Emmy shakeup: Will ‘Stranger Things’ & ‘Westworld’ benefit from ‘Game of Thrones’ ineligibility?

When HBO announced that Season 7 of “Game of Thrones” would air outside of the 2016-2017 Emmy eligibility period, every other TV network let out a huge sigh of relief. Not only does the “Game of Thrones” absence mean that we’ll likely see a new winner as Best Drama Series (“Homeland” is the only other former champ still on the air), but that a whopping 23 open slots will need to be replaced across all of the acting, writing, directing and below-the-line races. Might buzzy genre shows “Stranger Things” and “Westworld” benefit the most from “Game of Thrones'” ineligibility?

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Netflix’s “Stranger Things” boasts two huge precursor victories that make it a threat to inherit the title from “Game of Thrones”: the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Drama Ensemble and the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Drama Series. That SAG triumph is notable as much of the cast is comprised of previously unknown child actors, suggesting the show is just so insanely popular that voters couldn’t resist. That’s key because the Emmy Awards no longer have ranked ballots, so winners are chosen simply by a plurality vote — something popcorn contenders may benefit from.

A pair of “Stranger Things” supporting actresses — Millie Bobby Brown and Winona Ryder — are predicted to earn Emmy nominations in the absence of “GoT” players Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke and Maisie Williams. This sci-fi drama set in the 1980s is also a frontrunner to score writing and directing Emmy bids thanks to their nominations from the WGA and DGA precursor kudos.

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HBO’s “Westworld” seems to be that network’s most likely chance of replacing its own “Game of Thrones” on the Emmy ballot. With critical accolades and fan obsession, this sci-fi western also made its mark on many of this year’s TV precursors, including SAG, WGA and DGA. Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton took home the lead and supporting prizes at the Critics’ Choice Awards, respectively, and both ladies are now in prime position to earn Emmy bids for their roles as robots.

Also watch out for Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins to earn an acting nomination, though he was snubbed at the earlier kudos. Among the below-the-line races, there’s nothing Emmy voters love more than period pieces, and both “Westworld” and “Stranger Things” fit that bill. We should expect nominations in many of those categories, including casting, cinematography, costumes, editing, makeup, hairstyling, production design, sound, stunts and visual effects.

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Of “Game of Thrones'” 23 Emmy nominations last year, it was strangely snubbed for Best Music for composer Ramin Djawadi, so we’ll be keeping a close eye to see whether Djawadi’s score for “Westworld” or Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein‘s music for “Stranger Things” can pick up that additional slot. Djawadi’s recent nationwide “GoT” concert should help keep his name top of mind as voting commences.

Other freshman drama series likely to benefit from the Emmy shakeup include “13 Reasons Why” (Netflix), “American Gods” (Starz), “Chance” (Hulu), “The Crown” (Netflix), “Designated Survivor” (ABC), “Goliath” (Amazon), “The Good Fight” (CBS All Access), “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu), “Legion” (FX), “Sneaky Pete” (Amazon), “This Is Us” (NBC) and “Z: The Beginning of Everything” (Amazon). See Emmy racetrack odds for all of these dramas.

Predict the Emmy nominees now; change them until July 13

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on July 13. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums.

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