Game of Thrones’ Emmy Domination

by: Geoffrey Golia and Krissy Trujillo (w/ Michael Shields)

In the wake of Game of Thrones becoming the all-time leader in Primetime Emmy Awards, Across the Margin turns to its Thrones’ experts for some perspective on this remarkable achievement…


MCS: So, Sunday night was something, huh? It was absolutely exhilarating to watch Game of Thrones take home so much hardware at the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards after such a spectacular season. As of now, no television show in the history of the medium has as many Emmy Awards as Thrones, which has amassed 38 awards (topping – somewhat surprisingly in hindsight – Frasier). While this is remarkable, so too is the fact that “Battle of the Bastards,” the penultimate episode of Season 6, took home 7 Emmys on its own! In my estimation, there is no one who walks this Earth that could put these historical accolades into perspective like the two of you – Across the Margin’s GOT Guru, Geoffrey Golia, and the person who foresaw Sansa Stark’s ascension, Krissy Trujillo. So, let me ask you both – and I’ll let you to take it from here (mostly!) – what did you think of Game of Thrones becoming the all-time leader in Emmy Awards? Does this validate what many of us GOT fanatics believe, that Game of Thrones is the greatest television series of all time?

K.T.: First off: SUCK IT, FRAISER!

Okay, so now that that’s off my chest, we can get down to business. I’m honestly so proud of Game of Thrones, especially as a nerd. Thrones has, in many ways, bridged that gap, and captured the attention of those usually turned off by medieval fantasies. This makes me realize that while I have many bones I can pick with Dungeons & Dragons, I think I should give more credit where it is due. I think I have said this to both of you, but after the final two episodes of Season 6, I was proclaiming that “Battle of The Bastards” and “The Winds of Winter” were the best episodes to date. Mike, I know we specifically discussed the beauty of that shot right before the epic battle which unfolded between the bastards (Ramsay Bolton and Jon Snow) and their armies, where Davos is up on the hill and the sun is rising behind behind him, lighting the sky on fire. If I could have that screenshot blown up, printed, and set as the wallpaper in my bedroom, I honestly would, because it was one of the most stunning shots in the entire series. I’m so glad that penultimate episode received the recognition it deserved, if only for that shot alone – and that was before the battle even began! LAWD….

G.G.: You know, it’s easy to trace GOT’s popularity to what I like to refer to as “The Tudors Factor,” where, particularly in the first few seasons, there was a whole lot of nudity and sexy time, and the show’s appeal was drawn from all the flesh pounding about (although this didn’t help Showtime’s portrayal of Henry VIII’s explorations in narcissism win many major awards). The other theory that gets a lot of play goes that GOT’s critical success was predicated on the special effects (i.e. dragons and green explosions), although, when you think about it, there aren’t enough Technology and Engineering Emmy Awards to match the show’s haul. I guess I would call this “The James Cameron Effect.”

Thus, the two aforementioned theories don’t really explain GOT’s successes at the Emmys. As Ms. Trujillo points out, the show’s strong writing, which both captures the spirit of the books (if not always to the letter) and overcomes the idea that period/fantasy shows are usually niche affairs, along with incredible acting, has cemented GOT’s dominance, as we witnessed Sunday night.

The entire evening was, indeed, a win for nerds.

MCS: I love what you are saying, Geoffrey, about the preponderance of tits (pardon my crassness, I feel we are in a safe space here) and the show’s special effects and how that theory doesn’t quite explain its success. I believe there is a human element that underlies all the momentous events in the series that brings everything home, where connectivity is explored in the most unique and treacherous of situations. Curiously, most of my favorite moments are scenes where it is just two people talking. For example, one of my favorite episodes is “Mockingbird,” which is essentially just characters (Jaime Lannister, Bronn, and Oberyn Martell) visiting Tyrion in his cell and attempting to make sense of his impossible situation. I, too, love the journeys with the duos of Brienne and Jaime, or The Hound and Arya, and I could listen to Tyrion and Varys go back and forth all day.

G.G.: I think book readers love direct references to the text and more obscure aspects of The World of Ice and Fire. I’m reminded of Joffrey perusing the White Book of the Kingsguard and mentioning Ser Duncan the Tall and his four pages of exploits. That depth, I think, also draws in Unsullied (non-book readers) who are attracted to Game of Throne’s enormous backstory, or meta-narrative, but don’t have the time or patience to sift through it. That depth, along the storylines and dialogue that transcend the genre, are a huge part of its immense achievements.

