Did Game of Thrones Deserve More Emmys?


A random Emmy statue from Wikipedia.

Was Game of Thrones was robbed at Monday night’s 2014 Emmys — the American award show honoring television excellence? Despite being nominated for 19 Emmy awards, Game of Thrones scored no telecast awards for its writing, acting, or directing and only received four or five awards in the creative arts category:

  • Art direction for a contemporary or fantasy series for the episodes “The Laws of Gods and Men” and “The Mountain and the Viper”
  • Costumes for a series “The Lion and The Rose”
  • Prosthetic makeup for a series, miniseries, movie or a special “The Children”
  • Special and visual effects “The Children”
  • User Experience and Visual Design

Worse, poor Weird Al Yanko handed poor George RR Martin a typewriter and told him to write faster.  GRRM laughed it off, but you’ve gotta wonder if it chaffed a little.

If Game of Thrones had to lose to any other show, the DAZZLING groundbreakingly postmodern Sherlock is the one you would want to lose to. It’s unfortunate for HBO that this happened to be a Sherlock year — the darn thing is only spooned out to us in tiny dollops every two years.


Sherlock, when you’re gone for two years, we notice. Source: The Cutter Alicia

Sherlock is one of the few shows currently on television whose writing, direction, and acting rivals — and possibly surpasses —  Game of Thrones.  It’s no surprise it won seven Emmys even though (allegedly) only 1% of Americans have seen it. (If you  haven’t seen Sherlock yet, it’s on Netflix in the US.  Be patient during the first two episodes — the first is slow and the second is dreadful — and then clear your weekend: uncontrolled binge viewing may be hard to avoid.)

Over the next few days, we’re running a series of articles that talk about several of the reasons the Game of Thrones creative teams working behind the scenes deserved these Emmy awards.

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."


  • Reply August 28, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    It’s hard for me to judge because I haven’t seen a lot of the shows that did win. I tried watching “Mad Men” when it first came out and decided it wasn’t for me. “Breaking Bad” doesn’t seem to be on any FreeView channels in the UK so I have not been able to see it. I don’t have satellite or cable and I can’t cadge a watch of ALL the non-Freeview shows aired off friends. A lot of the award shows annoy me anyway (not just the American ones the British ones too). so I tend to catch up with the highlights on the news. I get the feeling that some show creators feel they are being clever and that turns me off. I could be quite wrong because American TV is, I understand, very competitive and shows will be “pulled” if they are not watched by enough people. I never warmed to “The Sopranos” the way many people did. I’m not one of those who think all shows have to be “feel good” shows but “The Sopranos” was just too “feel bad” for me.

    Is it possible that “Game of Thrones” has too many non-Americans in it for The Emmys (although despite being American Peter Dinklage didn’t win and I thought he had a chance and Pedro Pascal I thought at least deserved a nomination)? I believe it is strictly speaking an American show made with American money. For the actors, I think just being in a show like “Game of Thrones” can be beneficial. Michelle Fairley had popped up on British TV over the years but would she have been considered for stints on “Suits” and “24” if she had not played the late Lady Stark? I would like the composer of the music for “Game of Thrones” to gain some recognition.

    • Reply August 28, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      Hey Watcher,
      One thing I’ve read is that “genre” shows — e.g., fantasy or horror — don’t do well at the Emmys. I think I read that a genre show hasn’t won best show (?) in roughly twenty years or something. I also think shows that are extremely commercially successful are less apt to win. I agree about Pedro Pascal. I also agree about the exposure. One reason they release Sherlock so rarely is because Cumberbatch and Freeman have gotten so popular from being on Sherlock that the show now has trouble getting their time. Thanks for your interesting comment.

  • Reply August 28, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    I hope I didn’t come across as “Union Jackish”. Good TV is good TV wherever it comes from. In the UK shows from abroad tend to be from America, though a few Canadian ones are sneaking in (e.g. “Orphan Black”) and a few Australian ones (there’s an Australian one that is about a women’s prison though I’m not sure if it’s airing now – might be called “Wentworth Prison”) and a few Irish and European ones (e.g. “Love/Hate”, the Scandinavian version of “The Bridge” and the French “Engrenages”). Is “Breaking Bad” more of an “art-house” success than a commercial one then? I had gained the impression it was very popular.- but as I say in the UK it’s hard to watch – legally at least if you don’t have subscription TV. (Though of course we pay for the BBC in the UK through our TV licences).

    Also, I would not like to give the impression that I do not consider American thespians to be worth their salt. I do love a good American cop show. I liked a lot of the “Law and Order” programmes when they were still running, though I particularly admired Margita Hargitay in “Law and Order, SVU”. [Is that one still running?] I knew she was the daughter of one of the Tarzan actors but it wasn’t until comparatively recently that I realised she was the daughter of the late Jayne Mansfield.

  • Reply August 28, 2014


    Typically fantasy, horror and science fiction just don’t do well period. It might be in part because of costs, but American television is littered with series that had the plug pulled on them and even the ones that made it for multiple seasons typically didn’t get any distinguished awards.

  • Reply August 28, 2014


    Game of Thrones and Sherlock are not in the same category and did not compete with each other. Sherlock is in the mini-series, drama category, and GoT is in the dramatic series category with Breaking Bad.

    I don’t know if I agree GoT (or Sherlock, for that matter) is the best series on TV, but the Emmys have always been a joke. It is possibly an even worse indicator of quality than the Golden Globe. The Emmys are notorious for voting year after year after year, ad nauseum, for the same shows or actors, regardless of whether they are any good in that season. I don’t know if most of the voters of the organization even watch most of the shows.

    Some of the best shows (by professional critics) have never won Emmy, usually because it is too edgy and/or the creators and producers are powerful industry insiders. Examples include The Wire and Deadwood, to name two. It’s a club.

    • Reply August 28, 2014


      Sorry, I mean “… are NOT powerful industry insiders.”

  • Reply August 30, 2014

    Jamie Adair

    Very good point about Sherlock and Game of Thrones not being in the same category. Admittedly, I don’t know much about the Emmys. I used to always watch the Oscars until (IMO) the movies died and the quality writing moved to television.

    More than anything, I latched on to the Emmy’s as a way to showcase some of the artistry in the show.

    Also, your comment about Sherlock and GoT not necessarily being the two best shows on TV is quite fair. Just because they are two of *my* favorite shows, doesn’t mean they are the best! I’ve heard The Wire is (?) was (?) excellent, but I have never really sat down and watched it.

    >>” The Emmys are notorious for voting year after year after year, ad nauseum, for the same shows or actors, ”
    I’m surprised how many names are repeats. I think Peter Dinklage is a great actor, but I’m surprised he was nominated two years in a row when others like Iwan Rheon (the guy that plays Ramsay Bolton) could have a chance.

    I’m writing an article about True Blood and its 1980s historical allusions for Ross Wittenham’s blog, and I’m surprised how good the writing was in the second half of this season. (Previous seasons weren’t great.) In fact, it is so good that I’m surprised the writing wasn’t nominated – although it is probably too early. Still, I doubt it will be because it is a genre show about vampires.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.