‘The Handmaid’s Tale’s’ Emmy risk pays off with 11 nominations for its 3 orphaned episodes

“Game of Thrones” dominated the Emmy nominations with a record-breaking 32 bids, but you might be surprised to know what was the second most nominated drama: “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The 2017 Best Drama Series champ scored 11 nominations for its three orphaned episodes from Season 2 and what’s more, it’s the only other drama with double-digit nominations. Praise be, indeed.

Per the TV academy’s rules, these three orphaned episodes could only be considered in categories that recognize individual achievement, which means they weren’t eligible in races that honor the body of work, like drama series and the series regular acting categories. These are the show’s 11 nominations:

1. Best Narrative Contemporary (One Hour or More) Production Design (“Holly”)

2. Best Single Camera Cinematography: Zoe White (“Holly”)

3. Best Single Camera Cinematography: Colin Watkinson (“The Word”)

4. Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes (“The Word”)

5. Best Drama Directing: Daina Reid (“Holly”)

6. Best Drama Single-Camera Picture Editing (“The Word”)

7. Best Music Composition (Original Dramatic Score): Adam Taylor (“The Word”)

8. Best Drama Guest Actor: Bradley Whitford (“Postpartum”)

9. Best Drama Guest Actress: Cherry Jones (“Holly”)

10. Best Comedy/Drama (One Hour) Sound Mixing (“Holly”)

11. Best Drama Writing: Bruce Miller and Kira Snyder (“Holly”)

SEE Be our guest: Bradley Whitford would make Emmy history with a victory for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

These 11 bids put it ahead of the seven non-“Thrones” Best Drama Series nominees: “Better Call Saul,” “Killing Eve,” “Ozark” and “This Is Us” are all tied at nine; “Pose,” six; “Succession,” five; and “Bodyguard,” two. And despite already being nominated 33 times before Tuesday’s announcement, the show managed to sneak into Best Drama Guest Actor and Best Music Composition for the very first time. Plus, while Watkinson won the Best Cinematography Emmy in 2017 and received a subsequent nomination last year, this is the first time the show is shortlisted twice in this category. This tells us is that “Handmaid’s” still massive support within the TV academy, which bodes well for its chances next year, when it can compete for the entirety of its third season.

This comes after the show only won three of its 20 nominations last year, for the first 10 episodes of its second season — it was entirely shut out at the main ceremony — which gave reason to doubt its return this year, especially since it only qualified for three single episodes, which aired more than a year ago. But even if those episodes weren’t necessarily fresh in mind, the show could have been helped by the fact that the third season premiered on June 5, just five days before voters received their nominating ballots.

As for winning any of these categories, both Jones and Whitford are very strong in the guest races. With “Handmaid’s” having ruled Best Drama Guest Actress in the last two years with back-to-back wins — Alexis Bledel (2017) and Samira Wiley (2018) — it seems likely for the show to extend its reign with the help of Jones, who’s also already made an appearance in the third season. A six-time nominee and two-time winner, Whitford is now a series regular in the third season as the mysterious Commander Joseph Lawrence and would be the first to win guest actor on both the comedy and drama sides. While he’s competing for Season 2’s 12th hour, his ample screen time and showy turn in the third season could help put him across the finish line this year.

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