TV’s biggest night is almost here. On Sunday, the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards will honor the best dramas, comedies, limited and variety series of the last year in television.
With heavy hitters like Veep, Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory singing their swan songs this year, there’s a lot to honor during the ceremony. The Television Academy and Fox, this year’s network for the awards show, have done away with a ceremony host (much like the Oscars did, though they came to the decision with much less drama), which they say will allow the broadcast to better focus on the nominees and highlight those shows’ final seasons.
HBO heads into the ceremony with the biggest advantage: a record-breaking 137 nominations for shows like Game of Thrones, Veep, Chernobyl and Barry. Netflix is close behind, having racked up 117 nominations for its series, including Ozark, Dead to Me, House of Cards and Russian Doll.
But the biggest of story of all is the final season of Game of Thrones as it leads the 2019 Emmys with 32 nominations, including Best Drama Series. With its big wins at the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend, the series is expected to take home its share of hardware on Sunday.
It’s not entirely about Game of Thrones at the Emmys, though. After dominating in the comedy categories at the 2018 Emmys, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is close behind with 20 nominations, while Barry and the limited series Fosse/Verdon are tied with 17 nods each.
Here’s everything to know about the 2019 Emmys.
When are the 2019 Emmys?
The 71st Primetime Emmys ceremony will take place on Sunday, Sept. 22, airing from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. E.T. The show will be broadcast live on Fox from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Who’s nominated for Emmys this year?
Game of Thrones’ final season has broken the record for the most nominations for one series in a single season, according to The Hollywood Reporter, with 32 nominations including Best Drama Series. It’s the fourth time Game of Thrones has led the pack in an Emmys broadcast. The show’s other chances at Emmys glory include Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington, for Lead Actress and Actor in a Drama Series, respectively.
Like Game of Thrones, Amazon Prime’s Fleabag is another contender in many categories. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is nominated in Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in the show, also earning a nod for writing one episode. Harry Bradbeer earned a directing nomination for the same episode, while Olivia Colman and Sian Clifford are both nominated for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and Fiona Shaw and Kristin Scott Thomas both received nominations for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.
Ted Danson of The Good Place, which is nominated for Best Comedy, is up forfor Lead Actor in a Comedy Series along with Bill Hader of Barry, Eugene Levy of Schitt’s Creek, Anthony Anderson of Black-ish, Don Cheadle of Black Monday and Michael Douglas of The Kominsky Method. Danson won the award in 1990 and 1993 for his part on Cheers.
Who’s likely to win?
While it’s possible that Clarke could win the Leading Actress in a Drama Series award, she is up against Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, co-stars of Killing Eve, who are also big contenders for the award. Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder), Laura Linney (Ozark), Mandy Moore (This Is Us) and Robin Wright (House of Cards) fill out the competition.
Clarke’s co-star, Kit Harington, is up against Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia of This Is Us, Pose‘s Billy Porter, Ozark’s Jason Bateman and Bob Odenkirk of Better Call Saul. Prognosticators favor Porter, Bateman and Odenkirk over Harington, but Jon Snow does stand a chance, if slim.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus earned the Leading Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy award for six consecutive years of Veep and she’s poised to win a seventh, which would make her the actress with the most overall acting wins (beating Cloris Leachman), The Hollywood Reporter reports. She faces stiff competition from Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel‘s Rachel Brosnahan.
For Best Comedy Actor, Bill Hader is favored to win for his titular role in Barry, but The Good Place‘s Ted Danson is another strong contender.
Game of Thrones looks likely to win the Drama Series award, which it won in 2018, 2016 and 2015, while Veep‘s final season is set to clinch the Comedy Series honor, which it previously won in 2017, 2016 and 2015.
Who votes on the Emmys?
Similar to the Oscars, which are decided by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, members of the Television Academy vote on the Emmys. “The Academy has over 25,000 members, divided into 30 peer groups of specialized fields,” the Television Academy’s website says. Within each specialized field or group, members vote on the awards pertaining to their own peers.
Eligible work for Emmy consideration this year had to air between June 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019. The nominations round of voting took place from June 10 to June 24 and final nominations were announced on July 16 by actors Ken Jeong and D’Arcy Carden.
Voters had until Aug. 29 to make their picks for the 2019 awards.
This year’s Emmys ceremony has no host, following in the footsteps of a hostless (and quite successful) 2019 Oscars ceremony. While the Academy’s choice to do away with its traditional emcee role came after a highly public controversy, the Television Academy’s decision was intentional from the get-go. “The conclusion was reached that this year, because we were highlighting so many shows going away, that it would be useful to save the time” to highlight and honor those shows, Fox CEO Charlie Collier said during the Television Critics Association press tour. “You have to look at the trade off. If you have a host and an opening number, that’s 15-20 minutes that you don’t have to salute the shows.”
It’s the first time the Emmys will go sans host since the 2003 broadcast, which also aired on Fox, Variety reported. Last year’s ceremony, broadcast on NBC, featured Michael Che and Colin Jost of that network’s Saturday Night Live.
