When the 70th Primetime Emmy Award nominations are announced Thursday morning, you might be surprised — and possibly even angered — to find that a number of last year's nominees and winners, specifically Veep, Better Call Saul, Master of None and House of Cards, won't be on the ballot. However, there is a very simple explanation for their absence: they're all ineligible.
The Emmys' eligibility period runs from June 1 to May 31 every year. (However, Emmy rules state that if a series airs the bulk of its season during the eligibility period, episodes that air in June before the first round of Emmy voting is closed are still considered eligible in the cycle.)
Production on Veep, which traditionally airs in spring and has won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series the last three years, was delayed while star Julia Louis-Dreyfus underwent treatment for breast cancer. She announced her diagnosis last fall, less than two weeks after taking home her record-tying eighth Emmy for acting. Elsewhere, the Netflix drama House of Cards was forced to halt production in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Spacey. He was subsequently fired, while the show's sixth and final season was retooled to focus on Robin Wright's Claire Underwood. It will now debut later this year.
The reasons for Better Call Saul and Master of None being ineligible are thankfully less serious. Better Call Saul, which has somehow never won an Emmy despite the fact Breaking Bad was an Emmys favorite, is debuting its fourth season in August instead of the typical April. Meanwhile, Master of None, which has taken home two Emmys for writing, simply hasn't yet been renewed for a third season by Netflix due to the creative team needing a break, which means it was never going to be in the running anyway.
It might seem rather insignificant that these four shows aren't eligible, but their absencefrom this year's Emmys race is important because of what it means for other shows, namely that they might have a chance to break in as there are now two openings in the races for both Outstanding Drama and Outstanding Comedy.
It's likely the five remaining best drama nominees from 2017 — reigning winner The Handmaid's Tale, The Crown, Stranger Things, This Is Us and Westworld — will repeat this year, and we'd bet all the money in Westeros that Game of Thrones, which took home the award in 2015 and 2016, will return to the drama race despite the fact the seventh season had some issues and aired nearly a year ago (because voting happens in June, there's a major benefit to airing in the months leading up to it). That leaves one spot for a new series to slip into the race. It wouldn't be surprising if FX's The Americans returned to the race for its killer final season, but it also wouldn't be shocking if the critically beloved freshman series Killing Eve made an appearance either.
On the comedy side, the race is slightly more open. Of last year's nominees, it's likely that Atlanta, black-ish and Silicon Valley will all repeat. However, there's less steam behind the new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt despite the fact it debuted right at the end of the eligibility period, and it's very possible that this is the year Modern Family will finally drop out of the running. That leaves room for Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which took home the Golden Globe earlier this year, to easily enter the running. After that, it's kind of up in the air. The new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm and the revival of Will & Grace could easily find themselves in the race, but we also shouldn't count out Netflix's GLOW, which would be nominated for its first season, not the just-debuted second.
The four shows not being eligible will also affect the acting races. Louis-Dreyfus has taken home the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for six years straight; her absence means we will see a new best actress winner crowned for the first time since 2011. The other acting races will obviously also be influenced — Bob Odenkirk has been nominated three years in a row for his performance on Better Call Saul, for instance — but while all of this is rather unfortunate for those of who love these particular shows and their associated actors, their absence from this year's Emmys is also a good thing, because the Emmys could use a little new blood. So be sure to tune in Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. PT to see who'll be nominated in their place.
The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards airs Monday, Sept. 17 on NBC.