“By default, since I am predicting ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to win Best Drama Series, I should be predicting it to win Best Drama Writing,” Zach Laws explains to me and fellow Gold Derby contributors Tom O’Brien, Tony Ruiz and Amanda Spears in our Emmy predictions slugfest (watch above). This Best Drama Writing race pits “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which won both Drama Series and Drama Writing last year, against “Game of Thrones,” which won Drama Series and Drama Writing in 2015 and 2016 before the show’s lengthy hiatus kept it out of competition in 2017.
Laws thinks “the smart bet is whatever you’re picking to win Best Drama Series, pick that to win Best Drama Writing because that’s probably what’s going to happen.” Ruiz adds that “the pilot of ‘Killing Eve’ is such a beautiful piece of writing, but I’m somewhat hesitant to put it higher than third only because it didn’t get in for Drama Series.” No show has won the writing award without a Drama Series nom since “House” prevailed for the episode “Three Stories” in 2005.
Although “Game of Thrones” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” have not faced off for Best Drama Writing at the Emmys before, I point out that “they were both at the Writers Guild Awards, where ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ won.” That indicates stronger support from the industry’s writers, many of whom are TV academy members who will be voting for Emmys. However, the WGA Awards were honoring work from the calendar year 2017, so “The Handmaid’s Tale” competed there for its first season and not its second season from this past spring, which was more divisive.
“‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ struggled throughout their episodes to [get to] where they wanted to be,” Spears contends. But this category nominates individual episodes — in the case of “Handmaid’s,” the season premiere episode “June” (by series creator Bruce Miller) — and not complete seasons. O’Brien notes, “It didn’t get wobbly until episode four. Episode one is pretty solidly written. It’s almost as if they put all their effort into episode one.”
“Handmaid’s” is the front-runner to win, according to Gold Derby’s aggregate predictions, but our odds actually peg “The Americans” — up for its series finale “START” (by creators Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg) — and not “Game of Thrones” (for “The Dragon and the Wolf” by creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss) as the greatest threat to upset. “[‘The Americans’ has now] been nominated for the last four seasons, and it was also a very buzzed-about finale,” explains Laws, who switched his prediction to “The Americans” after our chat.
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