Despite being a wildly popular, critically acclaimed cultural phenomenon that features excellent performances and feature-film-quality work behind the camera, Game of Thrones has only won a total of two Emmys and Golden Globes in the prestige categories (best series, acting, writing, and directing), both of which went to Peter Dinklage for Best Supporting Actor. This seems … off. And HBO’s programming president Michael Lombardo has a theory as to why, which he shared with Entertainment Weekly.
“What frustrates me about the show is people really love and connect with the characters — but somehow, [the voters] don’t put two and two together that there are great actors embodying those roles,” Lombardo says. “There seems to be a disconnect. This would not work without compelling writing and unbelievable acting and suburb direction. And I think that’s part of the challenge of a show that’s a genre show. I think people think the show is carried along on its production values.”
“I look at it relative to other shows, and these are artists working at the absolute top of their game,” Lombardo says. “Peter Dinklage is as good as any actor on TV. Lena is phenomenal. I guess they’re so good you’re not aware of it. And it’s not about getting awards for HBO, but for them. Behind the dragons and costumes and landscapes there’s unbelievable talent at work. And none of it would be be emotionally relatable if not for artistry in the writing, directing and acting.”
I suppose he has a bit of a point about the production values, but “We don’t win awards because our show looks too good” is kind of like saying “My biggest weakness is that I care too much.” I think there are more likely reason that Game of Thrones hasn’t gotten much Emmy love, some of which include:
- A crowded field, with longtime favorites like Breaking Bad and Mad Men dominating most categories, fancy newcomers like House of Cards swooping in with one arm full of recognizable faces from the world of film (Spacey, Penn, Fincher) and the other arm full of Internet cred, and Homeland, which is about SERIOUZ POLITICS, which is like catnip for Hollywood awards voters.
- The fact that there are a dang zillion characters, so it’s hard for any individual non-Dinklage actor to get enough screen time to push out, say, Anna Gunn or Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad, who may have benefited from a smaller cast.
- The fact that the show is based on a beloved series of books, because, fair or not, it could create the perception that the writers are just transcribing as opposed to developing new stories out of whole cloth.
- I actually don’t have a fourth reason, I just wanted to point out that I used the phrase “Emmy love” in the paragraph leading into these bullet points, and that would be a great name for the main character on some CW drama about absurdly wealthy teenagers.
Of course, the other thing going on here is that nominations for the 2014 Emmys begin June 9, so this could all be a subtle attempt to plant a seed in the minds of voters. “What? He says I didn’t notice the writing and acting because I was distracted by the pretty scenery? HOW DARE HE?! I am a professional! I’ll show him. I’ll nominate EVERYBODY.”
Very sneaky, Michael Lombardo. Verrry sneaky.