After nearly two years off the air, the fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale began airing Wednesday, April 28. Will its late entry shake up the Emmy race this year?

Its third season garnered diminished critical acclaim; It failed to receive a “Best Drama” nomination at the Emmys, receiving no nominations in lead or supporting categories. This, after having previously won “Best Drama” during its first season, and eight lead and supporting nominations for its first two seasons (two wins, in Lead Actress and Supporting Actress).

If the first three episodes are any indication, it will come roaring back during its fourth season. A powerful opening trio of episodes felt like a return to form, with a tour-de-force performance from its leading lady in the third episode.

With plenty of twists and changes to the status quo, particularly for Yvonne Strahovksy’s Serena, the fourth season is shaping up to be more interesting than it has since the show’s second season. It could herald a return to the Best Drama lineup, where The Crown is the presumptive favorite. Could a revitalized The Handmaid’s Tale change the dynamic in that category?

Star Elisabeth Moss seems poised to return to the Lead Actress category after missing for its third season, and Emmy-darling Bradley Whitford is assured a nomination for whichever category he’s entered in, Guest Actor or Supporting Actor. Moss also directed the third episode of the season, which has garnered praise and portends a directing nomination in her future.

But it was 14-year old Mckenna Grace who stirred up social praise in the show’s opening week. The young star, known for 2018’s House on Haunting Hill, gave a gutwrenching performance that belied her years, setting up a Guest Actress nomination.

And don’t count out O.T. Fagbenle. Featured heavily in the second episode of the season, his strong turn could finally garner a long-overdue nomination for his consistently praiseworthy work. And with this week’s Janine-centric episode and a presumed prominent role going forward, Madeline Brewer may also turn some heads.

In a strange, pandemic affected year with less output from the usual contenders, the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards will likely feature an unusual nomination lineup. Coming in just a month before the end of eligibility, the fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale may have just upended the ballot.

 

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Jason Woods is a Blast staff writer

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