Writers Guild of America set to kick off the television awards season

The Writers Guild of America will announce its annual television nominations this Thursday (Dec. 7) with its 70th film nominations to follow on Jan. 4, 2018. Winners for both will be announced at a ceremony on Feb. 11. Voting for television nominations opened Oct. 24 and closed Nov. 21. Unlike most other guilds that simply use the calendar year for eligibility, the WGA uses December to November, “regardless of how many episodes aired during this period.”

This means that the second season of “The Crown” that releases later this week will have to wait another year to contend and it might even be bundled with the third season if Netflix releases it in November as it did with the first season. The off-kilter calendar also means that “Westworld” is eligible because its first season finale, which is the episode that the Emmys nominated for Best Drama Writing, actually aired Dec. 4, 2016. However, “Westworld” might not have submitted for consideration, given that the first season was already nominated last year. It would not be the first time that an eligible HBO epic missed a cycle; the third season of “Game of Thrones” missed the nominating ballot in 2013 as a result of a submission error.

This will be the 13th year that the WGA will award a Best New Series. Exactly two of the five nominees on average per year have been comedies, although the WGA has nominated as many as four (2009) and as few as zero (2008, 2010). “Atlanta” became the fourth comedy in 12 years to win Best New Series Writing last year, defeating fellow comedy “Better Things” and dramas “Stranger Things,” “This is Us” and “Westworld.” “The Handmaid’s Tale” was the only new series from the first half of 2017 nominated at the Emmys. Other dramas contending for Best New Series Writing include “The Deuce,” “The Good Fight,” “Legion,” “Mindhunter” and “13 Reasons Why.” Comedies contending include “Dear White People,” “GLOW,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Santa Clarita Diet” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

The nominees for Best Drama Series Writing, Best Comedy Series Writing and Best New Series Writing are decided by a popular vote of the general WGA membership, but the nominees in the other television categories are decided by small volunteer panels that review specific scripts, as opposed to watching finished episodes like at the Emmys. The other primetime television categories are Best Drama Episode Writing, Best Comedy Episode Writing, Best Long Form Original Writing, Best Long Form Adapted Writing, Best Animation Writing, Best Variety Talk Series Writing, Best Variety Sketch Series Writing and Best Variety Special Writing.

These categories are prone to nominate acclaimed series that are otherwise ignored by industry awards. “The Leftovers” was nominated for each of its first two seasons exclusively in these races and contends now for its third and final season. Because of the different voting process, nominations in these categories are not indicative of the general races and vice versa. For example, “Better Call Saul” was triple-nominated for Best Drama Episode Writing last year, but it lost Best Drama Series Writing to “The Americans,” which had no individual scripts nominated.

“The Americans” is eligible to bag a second Best Drama Series Writing trophy, but Best Comedy Series Writing will have a different winner, as incumbent “Atlanta” last aired November 1, 2016. The previous winner was “Veep,” which also won for 2013. Curiously, neither “The Americans” nor “Veep” won Best New Series Writing when they were eligible. The shows that beat them — “House of Cards” (2013) and “Girls” (2012) respectively — remain eligible, but “Girls” has not been nominated in any category since that season and the WGA dropped “House of Cards” after its second.

Have you made your Screen Actors Guild Award predictions for television nominations yet? Log and edit them until nominations are announced on December 13. You can also predict other awards, like the Grammys, as well as reality shows like “Drag Race.”

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