'Game of Thrones' Season 8 Only Deserved 7 of Its 10 Emmy Wins Last Night

Some of these are downright laughable.

The winners of the “real” Emmys won’t be announced until the televised ceremony on September 22, but the technical awards (formally known as the Creative Arts Emmys and colloquially known as the You Guys Couldn’t Make TV Without Us Emmys) were handed out this past weekend. In a truly shocking turn of events, Game of Thrones (one of the more critically and commercially successful TV series of all time) took home a nice handful for itself. Of its 32 overall nominations across the Emmys the show’s final season [has already won 10](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/71st_Primetime_Creative_Arts_Emmy_Awards].

But wait, you say, wasn’t the final season of Game of Thrones polarizing to say the least? It really is to say the very least; critical and fan reception skewed towards outright scathing. The final season wasn’t without its significant merits (“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” remains an all-time great episode) but it seemed each great moment was matched with an equally low point.

There are almost certainly more Emmys to come for everyone’s favorite show about naked people and swords and dragons, but for now, let’s take stock of what Game of Thrones won so far, and whether or not it deserves those accolades to begin with.

Dany and Tyrion in the Chamber of the Painted Table on Dragonstone.
Dany and Tyrion in the Chamber of the Painted Table on Dragonstone.

Outstanding Casting For a Drama Series - Yes

It’s hard to argue with this one. Both the final season and the series as a whole featured inspired casting from series leads to walk-on roles. Even the least-developed roles in the final season like Harry Strickland and Euron Greyjoy were portrayed by actors who made the most of what they were given.

Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costuming (“The Bells”) - No

“The Bells” will always be a contentious episode of Thrones, and with good reason. The episode’s writing is uneven and features a few moments that stand out as some of the poorest creative decisions made over the course of the series. However, from a directorial and production standpoint, it’s a nearly perfect episode of television: brutal and tense and heartbreaking throughout. The costuming is an undeniably stellar feat, but it can’t hold a candle to those of Good Omens, its fellow nominee that should have taken home the prize. The wardrobe designs for Aziraphale and Crowley are instantly iconic and should have been recognized as such.

Outstanding Main Title Design - Yes

It’s hard to think of a main title sequence this decade that has been quite as iconic as that of Thrones. When paired with Ramin Djawadi’s memorable theme music (more on that later) it is perhaps the single most well-deserved award it took home this year. The fact that Season 8 created a new title sequence from scratch that was somehow even more exciting is a testament to the graphics studio behind the animated into.

arya night king
Arya Stark moments before slaying the Night King in "The Long Night."

Outstanding Make-Up For a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) (“The Long Night) - Yes

Another easy call, the make-up in “The Long Night” is pretty much perfect and lends to the tension and atmosphere of the thrilling episode tremendously. There’s a lot to argue about with regard to “The Long Night” (more on that in a minute) but this feels like an easy call.

Outstanding Music Composition For a Series (Original Dramatic Score), Ramin Djawadi - Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Save for Nicholas Brittel on Succession (whose work is only a season-and-a-half in), there’s nobody in television today doing the caliber of work Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi did. Epic, iconic, and a truly transformative display of musical excellence throughout the entire series, Djawadi even managed to save some of his best work for last. The cues in “The Bells” and “The Iron Throne” are as memorable as his work on “The Rains of Castamere” was years ago.

Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For a Drama Series (“The Long Night”) - Yes

Game of Thrones’ biggest competition in this category was itself —“The Iron Throne” and “Winterfell” were both nominated as well. It’s tough to argue with “The Long Night” as the winner, though. The Arya-Wight sequence alone was a masterclass of tension and editing, even if some parts of the episode were kind of difficult to actually see.

Outstanding Sound Editing For a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) (“The Long Night”) - No

This award should have gone to “The Bells,” an episode of Thrones which wasn’t even nominated. The sound editing in that episode is one of the highlights, with the sound of the destruction of a city being composed so well it’s bone-chilling to listen to.

Outstanding Sound Mixing For a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour) (“The Long Night”) - No

See above.

game of thrones the bells arya stark
"The Bells" had many epic stunts, and quite a few involving Arya Stark.

Outstanding Special Visual Effects (“The Bells”) - Yes

“The Bells” is controversial, sure, but as a technical achievement, it’s unimpeachable. The scope of Game of Thrones’ VFX have never been more vast or more effective. Watching King’s Landing crumble under a hail of dragonfire is a gutting experience, and the people responsible for creating such a tangible apocalypse deserve every bit of acclaim that comes their way.

Outstanding Stunt Coordination For a Drama Series, Limited Series, or Movie - Yes

It’s hard enough to argue against Game of Thrones here given its middling competition in the form of shows like Blindspot and SEAL Team. Still, what the show accomplished in the realm of stunts over the course of its run was spectacular - even if we never got the Jon Snow/Grey Worm showdown that seemed to be coming towards the series’ end.


Game of Thrones will win even more awards when the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards air September 22, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on FOX.