The 71st Emmy Awards bent the knee to HBO’s fantasy epic “Game of Thrones,” which closed out Sunday night’s ceremony by nabbing the prize for best drama series. HBO also had the most wins of the night, with nine, to Amazon’s seven and Netflix’s four.
D.B. Weiss and David Benioff’s series, based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, ended its eighth and final season in May with a divisive finale and tepid reviews but still managed to become the most-watched program in the premium cable network’s history, with 19.3 million viewers.
And Emmy voters followed suit.
Despite its polarizing farewell run, the blockbuster series racked up a record 32 Emmy nominations this year. Last weekend, it took 10 prizes at the Creative Arts Emmys.
A significant number of the series’ nominations came from its cast, which after years of struggling to make a major impression on the acting categories — with the exception of multiple winner and eight-time nominee Peter Dinklage — fielded nine nominees: Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington, nominated in the lead actress and actor categories; supporting actors Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Alfie Allen; and supporting actresses Maisie Williams, Lena Headey, Gwendoline Christie and Sophie Turner.
The only cast member to triumph Sunday night was Dinklage, setting an Emmy record in the process.
“I’ve seen a doctor about getting him out,” he joked backstage of his character, the oft-disrespected but highly formidable Tyrion Lannister. “It’s been 10 years ... and you can’t shake that very easily. Nor do you want to shake any of these people.”
When asked what he hoped for the legacy of the show, Benioff — who lost out for both writing and directing for a drama series, to “Succession” and “Ozark,” respectively — said, “It’s not really up for us to decide.”
“We hope that they watch it and like it in the future. We hope that it holds up,” he continued. There’s no way to tell how things will be perceived in 10 years or 20 years, even in five years. These things change so fast and the landscape of Hollywood changes so quickly. It’s changing right now as we’re standing here. It’s so gratifying to reach this many people, and we hope that the people who are maybe too young to be watching it now will grow up and watch it as well.”
“Game of Thrones,” which wasn’t always an Emmy front-runner, amassed 160 nominations during its run from 2011 to 2019, with 59 wins.
Staff writer Sonaiya Kelley contributed to this report.