Jessica Biel in 'The Sinner'. Picture: Supplied

The penultimate series of Game of Thrones topped the list of Thursday’s Emmy nominees, with 22 nominations, including Best Drama Series.

This is hardly a surprise: all six previous seasons were nominated for Emmys, 110 in all, with Game of Thrones winning 38 times - the record for any drama series.

But before you write this year’s awards off to been-there-done-that, here are four firsts to root for from this year’s nominations:

Issa Rae is up for Best Actress In A Comedy for ‘Insecure’

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Despite a rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Insecure’s first season was snubbed at last year’s Emmy awards, where Issa memorably announced on the red carpet that, “I’m rooting for everybody black.” 

This year, Rae is up for her first ever Emmy, against Pamela Adlon in Better Things, Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Tracee Ellis Ross in Black-ish, Allison Janney in Mom, and Lily Tomlin in Grace and Frankie

Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, who’s won the category for the previous six years, wasn’t eligible this time, as the final season of the show was delayed while she underwent treatment for cancer. Issa Rae plays Issa Dee in Insecure, a comedy about being the opposite of the stereotype of the strong, confident black woman. 

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is up for Best Supporting Actor In A Drama for ‘Game of Thrones’

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones, earned his first ever Emmy nomination, in the Supporting Actor In A Drama category. He’ll be competing against Peter Dinklage, who plays his younger brother Tyrion in the show. Dinklage has been nominated for all seven seasons, winning twice, for season one (2011) and season five (2011). So this could be the year that Dinklage scores a hat-trick  or Coster-Waldau takes the stage for the first time. 

They’re up against Joseph Fiennes in The Handmaid’s Tale, David Harbour in Stranger Things, Mandy Patinkin in Homeland and Matt Smith in The Crown. Last year’s winner, John Lithgow, wasn’t in competition as he didn’t appear in season two of The Crown. Incidentally, Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) is also nominated, for Supporting Actress In A Drama, making this the first year that all three Lannister siblings are in line for Emmys. 

Jessica Biel is up for Best Actress In A Limited Series or Movie for ‘The Sinner’

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Jessica Biel earned her first ever Emmy nomination for her role in The Sinner, based on Petra Hammesfahr’s bestselling novel. She plays Cora Tannetti, a  young mother who commits a public act of violence but has no idea why. 

The Sinner has a 94% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus says, “Smartly unpredictable and led by powerful performances from a talented cast, the darkly compelling The Sinner sinks its hooks in fast and doesn’t let go.” 

Biel is up against Laura Dern in The Tale, Michelle Dockery in Godless, Edie Falco in Law and Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders, Regina King in Seven Seconds, and Sarah Paulson in American Horror Story: Cult. Last year’s winner, Nicole Kidman, wasn’t eligible as Big Little Lies’ second season is only due in 2019. 

Ted Danson is up for Best Actor In A Comedy for ‘The Good Place’

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Like InsecureThe Good Place’s first season was universally praised by critics, but snubbed by the Emmys. This year, it was second time lucky though, with Ted Danson cracking the nod to be nominated as Best Actor In a Comedy and Maya Rudolph up for Best Guest Actor. 

The Good Place is about Eleanor (Kristen Bell), who wakes up and finds out that she has died and ended up in an afterlife called The Good Place, designed by Michael (Danson) as a paradise populated only by people who have spent their lives doing good things - which clearly means Eleanor was put there by mistake. 

It’s been 25 years since Danson last won at the Emmys, for Cheers in 1993; to win his third, he’ll need to beat last year’s winner Donald Glover (Atlanta), Anthony Anderson in Black-ish, Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm, Bill Hader in Barry, and William H. Macy in Shameless

All these show are or will be available for streaming on Showmax in the near future.