- Helen Sloan/HBO
- “Game of Thrones” winning best drama of the year at the 2019 Emmys might be confusing if you’re aware of how divisive it was.
- This was the last season, so it felt inevitable that Emmy voters would reward the series as a whole.
- The fifth season of “Game of Thrones” also won 12 Emmys, even though it was arguably the worst to date.
- Plus, the final season was not as universally hated as the internet might lead you to believe.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The final season of “Game of Thrones” was met with an onslaught of criticism, and it dominated Sunday night’s Emmy Awards anyways. Some people may wonder how such a divisive season of television could be rewarded so thoroughly, but the Emmy wins were in line with what many people were expecting based on the history of the show and the awards themselves.
This was the last season of ‘Game of Thrones,’ so it felt inevitable that Emmy voters would reward the series as a whole with a final sendoff win
Award show voters often like to give major legacy shows (or movie trilogies like “Lord of the Rings”) an epic sendoff when it’s the last possible time the series can take home a golden statue.
There are exceptions to the rule – as Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag” proved Sunday night when it beat out the final season of “Veep” – but many people heading into the Emmys were expecting “Game of Thrones” to win and win big. That’s why it wasn’t a surprise to many critics and entertainment journalists when the HBO fantasy epic was declared the most outstanding drama of the year.
By the way, the award is technically for ‘outstanding’ drama – not ‘best’
As Vulture critic Matt Zoller Seitz pointed out in a recent article, the Emmys changed the category title from “best” to “outstanding” in 1960. Even if people conversationally refer to the award as “best drama,” the technical phrasing of “outstanding” means that voters can take into account something other than quality.
“There is an element of buzz, of pop-cultural electricity, to the exercise,” Zoller Seitz writes. “The [outstanding drama] is not just a good or great series, though ideally it ought to be. It’s the one you can’t ignore even if you want to. It’s the show that defines what the medium is, or was, or is about to become.”
Regardless of your thoughts on the final season of “Game of Thrones,” you cannot deny its cultural impact.
This show changed television – full stop.
Heck, the entire world was practically on pause for the months of April and May when “Game of Thrones” returned to air. News cycles about the show came and went, setting new records for articles written about the series and tweets sent and memes distributed.
“Game of Thrones” was a show unlike anything before it, starting in the era of “peak TV” and ending at a time when streaming services dominate the landscape.
We truly may never see its like again. Of course Emmy voters wanted to acknowledge this cultural behemoth one last time.
The fifth season of ‘Game of Thrones’ also won 12 Emmys, even though it was arguably the worst to date
- Helen Sloan/HBO
This is also part of a pattern.
Quality of writing and season-structure has never been a perfect indicator of Emmy wins or losses. On Sunday evening, “Game of Thrones” took home 12 total awards, matching their previous record-breaking 12 wins in 2015 for season five.
Read more: Here are all the 2019 Emmy winners
The fifth season of “Game of Thrones” was plagued with just as much controversy and complaint as the final season, even if those critiques didn’t reverberate with quite the same intensity as season eight.
If you go back through and watch all eight seasons of “Game of Thrones” now, you’ll likely find that the fifth season overall is the weakest. There is a distinct bleak tone to its entirety, and many of the writing complaints fans have with season eight about underdeveloped characters or poor fight scenes are present there.
But that didn’t stop the Emmys from giving “Game of Thrones” a record-number of awards at the time. There’s always been a disconnect in the subjective quality of the show (according to some) and the number of awards its crew and cast take home.
It’s worth noting that event at its lowest point, “Game of Thrones” always delivered phenomenal episodes and performances (like “Hardhome” or Cersei’s devastating “walk of atonement”).
The final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ was not as universally hated as the internet might lead you to believe
Lastly, the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” has plenty of support and admiration among viewers. I can’t tell you the number of people who have told me they really enjoyed and loved the last six episodes of the series.
The internet, whether its Twitter or Reddit or Facebook or article comment sections, tends to amplify negative feedback much more than positive thoughts or comments. And even those who might have found issues with the storylines or shortened season will likely tell you they loved the actors’ performances and are in awe of the clear hard work put in by the production crew.
And so on Sunday night, “Game of Thrones” was hailed as the most outstanding drama of the year – as it should have been.
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- I was backstage at the Emmys and went to HBO’s after-party. Here’s what you didn’t see.
- ‘Game of Thrones’ fans think Gwendoline Christie’s Emmys dress had a subtle nod to Brienne and Jaime’s love story