Wave goodbye to ineligible ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ Elisabeth Moss for the 2019 Emmy Awards

Yet another drama series is exiting the 2019 Emmy Awards race: “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The 2017 Best Drama Series Emmy champ will return on Wednesday, June 5, Hulu announced Monday at the Television Critics Association press tour.

Per television academy rules, a show must have six new episodes air by May 31 for eligibility. “The Handmaid’s Tale” actually aired three episodes last summer from Season 2 that could technically be part of this cycle, but producers have decided that their next campaign should only focus on the upcoming third season as to not confuse voters.

Comprised of 13 episodes for the second straight season, “Handmaid’s” will drop three episodes on June 5, with subsequent episodes to be released weekly on Wednesdays.

“Maintaining the quality of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ which is impeccable, takes time,” Craig Erwich, Hulu’s SVP of originals, said Monday. “And we wanted to give the show enough time to maintain the incredibly high standards of storytelling that it set.”

Erwich emphasized that the delay has nothing to do with avoiding the final season of reigning Best Drama Series Emmy champ “Game of Thrones,” which returns April 14. “You’re going to watch the final season of ‘Game of Thrones,'” he said. “We wanted to give the show as much time as possible to maintain the quality that it has.”

SEE 2019 Writers Guild of America TV Awards nominations: ‘Barry’ leads with 3 bids, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Succession’ at 2 each

Besides “Game of Thrones” and two-time nominee “This Is Us,” the drama field is clearing out of competitors from last year: “The Americans” aired its final season in spring of 2018; “The Crown,” “Stranger Things” and “Westworld” will not have new episodes in time for the 2019 cutoff date.

Even former Best Limited Series winner “Big Little Lies,” which will likely have to compete as a drama for its second season, is bypassing this Emmy cycle with a June premiere.

New programs that might join the race for Best Drama Series include “Bodyguard” (Richard Madden), “The First” (Sean Penn), “Haunting of Hill House” (Carla Gugino), “Homecoming” (Julia Roberts), “Jack Ryan” (John Krasinski), “Narcos: Mexico” (Diego Luna), “Pose” (Billy Porter), “Sorry for Your Loss” (Elizabeth Olsen), “Succession” (Brian Cox) and “Yellowstone” (Kevin Costner).

Possible returning shows that weren’t nominated for the top race last year: “American Gods” (Ian McShane), “Better Call Saul” (Bob Odenkirk), “Counterpart” (J.K. Simmons), “The Good Doctor” (Freddie Highmore), “The Good Fight” (Christine Baranski), “House of Cards” (Robin Wright), “Killing Eve” (Sandra Oh), “Outlander” (Caitriona Balfe), “Ozark” (Jason Bateman) and “Ray Donovan” (Liev Schreiber).

Speaking of Oh, she has an odd situation going for her with the absence of “Handmaid’s” star Elisabeth Moss. Oh, the recent Golden Globe and SAG Awards winner, will be the only eligible person from the 2018 Best Drama Actress race eligible to return in 2019. Reigning Emmy winner Claire Foy (“The Crown”), Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”), Keri Russell (“The Americans”), Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”) and now Moss are all gone from the race.

The loss of “Handmaid’s” clears a path for some other shows to pick up many nominations slots as the Hulu program had 18 bids last time. In addition to the series and actress races, the show had noms for supporting actress (Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, Yvonne Strahovski), supporting actor (Joseph Fiennes), guest actress (Kelly Jenrette, Cherry Jones, winner Samira Wiley), production design (winner), editing (winner), directing, writing, casting, costumes, sound mixing, cinematography and visual effects.

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