Emmys 2017: Politics and a Possible Network Comeback Take Center Stage

Stephen Colbert

After a long and lively Emmy campaign season, TV industry insiders head for the Microsoft Theater today eagerly anticipating the epic finale of the most suspenseful competition in a decade.

Not since “Mad Men” began its four-peat winning streak in 2008 has there been such a wide open field for the night’s most prestigious trophy: best drama series.

What is predictable: host Stephen Colbert is sure to offer up plenty of political humor in his monologue, and look for winners to also share some fiery political sentiments in their speeches.

During the past 72 hours of pre-Emmy revelry, a strong sentiment has emerged in favor of NBC’s “This Is Us.” There is a widespread feeling — expressed by many with no connection to the show or the Peacock — that it would be “good for the business” if a broadcast network series were to win for the first time since Fox’s “24” in 2006.

A “This Is Us” victory would signal to the creative community that the old-guard networks can still be kudos contenders. And it would reward creator Dan Fogelman and studio 20th Century Fox TV for delivering what seemed to be the impossible in a multiplatform world: a broad-based, must-see hit. The hope is that a “This Is Us” win would convince nervous networks to invest in original ideas that break the storytelling mold.

Emmys 2017: Who Will Win, Who Should Win?

But the narrative of the night could just as easily turn to becoming a milestone for the digital crowd. A win for Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” would be a David-versus-Goliath triumph for the smallest of the Big Three streamers. It would also be a major statement for MGM Television, the studio behind the…

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