Watch the 2017 Emmy nominations with us

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jamie Lannister in "Game of Thrones."

Winter will not be coming to the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards. "Game of Thrones" (who amassed a staggering 23 nominations last year) is not eligible to be nominated for any Emmys this year.

The seventh season of "Game of Thrones" will not premiere until July 16, which means HBO’s fantasy series has missed the eligibility period to be considered for this year’s awards. (To qualify for the 2017 Emmys, a program had to air episodes between June 1, 2016 and May 31, 2017.)

And no, the four season 6 episodes that aired during the aforementioned dates don’t count. The television academy has a "hanging episodes" rule. The Season 6 episodes were counted as part of last year’s campaign, so no matter how amazing "Battle of the Bastards" was it cannot qualify a second time.

This is the first time since 2011 that "Game of Thrones" is not among the year’s Emmy contenders.

"Game of Thrones" — which was named the best drama series for the second consecutive year at the 2016 awards — has won 38 Emmys since its debut and holds the record for most awards of any drama or comedy series.

Kevin Spacey stars in "House of Cards." (Netflix)

Oprah Winfrey watched the first episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” And part of the second. But she stopped there, unable to continue watching the grim events depicted in Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s cautionary novel depicting a future in which women are subjugated, controlled and, in some cases, ceremonially raped.

"It’s just so dark,” Winfrey says. “It’s almost too much to witness. It shakes you to the core. I’ll get there. … It’s an amazing show. But it’s going to take some time.”

We know that Emmy voters have too much to watch. But one of the key things Thursday’s nominations announcement will reveal is which programs Television Academy members chose to check out and which they willfully ignored. If you can’t watch everything — and you can’t, believe me, I’ve tried — then what falls to the wayside? Awful, plodding shows, sure. (If you made it past Episode 3 of Netflix’s “Gypsy,” to cite a recent example, you deserve a cookie.) But also challenging fare like “The Handmaid’s Tale” — programs that make you uncomfortable, programs that make you think.

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