In a year that many expected Mad Men's final season to sweep the Emmys, it was HBO's fantasy series Game of Thrones that defiantly owned the evening instead, racking up a stunning 12 wins — the most in Emmy history. Along with eight awards in technical categories presented during the Creative Arts Emmys last week, the show took home four different awards during tonight's televised show, including Outstanding Drama Series. With that win it beat out not just Mad Men but shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, and Downton Abbey, as well.
Peter Dinklage won Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his performance as Tyrion Lannister, winning out over favorite Jonathan Banks, while director David Nutter won for his work on the season finale "Mother's Mercy." Writers and show creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss also won for Outstanding Writing, marking the first time in the show's history that it's taken home the writing and directing awards.
A full-throated victory for Game of Thrones
While the show has won its share of Emmys in the past, they've often been relegated to technical categories like make-up, costume design, or cinematography, but tonight was a full-throated victory for Thrones. What's curious is that it has happened for a season during which many fans felt the show had lost some of its spark. After a troubling fourth season in which the show took its casual and callous fascination with rape too far, it seemed to double down on those tendencies once again, upsetting many viewers during an episode in which Sophie Turner's Sansa Stark was viciously brutalized.
Mad Men, on the other hand, has consistently been regarded as one of the best television shows ever created. Its final season was patient and methodical, and while toward the final episodes it seemed it would leave fans hanging with no real resolution, it instead found a way to return to some of its most essential themes for a final sequence that wasn't just memorable in the context of the show — it was memorable enough to be parodied by Emmy host Andy Samberg as part of a musical number. The final season was also enough for star Jon Hamm to finally win an Emmy after eight nominations, but apparently not to keep the wild, combative forces of Westeros at bay.