There’s no denying the momentum of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” particularly this past month as it aired the final episodes of its third sesaon. After the show’s watercooler episode “The Rains of Castamere” premiered, the entire country seemed to have “Red Wedding” fever. A week later, the Critics’ Choice Television Awards named “Game of Thrones” their Best Drama Series (tying with “Breaking Bad“) and the Television Critics Association nominated the show as Program of the Year (a prize it won last year) and Best Achievement in Drama.
Critics also fell head-over-severed-hand for Season Three, which nabbed an impressive score of 90 at Metacritic. Compare that to an 88 score for the second season and a 79 score for the first year. And whether or not HBO is proud of this next achievement, “Game of Thrones” actually ranked as the most-pirated TV show of the season according to TorrentFreak, meaning the number of viewers actually doubled after illegal downloads were taken into consideration.
Despite all those kudos and fan buzz, “Game of Thrones” is only tracking in third place in Gold Derby’s polling of Experts, Editors and Users, behind last year’s winner “Homeland” and overdue “Breaking Bad.” In fact, only one Expert (Lynette Rice, “Entertainment Weekly”) and one Editor (Rob Licuria) have the guts to predict “Game of Thrones” in their top position as Best Drama Series.
The reason so few pollsters are predicting “Game of Thrones” to win the top prize might be because of that nasty sci-fi/fantasy bias toward genre shows. The thinking might be: why waste a vote on “Game of Thrones” when a show of a similar ilk — “Lost” — has only won Best Drama Series once in six decades?
While the genre bias still exists, it’s beginning to wear down. Besides winning Best Drama Series in 2005, “Lost” also earned a Best Director trophy for J.J. Abrams (“Pilot”). Throughout the show’s six-year run, it claimed victory for two of its supporting actors — Terry O’Quinn (2007) and Michael Emerson (2009) — and nabbed a total of seven Creative Arts Emmys.
Similar-skewing dramas like “Heroes” (2007) and “True Blood” (2010) also managed to score nominations in the top series category as well as for acting: Masi Oka for NBC’s comic-book drama and Alfre Woodard for HBO’s vampire nailbiter. While none of these bids turned into victories, the fact that they were even nominated shows just how much the Emmys have come post-“Lost.”
So far, “Game of Thrones” has only been through the ringer of two Emmy cycles, so it’s still too early to tell whether it’ll be the next “Lost” in terms of awards. But things are definitely heading in the right direction.
The first season nabbed 13 Emmy nominations and two wins (Peter Dinklage as Drama Supporting Actor and Main Title Design). Season Two scored another 12 nominations, but this time took home three times as many trophies (Art Direction, Costumes, Makeup, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects).
For “Game of Thrones” to be a serious Emmy contender and follow in “Lost’s” award-winning footsteps, the series will need to score more attention at the Primetime ceremony. Possibilities this year include Best Writing and Best Directing nominations for “The Rains of Castamere,” Drama Supporting Actor nominations for Dinklage or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Drama Supporting Actress bids for Michelle Fairley, Lena Headey or Emilia Clarke.
Find out if “Game of Thrones” has what it takes to break out of the sci-fi/fantasy curse when Emmy nominations are announced July 18. Neil Patrick Harris hosts the 65th Primetime Emmys September 22 on CBS.
Meantime, start logging your own predictions below.