Why 'Game of Thrones' Still Deserves to Set an Emmys Record After Controversial Final Season

emilia clarke daenerys game of thrones finale

Game of Thrones could set Emmys records on Sunday, and despite its divisive final season, it deserves to. 

The HBO series has already amassed 57 Emmys across its eight-season run (including the 10 it took home at the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend), and is up for seven more at Sunday's awards show. The Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and Directing for a Drama Series categories all have at least three GoT castmembers or crew up against each other; any three wins on Sunday night will break the series' own record of 12 wins in a single year (accomplished in both 2015 and 2016) with 13. 

Game of Thrones -- the most awarded scripted drama in Emmys history -- debuted its eighth season in April, nearly two years after the conclusion of season seven in August 2017. The final season's storyline was met with fan backlash so intense that a petition was created to have it remade. Viewers who had previously worshipped the show's storytelling found themselves slamming the GoT creative team for the ending of the White Walker story, Daenerys' big turn, Cersei's lack of action and Bran the Broken becoming king. 

Macall B. Polay - HBO

While the scripts were torn apart by some (it should be noted that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss did earn an Emmy nomination for their writing on the series finale, "The Iron Throne") the cinematic effort that went into Thrones' final season can't be disputed. Nine months of shooting went into filming the season's six episodes, nearly all of which sat at a runtime of over an hour. 

When you could see it (yes, we're talking about the 80 minutes of darkness that was "The Long Night"), it was stunning. And as star Nathalie Emmanuel noted, you watched it either way. 

"In light of the reaction to the end of the season, which, by the way, I think most people I know enjoyed it -- I think it's easy to focus on the negative, and I think people forget what those two did," she told ET of Weiss and Benioff in July.   

"Obviously the whole writing team and everyone responsible and involved, but I think people forget that... they literally made us hang onto their every word for 10 years," she added. "And to me, that makes them legends."

Kit Harington made the same argument (albeit with more expletives) to Esquire. "I think no matter what anyone thinks about this season -- and I don’t mean to sound mean about critics here -- but whatever critic spends half an hour writing about this season and makes their [negative] judgement on it, in my head, they can go f**k themselves," he said. 

"I know how much work was put into this," he continued. "I know how much people cared about this. I know how much pressure people put on themselves and I know how many sleepless nights working or otherwise people had on this show. Because they cared about it so much. Because they cared about the characters. Because they cared about the story. Because they cared about not letting people down."


Harington himself is nominated for an Emmy at Sunday's awards show, as are Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams. Alfie Allen and Gwendoline Christie are also nominated from the cast -- after submitting themselves for consideration. And each actor earned their nods. They were nominated because their performances this season really were that good. 

Thrones' 32 Emmy nominations this year make it the most nominated season of television ever -- and it's deserved. The battle scenes, the costuming, the visual effects, the acting and yes, even the writing and directing, embodied what it means to be the best in the business. 

For nearly 10 years, GoT ruled the water cooler, with new series struggling to follow in its footsteps. We all talked about Ned's beheading, the Red Wedding, the Wall crumbling and Dany's dark side. And that's why Game of Thrones deserves to make Emmys history. Plus, what's three more wins, right? 

The 2019 Emmys will air live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 22 at 8 pm. ET/5 p.m. PT on Fox.


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