Over the weekend, freshly-anointed HBO President of Programming Casey Bloys confirmed rumors that “Game of Thrones” would be delayed until the summer of 2017. While surely a disappointment for the half-dozen fans (-ish) who actually want to watch the otherwise insignificant drama, it’s a bigger concern for HBO in terms of their true passion: gold digging – the good kind!
“Game of Thrones” won’t be a factor in the Emmys race next year because Season 7 will debut after the submission deadline, and that means the network that covets trophies like Tyrion Lannister covets Dornish wines will need other shows on its roster to make up the difference in the drama categories.
And you won’t believe what Bloys named as the network’s primary option.
OK, I can’t just say it. If I just blurted it out, context-free, you may not believe me. So let’s break down his statement in full:
“I will point out, even if you took ‘Game of Thrones” Emmys away, we would still have more than anybody else,” Bloys said first — which is true. HBO earned 94 nominations total, so if you subtract “Game of Thrones'” 23 nods, they’re still 15 ahead of the second most-nominated network (FX with 56). But let’s move on.
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“For next year, I hope that people remember ‘The Night Of.'”
Sure. Of course. The miniseries is earning rave reviews, high ratings and considerable buzz. It seems like surefire contender for Outstanding Limited Series, but what about Drama Series? What series on your roster will pick up the slack on those 23 nominations? “Westworld”? “The Deuce”?
“I’m hoping that the final season of ‘The Leftovers’ […] gets some Emmy love.”
What?! Are you kidding me, Bloys? “The Leftovers”? That’s HBO’s best bet for Emmys love in 2017? You can’t tease me like this, man. I’ve been having fever dreams about getting lost in hotels and tipping little girls into wells for the three nights since you made this incredible claim. Next thing you know I’ll be waking up on the floor with my work shirts strewn throughout the forest an hour north of Mapleton.
Bloys did keep going, mentioning comedies like “Veep” and “Silicon Valley” as well as TV movies and another limited series, “Big Little Lies” (with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon) as other potential Emmy contenders, but he didn’t name a single other drama series as a viable option for Emmys.
Meanwhile, common sense demands we note that “The Leftovers” hasn’t just underperformed with the TV Academy, it’s been blanked completely for two seasons so far (much to our frustrations). It’s a good thing the stock market doesn’t put any weight on Emmy nominations, otherwise Time Warner shares would’ve dropped like a brick Monday morning.
Why would Bloys expect a change in 2017?
Well, for one, he doesn’t. We’ve been a tad facetious thus far, but let’s hit pause on that tone for a second. Bloys may think he can gain some love for the final season of “The Leftovers” — much like oft-ignored critical favorites like “Friday Night Lights” and “The Americans” curried favor in later years — but he certainly doesn’t expect a comparatively low-rated series challenging viewers to accept death as an inevitability to dominate anything reliant on a popular vote.
Still, he and the network seem to be giving “The Leftovers” its best opportunity yet.
Though no exact release date was confirmed, Bloys later said “The Leftovers” was pushed to 2017 because of two reasons. First, “part of it was production, and part of it was scheduling,” but then he gave a far more tantalizing tease: “We had a slot, obviously, in the spring, where ‘Game of Thrones’ was moving out of.”
That indicates an April 2017 release for “The Leftovers” Season 3, a time period yet to be occupied by Damon Lindelof’s drama. Season 1 debuted in late June 2014, and Season 2 hit October 4, 2015. Summer series are a notoriously hard sell for Emmys voters because of how long it is between first airing and voting (almost a full year), but the fall release for Season 2 certainly helped “The Leftovers” land on a number of annual Top 10 lists.
April premieres, meanwhile, are perfect for awards contenders. Everything from “Mad Men” to “Breaking Bad” and yes, “Game of Thrones” have used the timing to boost awareness just as voters were considering what to select for the Emmys. Ballots go out in mid-June, meaning seasons starting in April are wrapping up when every show is clamoring to be seen. And what better way to grab attention than a stirring, news-generating season finale — or a series finale?
Now, expecting cynics to be won over by timing or new viewers to flock to a show entering its final eight episodes is still a tall order, and perhaps HBO was trying to placate the hundreds of millions of “Leftovers” fans who would be damn-near suicidal over its delayed release. But the premium cable network has been nothing but supportive of its heralded drama series, giving it Emmys billboards, an FYC screening and more for both seasons so far. Believing it will get one more hard push doesn’t seem like stretch, especially when they’re already talking it up in July 2016.
So, dear readers, don’t lament the loss of “The Leftovers” in 2016. There’s always a silver lining — or, in this case, a gold one.