Going hostless may be in vogue now, after all. The 2019 Oscars and last year’s MTV Video Music Awards both had no host, though the VMAs broadcasts have often gone without an emcee in years past. Alicia Keys hosted last year’s Grammys ceremony, but the Recording Academy has not yet announced a host for its next broadcast on Jan. 26, 2020. The Academy has yet to announce whether the next Oscars ceremony, on Feb. 9, 2020, will have a host.
Without a host, the Academy is expected to create a star-studded, entertaining group of presenters. The first group of presenters was announced on Sept. 11 and included late night talk show hosts Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers, all Emmy nominees at this year’s ceremony. Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Michael Douglas and Billy Porter — all nominees — will also present, in addition to Empire‘s Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, Peter Krause (9-1-1), Naomi Watts (The Loudest Voice) and Euphoria star Zendaya.
The following nominees are also slated to present awards on Sunday: Anthony Anderson (black-ish), Bill Hader (Barry), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Amy Poehler (Russian Doll and Duncanville), RuPaul (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Ben Stiller (Escape at Dannemora), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag & Killing Eve).
Game of Thrones cast members to present include nominees Alfie Allen, Gwendoline Christie, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Carice van Houten, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Maisie Williams.
Kim Kardashian West, Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner will also present, in addition to Gwyneth Paltrow (The Politician), Maya Rudolph and Lilly Singh.
Who won at the Creative Arts Emmys?
The Creative Arts Emmy Awards, held on Sunday, Sept. 15 — one week before the primetime awards broadcast — “honor outstanding artistic and technical achievement in a variety of television program genres, guest performances in weekly series, as well as exceptional work in the animation, reality and documentary categories,” the Television Academy explains.
Game of Thrones conquered this year’s Creative Arts Emmys, coming away with 10 awards. HBO “led all platforms,” the Academy said in a press release, as the network’s own Chernobyl left with seven awards.
Recipients of the guest acting awards came from two series. For comedy, Jane Lynch and Luke Kirby won the outstanding guest actress and actor awards for their roles on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Cherry Jones and Bradley Whitford won the outstanding guest actress and actor awards for the drama category, both for their roles on The Handmaid’s Tale.
What is the story with Game of Thrones at this year’s Emmys?
It’s no secret that Game of Thrones has dominated this year’s Emmys conversation. With Clarke’s and Harington’s previously mentioned nominations, as well as six actors and actresses in the supporting acting categories for drama, the series’ final season is looking for a strong finish.
Lena Heady, Maisie Williams and Gwendoline Christie are nominated against each other for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, while Alfie Allen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage are also competing for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
The show is also nominated for Best Drama Series, and co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss earned writing nods for “The Iron Throne” episode.
How many Emmys has Game of Thrones won in the past?
The series has won 57 Emmys to date, including several this year (see below). With this year’s nominations for its eighth season, the show has racked up a total of 160 nominations.
How many Creative Arts Emmys did it win this year?
The show’s final season won 10 awards at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sunday, Sept. 15, just edging out Chernobyl, which had seven wins.
At the ceremony, Game of Thrones won in the Outstanding Casting, Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes, Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) and Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series or Movie categories.
The episode “The Long Night” earned its own share of accolades. Ramin Djawadi’s score for the episode won the music composition award, and the episode also won for its picture editing, sound editing and sound mixing. Another episode, “The Bells,” earned the special visual effects award.
For her role as Melisandre, Carice van Houten was nominated for the Guest Actress in a Drama award, but ultimately lost to Cherry Jones of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Should Game of Thrones win big despite its divisive final season?
No Game of Thrones season was ever as divisive as its eighth and final one, which ended with (spoiler alert) Jon Snow killing his love, Daenerys Targaryen, who had gone mad and killed civilians. “Daenerys has never suggested she had a desire to burn innocents as she did in this episode,” wrote TIME’s Eliana Dockterman. Then, in another unexpected twist, “Bran the Broken” became king.
“It all felt a little empty,” wrote TIME’s film critic Judy Berman. “By the finale, thorny ideological conflicts had been either dropped or reduced to morally straightforward questions like who’s brave and who’s a coward, who kills indiscriminately and who respect human life.”
The finale was so upsetting to some that fans began petitions to fight for a remake of the season with “competent writers.”
Still, despite the season’s faults, the show has been “a series that remains both hugely popular and widely respected at a time when ratings and prestige sometimes seem mutually exclusive,” Berman wrote. The series did win Best Drama last year, but there are many who would argue that a repeat is warranted, as a way for the Television Academy to honor not just the final episodes but an entire series that dominated the conversation of TV for nearly a decade.
How can I watch the ceremony?
Cable TV viewers can tune in live on Sunday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m. E.T. on Fox. For viewers with a cable account but no TV set — or to watch at a friend’s who doesn’t have a cable provider — you can live-stream the show by logging in with your cable credentials on Fox.com.