The King is dead — or, rather, taking a year off. HBO programming president Casey Bloys officially confirmed on Saturday that Seasons 7 and 8 of “Game of Thrones” will be the show’s last, and that next year’s seven episodes won’t premiere in time to compete in the 2017 Emmys.
It’s news that has every other network breathing a sigh of relief, given the way the show has dominated the race in years past. However, as we previously explored, HBO does have some other options in the drama realm when it comes to the Emmys race next year.
The final eight-episode season of “The Leftovers” will be premiering in spring 2017, HBO confirmed. In fact, it’s moving into “Game of Thrones'” newly vacated slot — a comparison invoked by Bloys himself.
“Westworld” could also be a contender, and not just for its incredibly awards-friendly cast (added up: eight Oscar nominations and one win, and nine Emmy nominations and three wins between them). Critics have now been able to see two episodes of the highly anticipated adaptation by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and the show’s striking level of production design and deep themes about the nature of humanity and reality could engage genre fans and non-genre fans alike, much the way “Thrones” does. The first season premieres October 2, 2016.
In addition, in 2017 (depending on timing) viewers will see “The Deuce,” which stars James Franco as real-life twin brothers rising in the New York City porn scene. “The Deuce” executive producer David Simon’s shows have never gotten the level of awards attention they deserve, but maybe this one could penetrate (intended).
Depending on timing, HBO might also still dominate the limited series category. Steven Zaillian and Richard Price’s “The Night Of” has been very well-received this summer, and 2017’s “Big Little Lies” boasts an ensemble awards-friendly cast, including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Adam Scott and Zoe Kravitz. Focused on three mothers “whose seeemingly perfect lives unravel to the point of murder” (per the HBO release), writer David E. Kelley and director Jean-Marc Vallee could be behind another major player.
There’s also miniseries “The Young Pope,” created by Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino, starring Jude Law (as a titular fictional Pope) and Diane Keaton (as a nun). Without knowing the exact time of release, it’s unclear whether “The Young Pope” will be eligible for the 2017 Emmys, but the ingredients are certainly there for something interesting.
“It’s always better to win more Emmys. That said, that’s not our main goal,” Bloys told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour. It’s a good time for him to start saying that, as all of the above contenders have some level of uncertainty to them. And much like in Westeros, anything can happen in the Game of Awards.