2018 Emmy nominations slugfest: Are ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ really the shows to beat for Best Drama? [WATCH]

Of all the returning Emmy contenders for Best Drama Series, Gold Derby contributor Tom O’Brien believes that “The Handmaid’s Tale” “is the one show that is going to have a significant bump up in nominations.” The Hulu original swept last year, winning 8 of its 12 bids and making history as the first streaming series to clinch the top prize. It’s expected to repeat this season, but it’ll have to defend its crown against HBO’s juggernaut “Game of Thrones,” which won the award in 2015 and 2016 before taking an Emmy hiatus in 2017. But even if “Handmaid’s” significantly increases its nominations haul, O’Brien adds “it’s still going to be tough to rival the below-the-line [nominations] that ‘Game of Thrones’ will mark up,” which could make for a fierce competition.

O’Brien hashed out the Emmy race with fellow contributors Riley Chow, Zach Laws, and Amanda Spears in a recent slugfest. Watch the entire video above, which also covers the races for Best Drama Directing and Best Drama Writing.

SEE 2018 Emmy nominations slugfest: What’s out front to win Best Limited Series and Best TV Movie? [WATCH]

Last year’s Emmys were unusual with five freshman shows — “The Crown,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Stranger Things,” “This Is Us,” and “Westworld” — breaking into Best Drama Series. That was surprising given the TV academy’s tendency to nominate the same shows year after year. So will all five of those shows return alongside “Game of Thrones” and previous contender “The Americans,” as our racetrack odds predict, or will there be more turnover?

One new show that could disrupt the race is BBC America’s “Killing Eve,” which achieved the rare feat of growing its ratings throughout its eight-episode first season this past spring. But the show currently sits just out of contention in our predictions, ranked 8th with odds of 50/1. Chow believes “it really has to get this nomination off its own merit, off its own buzz, just through word of mouth, hoping that enough people check it out.” The five Television Critics Association nominations the show received during the Emmy voting period couldn’t have hurt.

SEE 2018 Emmy nominations slugfest: Who will win acting prizes for Limited Series/TV Movie? [WATCH]

Chow is predicting a different freshman show will break through: Netflix’s “Mindhunter.” The psychological thriller “consistently underperformed at the precursors,” but “it is a show that I think was widely seen, and also widely liked.” Produced and directed by David Fincher, who won an Emmy for directing the “House of Cards” pilot in 2013, “Mindhunter” is currently ranked in 9th place with 100/1 odds.

When it comes to picking the winner most derbyites are expecting a showdown between “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Game of Thrones,” but Spears contends that NBC’s family drama “This Is Us” has a chance of disrupting. “I think it could just come straight up the middle and win this,” she explains, especially if it gains acting nominations for Mandy Moore for Drama Actress and Justin Hartley for Drama Supporting Actor, plus writing and directing bids. The show was snubbed for writing and directing in 2017, and no show has won Best Drama Series without at least a nomination for writing or directing since “The Practice” in 1999.

SEE 2018 Emmy nominations slugfest: Gold Derby contributors break down reality and variety predictions [WATCH]

Although it’s ranked all the way in sixth place with 9/1 odds, I wonder if FX’s “The Americans” might get “a farewell hug,” especially after its “buzzed-about” series finale. Admittedly the show has “had a sketchy history with the Emmys,” taking four seasons to finally break into the Best Drama Series race only to drop out the very next year. Still, the show could follow the “Friday Night Lights” path and pick up farewell prizes for lead actors Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, as well as for showrunners Joseph Weisberg and Joel Fields for penning the denouement, “START.” “Lights” similarly picked up wins for Kyle Chandler for Best Drama Actor and Jason Katims for Best Drama Writing in 2011 for its finale.

PREDICT the Emmy nominees and winners now; change them until July 12

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on July 12. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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