The 2018 Emmys Love The Lannisters More Than The Starks

photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO.
Game Of Thrones has a lot to celebrate right now. Although the HBO fantasy favorite has been off the airwaves for nearly a full year, it still managed to get the most 2018 Emmy nominations out of any program on television (eligibility runs from June 2017 to May 2018). Yes, that does mean everyone’s favorite song of ice and fire beat out its very recently buzzy HBO sibling Westworld when it comes to awards nods.
But, it’s doubtful everyone in Westeros is ready to party right now. Namely, we’re talking about the entire Stark family and their allies. Not a single member of the famous fictional brood was nominated for an acting Emmy. Yet their rivals, the debt-paying Lannisters, could be swimming in gold come Emmys night.
Ever since Thrones took TV by storm in 2011, HBO has smartly entered all of the series’ performers as supporting actresses and actors in the Emmys race. That makes sense, as it’s difficult to pinpoint one specific star of the Westerosi adventure — is it Jon Snow (Kit Harington)? Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)? Hodor? — and the supporting categories are usually far less competitive than the bloodbath that is the Lead Actor/Actress In A Drama Series fight. Over the last decade, no one wanted to go up against the likes of Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm, Kerry Washington, or Viola Davis.
In 2016, the last year Thrones was eligible for Emmy awards, that savvy decision lead to five Outstanding Supporting Actor/Actress nominations for the Thrones crew, with Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Maisie Williams, Lena Headey, and Peter Dinklage all getting nods.
But, the same can’t be said for 2018. Instead, that wide representation of Westeros’ greatest noble families in the major acting categories was cut down in favor of the Lannisters, and only the Lannisters, this time around. Surprisingly, all three of Tywin Lannister’s (Charles Dance) kids got nominated, while Harington, Clarke, and Williams were all forgotten.
Dinklage, a two-time winner who has been tapped every single year he was eligible, was given a nod for his hard work as Daenerys’ enduring right hand man, Tyrion Lannister. Queen Headey, now a four-time nominee, was recognized for being the most ruthless, paranoid queen in the Seven Kingdoms, Cersei Lannister. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau scored his first-ever Emmy nomination for his work as the most manipulated knight in Westeros, Jaime Lannister.
Headey will battle against a trio of Handmaid’s Tale women (Yvonne Strahovski, last year’s category winner Ann Dowd, and a bumped-up Alexis Bledel, who won her Guest Actress category in 2017), two Netflix stars (Millie Bobby Brown and Vanessa Kirby) and fellow HBO star Thandie Newton of Westworld. Dinklage and Coster-Waldau will compete against a coterie of Peak TV men, from Stranger Things’ David Harbour to Handmaid’s Tale’s Joseph Fiennes.
Coster-Waldau’s newfound Emmys love makes sense, as Jaime was given his strongest, most interesting material yet. Remember his fascinating final conversation with Olenna “Queen Of Thrones” Tyrell (Outstanding Guest Actress nominee Diana Rigg)? Or his multiple uncomfortable throne room encounters with Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk), including the one where Euron asks lots of unsettling sexual questions about Cersei? And “Spoils Of War,” when the military man is confronted by dragons on the battlefield for the first time, may stand as Thrones' best-ever Jaime episode. As we see in the remainder of season 7, the golden knight is forever changed after witnessing that level of massive, fiery, bloody destruction.
While Jaime was finally allowed to truly shine during 2017’s Game Of Thrones run, it’s impossible to say that season belonged to anyone more than Team Targaryen-Stark. The backbone of the seven-episode run was the slow buildup of Dany and Jon’s relationship, which led to series-changing moments like the death, and icy resurrection, of Viserion and the royal pair’s season-closing sex scene. The all-important season finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf,” was named for the newly-minted couple.
In a similar vein, former nominee Williams was also given a number of showy scenes as the murderous Arya Stark. The youngest Stark daughter opened up season 7 with a chill-inducing premiere cold open, where she slaughtered the entire male line of the Frey family with one truly awful dining experience. She then closed the season with another brutal, memorable murder, finally killing Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen).
Yet, the TV academy simply didn’t find these big Dragonstone-Winterfell moments worthy of awards. Maybe they simply couldn’t get past the fact that Williams is the cause of that long-derided Ed Sheeran cameo? Or, maybe, voters decided Kit Harington got all the appreciation he needs for a lifetime over that single infamous butt shot?
Either way, the Academy can make it up to Team Starkgaryen with the 2020 Emmys, when Game Of Thrones will be eligible for awards once again. Until then, hear the Lannisters roar.
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