You have to wonder though, given Theon’s sad, awful transformation into Reek, and his post-traumatic growth back into Theon, why Alfie Allen wasn’t given a nod this year for Best Supporting Actor. It’s a really intense story arc, and one that I think tested Allen’s range and skills. I’ll leave the Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) snub to Krissy, though just know that I am 100% behind Team Sansa, the Queen in the North…

K.T.: I definitely agree that Alfie Allen should have been a serious contender this season. I think he and Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) both stood out as actors. But I do understand why Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage keep getting nominated, yet I am not sure that they were the most impressive performances overall this season. ¯\_()_/¯

Oh man, you have opened up a can of worms here, Geoffrey. I feel the same about Sophie’s snub as I felt about Michelle Fairley’s (Catelyn Stark) snub for Season 3 in the 2014 Emmys. That season we saw these beautiful, character developing moments with Catelyn Stark leading up to and through The Red Wedding. Personally, I’ve always felt that Cat was shafted on the show. As a POV character in the books (and my fave), I often felt that her story arc wasn’t written in the show as well as it should have been.

And don’t even get me started on the omission of Lady Stoneheart! However, in the second episode of the third season, “Dark Wings, Dark Words,” I distinctly remember the scene where Cat is speaking to Talisa as she makes this wreath to protect Robb. Talisa asks if she has made them before, and she says twice, once for Brann when he fell out of the tower, and then again when one of “the boys” had gotten really sick. She then reveals it was actually Jon Snow, and the way Michelle Fairley brilliantly played Cat in moments like these, you really saw her plight remembering how she had prayed to the Gods that they would just take this innocent child. She speaks of how she promised to love him if they kept him alive and how she recognized that she was a monster for succumbing to her jealousy. But in the end, she couldn’t keep her promise, and this is why her family has been punished.

You really feel the pain and guilt she’s living with in that admission, and it’s so real and relatable. It was such a beautifully written and acted moment, and all she got for it was an Emmy snub. I felt that way about Sophie this year too. Between last season and this most recent one, we really saw her acting potential grow with her character, and while I think Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) are fantastic, I thought Sophie had a stronger performance than both of them.

I was totally on board with Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) being nominated though. I think her portrayal of Cersei is so important to the series, and so affecting. One day I’m going to write a book about how she’s television’s modern day Lady Macbeth. Krissy Trujillo: Defender of Game of Throne’s Unpopular Female Characters.

G.G.: I believe that Michelle Fairley would have been nominated for sure if they had introduced Lady Stoneheart, which somehow just doesn’t seem fair. What I think Krissy is speaking to is the emotional burden that these characters carry, which translates well from book to screen through these actors. This is the essence of Game of Throne’s success and critical acclaim. It’s probably one of the things that keeps the more hardcore book readers tuning in.

As I’ve spoken about before, I’m nervous, as a book reader, about the future direction of the show and the impact that will have on our experiencing the novels. I suspect that the final season will probably dominate the Emmys in the way Return of the King just completely swept the Oscars in 2004. I also suspect that many folks who have avoided the show will find the social pressure (FOMO) too great, will binge watch the previous seasons, crash the Wiki and the forums, and tune in. Heck, maybe they’ll even pick up the books.

K.T.: ​It’s funny, I remember a lot of people on the internet saying that Michelle Fairley will have her moment when Lady Stoneheart was introduced. Oops. But, I don’t think you’re far off in that prediction, Geoffrey. ​According to Entertainment Weekly, there was a 15% increase in viewership this year for the finale over last year’s, and I know a lot of people who binged the entire series right before Season 6 just to catch up. If that increase in viewership continues on that trajectory, I can’t see how that won’t happen.

You know what could make things interesting? If George R.R. Martin decides to alter the ending of the books from the show. This would give people who normally wouldn’t a reason to pick them up and read them. But can I circle back to “Battle of the Bastards” for a second and say how beautiful the actual battle scene was! I am extremely claustrophobic, and the point at which Jon gets trapped under all the men as they trample on his chest was one of the most difficult scenes I’ve ever had to watch on that damn show. Then to find out being buried alive is actually Kit’s greatest fear, a horror he used as inspiration to heighten that scene truly indicates his passion and dedication to the show.

Overall, I’m bummed the show is coming to an end, and a shortened end at that, but as long as the following are touched upon, I think I’ll be satisfied:

– Dany’s third betrayal.

– Tyrion being the third head (I’m sticking with this theory and running with it forever).

– Stark family reunion 2k17.

-Tormund and Brienne living happily ever after.

-Someone revealing that Varys actually travels time and space in a TARDIS.

How about you, Geoffrey, what burning questions or plots would you like to see touched upon for the show to truly feel complete? Who ends up ultimately sitting in The Iron Throne and what happens now that Winter is here?

G.G.: I guess my takeaway from all of this is the show’s success is about leveraging Martin’s oft-repeated refrain that “the human heart in conflict with itself is the only thing worth writing about.” Although Faulkner said it first, it holds true here in this television adaptation. Martin’s plot is fundamentally about people (and semi-sentient magical animals and ice-zombies), and how they manage in a universe that is deeply mysterious, strange, and brutal. But it’s also a universe where extraordinary things happen, and every now and again, something truly heartwarming unfolds (Sansa’s reunion with Jon, for example). I feel like I’m repeating myself, but maybe it bears repeating: if the best television is the kind that appeals to real human experience and conflict, even if it is fantasy, then Game of Thrones deserves to be discussed as one of the greatest television shows ever.

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