ensemble winner “Stranger Things,” which also boasts a drama victory from the PGA.

On the acting side Rob remains high on last year’s Drama Actress nominee Keri Russell for FX’s “The Americans,” noting, “I think she could really give Claire Foy (‘The Crown’) and Elisabeth Moss (‘The Handmaid’s Tale’) a run for their money.” Marcus has Emmy and Oscar winner Viola Davis claiming her second trophy for ABC’s “How to get away with Murder.” I ponder whether Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”) can ride her “Hidden Figures” popularity and land another deserved nomination. And Amanda thinks the award should already have Moss’ name engraved on it, stating, “This is Elisabeth Moss’ best performance, ever.”

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UPLOADED May 11, 2017 9:29 am