Stranger things have happened at the Emmy Awards.
Netflix’s Stranger Things and HBO’s Westworld were both shut out at this year’s Emmy Awards, including in the category for Best Drama. Stranger Things and Westworld were beat out by The Handmaid’s Tale for the win, and competed alongside The Crown, Better Call Saul, This is Us and House of Cards.
Stranger Things’ loss is the most surprising, considering how well the show performed during last week’s Creative Emmy Awards. Stranger Things won five Creative Emmys, which tied the series with Westworld. Stranger Things’ success was seen by many experts as a possible precursor to tonight’s Primetime Emmy Awards, but those predictions turned out to be quite wrong.
Stranger Things’ loss is a big deal. In a year where Game of Thrones wasn’t in the equation due to the show’s ineligibility to be nominated, Stranger Things and Westworld led the charge for genre representation. While The Handmaid’s Tale is sci-fi programming in its own right, Westworld and Stranger Things fall into the campier end of the category, along with Game of Thrones.
Although Stranger Things and Westworld didn’t take home any awards tonight, the two shows weren’t completely ignored. Host Stephen Colbert took part in a sketch with Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright, in which Colbert played a host that needed to be fixed, and Wright played the programmer who ensured he could carry on with the show. Much like the Emmys has done in the past with Game of Thrones, Westworld’s own lengthy mid-show sketch is proof that HBO’s newest sci-fi series is recognizable enough to land a parody on broadcast television for an audience of general television viewers.
Stranger Things losing the award for Best Drama wasn’t the only loss for Netflix’s top show. Actors David Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown lost in each of their categories (Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively). Combined with Westworld going home empty handed, traditional genre television didn’t have the award-winning year it was gunning for. Westworld and Stranger Things, although applauded in their own right through simple acknowledgment, remain nowhere near Game of Thrones and its years of winning at the Emmys.
Tonight, Game of Thrones feels like the winner that Stranger Things or Westworld should have been. It was still the genre program that was discussed the most in jokes and was still the show that set the bar for much-watch, appointment television. The beginning of the award show kicked off with a joke about HBO’s Confederacy, a controversial show from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The joke concluded with Blackish’s Anthony Anderson admitting he couldn’t cancel his HBO subscription out of spite until Game of Thrones ended.
With both Stranger Things and Westworld losing out at this year’s Emmy’s, the award show proved that television has a ways to go before finding a new genre series that truly becomes a mainstream juggernaut, even if it feels like we we’re getting closer than ever.