Sunday, July 14, 2024

Can “House Of The Dragon” Ascend The Emmys’ Iron Throne Quicker Than “Game Of Thrones” Did?

This past Sunday, the second season of “House of the Dragon” launched, kicking off the next phase of the ancient Targaryen Green vs Black civil war. In essence, it also helped kick off the 2024-25 Emmy season, as it premiered just a few weeks after the deadline it missed to make the 2023-24 Emmys. But although the 2025 Emmys are fifteen months away, a prequel to the four-time Best Drama Emmy series winner “Game of Thrones” can never be too far away from consideration – yet an Emmy breakthrough next year would put it ahead of schedule of its legendary predecessor.

Despite virtually sweeping the Emmys in the second half of its existence, even when some would argue it shouldn’t have, “Game of Thrones” was not always an Emmy juggernaut. In fact, it’s almost quaint to remember a time when its first four seasons were largely ignored by the Emmys, with the exception of Peter Dinklage in Best Supporting Actor.

In that context, it is almost fitting that the first season of “House of the Dragon” was almost similarly snubbed. Combined with the Creative Emmys, “House of the Dragon” received nine nominations in total for its first season, trailing the thirteen for “Game of Thrones” Season One. Nonetheless, both only won one Emmy each for their debut seasons, although “Game of Thrones’s” first Emmy was Dinklage’s first. For that matter, while both “House of the Dragon” and “Game of Thrones” received Best Drama Series nominations, only “Game of Thrones” also got nominated for Writing, Directing, and acting.

Still, with the exception of Dinklage, “Game of Thrones” was an afterthought on its first Emmy night, thanks to the likes of “Mad Men,” “Friday Night Lights” and more. Likewise, “House of the Dragon” was even more of a footnote at the 2023 Emmys, not the least of which because the strike pushed them back into January 2024 and delayed “Succession’s” final coronation.

Now that “House of the Dragon” is heading into its second season, one can look ahead and wonder how its second shot at the Emmys will compare to that of “Game of Thrones.” In a way, “Game of Thrones” took a slight leap forward at the 2012 Emmys, winning five Creative awards. However, in another way, it took a step backward in the major categories, as it was only nominated and lost for Best Drama Series and Dinklage. Meanwhile, “Homeland’s” first season all but swept the Drama categories, and “Breaking Bad’s” Aaron Paul retook Best Supporting Actor from Dinklage after he couldn’t face him in 2011.

Despite already being a phenomenon by the 2012 Emmys, it was still going to take the Emmys a few more years to catch up to “Game of Thrones.” Part of that had to do with timing since the likes of “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” were still on the air and had a few more years of awards season dominance to go. When they were gone by the middle of the 2010s, the window was finally open for “Game of Thrones” to take control of the Emmys in 2015 – in its fifth season – and not relinquish them for the rest of the decade. Yet, funny enough, “House of the Dragon” has already stumbled onto such an open window in a much quicker fashion.Whether or not it had already reached “Game of Thrones” heights in its first season, whether or not the most bitter “Game of Thrones” fans had let its final season go by then, and whether or not Emmy voters felt too fatigued to embrace the “Game of Thrones” universe again, none of it would have mattered at the 2023 Emmys. Thanks to HBO’s “Game of Thrones” successor in “Succession” airing its far more critically acclaimed final season, nothing on Earth was going to beat it that year – not even the prequel to a four-time Best Drama winner. But now that “Succession” is over, TV Drama now faces its biggest hole since “Game of Thrones” left.

As many Emmy analysts have already pointed out, that is being reflected in the projected 2024 Emmy lineup. Until “Shogun” made its controversial move from Limited Series to Best Drama with its sudden two-season renewal, most pundits were resigned to the mixed-reviewed final season of “The Crown” sweeping a weak field due to a lack of competition—just like how the last season of “Game of Thrones” did so in 2019.

With that kind of open field, some surely wondered why “House of the Dragon” didn’t just move its Season Two premiere up to May, sneak into consideration at the last minute, and take advantage. Yet even though it didn’t go that way, it still looks like it could face a relatively open field in 2025, too. Likely 2024 frontrunners “The Crown” and “Shogun” won’t be back in 2025, potential nominees like “The Curse” and “Loki” won’t be back either, potential new genre favorites “Fallout” and “3 Body Problem” – the latter from “Game of Thrones” own D.B. Weiss and David Benioff – may or may not have a Season Two ready for 2025, and possible 2024 nominees “The Morning Show,” “The Gilded Age” and “Slow Horses” aren’t considered Emmy winner favorites yet.

At the bare minimum, barring some brand new drama favorites emerging, it should be pretty easy for “House of the Dragon” to slip into the Best Drama Series category again. Depending on the rest of the field and what kind of dramatic fireworks are actually in Season Two, there may be room for writing, directing, and/or acting nominations this time, too. Though just because some old dramatic favorites are leaving or won’t be eligible in 2025, it doesn’t mean all of them are.

In all likelihood, the 2025 Emmys will also have plenty of room for Season Two of “The Last of Us” and “Andor,” Season Three of “Yellowjackets” and “The White Lotus” and maybe even Season Four of “The Boys.” Still, considering the massive scrutiny and pressure ahead, particularly for the likes of “The Last of Us,” “The White Lotus,” and “Andor,” even the slightest misstep and potential backlash could prove disastrous for them.

In contrast, “House of the Dragon” is kind of coming in under the radar by comparison and will already go through any divisive cycles long before those other shows come back on the air. But on the flip side, even if “House of the Dragon” avoids angry fans and takes a giant creative leap in the summer of 2024, will that still be remembered in the summer of 2025 after the headlines “The Last of Us” “The White Lotus” and any newer favorites make the rest of the year?Since this is only June 2024, there can and should be many twists and turns we don’t see coming before June 2025. A lot of those twists will have to go “House of the Dragon’s” way if it is to start indeed inching closer to “Game of Thrones’s” Emmy legacy right now. But then again, considering how that legacy didn’t really begin until Season Five, maybe Season Two is fairly early for “House of the Dragon” to start catching up.

There’s nothing that says a prequel to a multi-Emmy-winning show has to win big, too. After all, “Better Call Saul” never won a single Emmy, let alone the dozens “Breaking Bad” did – in spite of many critics and pundits arguing for it. Right now, “House of the Dragon” is still a ways off from having that many critics and pundits get behind its Emmy campaign, so perhaps that will have to be the next realistic step forward.

The next seven weeks of “House of the Dragon” will show if it is ready to take that kind of next step and whether it is closer to being a mere footnote or a true major chapter in the overall “Game of Thrones” legacy. Those episodes will undoubtedly reveal more about the show than the Emmy voters ever could, but eventually, the Emmys of 2025 and beyond will do their part in shaping how “House of the Dragon” is remembered compared to its predecessor. That predecessor could afford to play the long game regarding the Emmys. Whether “House of the Dragon” has that kind of time on its side, and whether it should, is a story that will be a little clearer by this time next year.

Have you seen “House of the Dragon” yet? If so, what do you think of the season two premiere? Do you think it will ever win the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series like “Game Of Thrones” did? Please let us know in the comments section below or on Next Best Picture’s Twitter account.

You can follow Robert and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars & Film on Twitter at @Robertdoc1984

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