Note: Wrapping up the series today, the Awards Daily TV Crew made the case for each nominee in the Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Drama Series categories in random order. The voting period ends Friday, so share/retweet your favorites to build the buzz!
HBO’s Game of Thrones
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Number of Nominations: 24
Major Nominations: Outstanding Drama Series, Supporting Actor Drama (Peter Dinklage), Supporting Actress Drama (Emilia Clarke), Supporting Actress Drama (Lena Headey), Direction (“Mother’s Mercy”), Direction (“Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”), Writing (“Mother’s Mercy”)
Game of Thrones is the last show in the group of Outstanding Drama Series nominees that needs advocacy. Boasting a series-best and category-leading 24 nominations, the elaborate fantasy series is the most watched of all dramatic nominees. It is the biggest, most expensive, and most elaborate of all nominees. It is the only drama nominee to feature nominations in the directing, writing, and acting categories. Advocating for Game of Thrones is rather like traveling back in time and advocating for James Cameron’s Titanic. It should be the de facto frontrunner, but it’s not. Could a show with everything going for it actually be an underdog?
There are two central arguments against Game of Thrones: its positioning as a fantasy show as well as some rumbling that the season wasn’t as good this year. Both arguments are total nonsense. First, the fantasy curse at the Emmys, I suspect, will soon come to an end. It’s not that people are greatly embracing fantasy shows in record numbers of late, but I believe the recent rule change (eschewing the elitist panel in favor of a popular vote) may be the catalyst to incite such change. Thrones is a fantasy show, first and foremost, but the fantasy element is well blended with a strong human core. It’s not the dragons or witches or white walkers that keep people engrossed, it’s the human bonds and power struggles that hold us fast. It’s the buzzy-worthy moments – whether they enticed you or enraged you – that you remember, that made you feel excitement or anger. The emotional reaction to the drama may fade but the water cooler moments you remember.
Jon Snow mercy killing Mance Rayder, an event that is eerily paralleled in the season finale. The Sons of the Harpies raiding Meereen, killing many of Daenerys’s closest advocates in the process. Margaery Tyrell holding authority over a new king, taunting his mother Cersei, and raging against Cersei chained in a prison cell. The white walkers and their army of zombies waging war at Hardhome, giving us the closest view of their power and magic to date. Ser Jorah Mormont embarked on a quest for redemption within the eyes of Daenerys, only to be infected with the deadly Greyscale disease. Stannis Baratheon losing his mind to the madness of his fight for the Iron Throne so deeply that he allowed the witch Melissandre to sacrifice his own daughter. Deanerys’s maternal bond to her dragon causes him to swoop in from the sky and protect her against an attacking army of Harpies. Cersei’s wicked ways resulting in her literal walk to shame in the midst of the punishing hoards.
These are but a handful of the best moments of Season Five, illustrating the human power and magic of the season and refuting those who claimed the season had gone astray of its former greatest. In a way, Season Five served as a resetting of the chess pieces played at the end of Season Four as we begin the run to its final season. It is also the toughest season to take, given the ruthless and relentless deaths that continue to weigh heavily upon us. For those willing to invest the time and emotion in the story set before them, Game of Thrones continues to dazzle and reward as the best television shows always do. It doesn’t care to cater to audience demands or expectations. It is doggedly its own entity, cantankerously refusing to become predictable as it extends beyond the series of novels that inspired it.
Just because Game of Thrones hasn’t finished its run doesn’t mean that the Television Academy should ignore its greatness when warranted. Clearly, the show has resonated, garnering nominations in unexpected places. There isn’t a drama on television that marries excellence in acting, writing, and direction with an expansive and exotic palate of costumes, sets and locales as well as this one does. Coupled with record ratings and the negative buzz that only massively successful entities could warrant, Game of Thrones is the perfect picture of a modern Emmy winner, and in the new era of populist voting, I offer it up as your most deserving Emmy winner.
The winner is coming…