During the 2018 Super Bowl a new ad for season two of HBO’s “Westworld” revealed that the sci-fi series would return on April 22 (watch above). That’s prime Emmy real estate as it will be airing new episodes into June when the television academy will be voting for nominations. That’s also the time slot that “Game of Thrones” used to call home before its seventh season was delayed until the summer in 2017. That late “Thrones” premiere meant that the show was ineligible in last year’s Emmy race. Now “Thrones” and “Westworld” will go head-to-head for the first time. Since “Westworld” will be much fresher in mind at the time of voting, could robots beat dragons this year?
The spring air date always worked out pretty well for “Game of Thrones.” It has won 38 Emmys, more than any other primetime scripted series in history. That includes two consecutive victories for Best Drama Series (2015-2016) before it sat out last year’s Emmy contest. But will absence make voters’ hearts grow fonder? Last summer’s “Thrones” season has lost Best Drama to “The Handmaid’s Tale” at the Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Awards, Best TV Drama Directing to “Handmaid’s” at the Directors Guild Awards and its ensemble cast lost to “This is Us” at the SAG Awards.
By the time Emmy voters start marking their ballots it will have been a year since the “Thrones” season aired. And “Thrones” and “Westworld” are both fantasy series with high production values, so they will be competing in many of the same categories. It’s possible they’ll both run roughshod over most other shows in contention, but they also risk siphoning votes from each other in many races. And with the reigning Emmy champ “Handmaid’s” continuing its momentum throughout the winter awards season, that could give the Hulu dystopia the opening it needs to repeat.