Will ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ steal ‘The Crown’s’ Emmy thunder … again?

After a dominant spring awards season, “The Crown” looks poised to dominate the Emmys too, with a leading two dozen bids. It is tipped to win Best Drama Series for the first time after four seasons. But watch out for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which reaped 21 nominations. TV academy voters could well withhold the award from “The Crown” the same way they did in 2017, like Lucy taunting Charlie Brown with the football.

In the winter of 2016-2017, the first season of “The Crown” got off to a strong start, standing out from the pack with its expensive production values and prestigious subject matter, exploring the life of Queen Elizabeth II at the start of her reign. It won Screen Actors Guild Awards for stars Claire Foy and John Lithgow and earned a nomination for its ensemble cast. The American Film Institute named it one of the best TV programs of the year. And it won the Golden Globe for Best Drama Series. But then a few months later “The Handmaid’s Tale” premiered on Hulu and drank its milkshake at the Emmys, winning Best Drama Series and Best Drama Actress (Elisabeth Moss).

This Emmy season could be shaping up in a similar way, except “The Crown” did even better with early awards groups. It was lauded by the AFI again. It won twice at the SAG Awards again (including a victory for its ensemble cast). It won Best Drama at the Golden Globes again. And on top of that it won Best Drama at the Critics Choice, Producers Guild, and Writers Guild Awards — all for the first time.

But here comes “The Handmaid’s Tale” again, premiering in the spring right before Emmy voting and generating buzz with its own fourth season that advanced its plot in dramatic new ways. Might it ambush the Emmys like it did four years ago? The good news for “The Crown” is that it was so much more dominant on the awards campaign trail in season four than it was in season one, possibly giving it too much momentum for any other show to catch it.

PREDICT the 2021 Emmy winners through September 19

According to the combined predictions of our users, “The Crown” is the front-runner with 4/1 odds. “The Handmaid’s Tale” currently ranks third with 13/2 odds, perhaps due to last year’s relative under-performance, but watch for it to rise in our odds after a major uptick in nominations. So there’s still a strong possibility that the handmaid steals the crown.

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