‘Outlander’ at the Emmys: Top 3 reasons ‘Freedom & Whiskey’ will win Best Period Costumes

Season three of “Outlander” may have been torture for its fans since it separated soulmates Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) for the first six episodes. However, their separation has improved the show’s Emmy prospects. It is the front-runner to win Best Period Costumes for designer Terry Dresbach, who previously won an Emmy in 2004 for costuming the HBO series “Carnivale.”

“Outlander” has scored three Emmy nominations to date. For its inaugural season it contended for Best Music Composition (for the episode “Sassenach”) in 2015. And for its second season it received a pair of bids in 2016: Best Period/Fantasy Costumes (for the episode “Not in Scotland Anymore”) and Best Period Production Design.

While it didn’t win any of those the show’s prospects, I can think of three good reasons why “Outlander” will win Best Period Costumes.

1. The costume categories have changed
When “Outlander” was previously nominated for its costumes its rivals included three other period programs: “The People v. O.J. Simpson” (for the episode “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia”), “Downton Abbey” (for “Episode 8”) and “Roots.” But they all lost to the fantasy series “Game of Thrones” (for the episode “The Winds of Winter”).

However, the categories have been tweaked for the 2018 Emmys. Period and fantasy programs now compete in separate races. “GOT” is eligible for Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes along with “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Westworld,” “Once Upon a Time” and other out-of-this-world shows with high production values. This eliminates some of the toughest competition for “Outlander,” which vies in the category for period shows. It still has to worry about lavish shows like “The Alienist,” “The Crown” and “Howards End,” but “Outlander” has something those other period shows don’t have …

2. Two periods for the price of one

“Outlander” was shrewd to submit the fifth episode, “Freedom & Whiskey,” as it takes place in both the 1960s and the 18th Century. Voters will get to see two completely different time periods in one episode, setting it apart from the competition as the rest of the nominees may only take place in one time period. Emmy voters may prefer a show that masters two eras much the way the actors branch celebrates actors like Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) and Toni Collette (“United States of Tara”) who excel at multiple roles.

3. The costumes are part of the plot

As Rob Licuria and I discussed in our recap of “Freedom & Whiskey,” the costumes are integral to the story. When Claire decides to reunite with Jamie she knows she cannot go back to the 18th century in modern ’60s attire. She sets out to make an ensemble that won’t seem out of place where she’s going — corset and all. This could spur the support of academy costumers since there probably won’t be many contenders where the wardrobe is such a significant part of the narrative. That alone could tip the race in favor of “Outlander,” sparking celebrations across the globe from its fans.

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