The 2016 Emmy Awards nominees were announced on Thursday, July 14, and to nobody's surprise, Game of Thrones is all over the short list. The HBO series led the pack with 23 nominations, the most of any show, and the tally includes acting considerations for stars Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister).
Thanks to incredible performances, huge revelations and satisfying resolutions, Game of Thrones should be scoring a Wun Wun–sized string of wins when the Emmys ceremony airs September 18. And if you tuned in for Thrones' buzzy season 6, you know the show is perfectly poised to repeat its 2015 win for the big prize: best drama series. Here's why that would be well deserved. (Also nominated in the category are The Americans, Better Call Saul, Downton Abbey, Homeland, House of Cards and Mr. Robot.)
A Great Season for Girl Power
At a time when audiences are craving strong, female-driven story lines, Game of Thrones' sixth season delivered big. From Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) finally coming into her own as a leader — not to mention getting some long-awaited vengeance on her tormentor, Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) — to the fiery play for power by Daenerys over the Dothraki to Arya reclaiming her identity to Cersei unleashing some coolly calculated hell in the season finale, Westeros has become a place dominated by powerful women — and awesome drama.
From the surprise returns of the Hound (Rory McCann) and Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle) to the huge revelation of Jon's true parentage to the introduction of the greatest kid leader ever in Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey), there were countless moments that made this season seriously satisfying to watch. Not to mention that after years of ominous warnings about the coming Westerosian winter, this was the one in which the chilly season finally, actually came.
Writers Off the Leash
For the first time since making its debut in 2011, Game of Thrones almost completely outpaced its source material with season 6 — which gave the show's writers a chance to really strut their stuff. Without the constraints of having to stay faithful to George R.R. Martin's prewritten plotlines and scenes, the pacing and dialogue was better than it's ever been.
No Bad Episodes — and One Serious Standout
In addition to having virtually no weak spots in its entire 10-episode run, the season featured one of the most intense hours of television in recent memory. "Battle of the Bastards" was a perfectly choreographed, climactic thing of beauty from start to finish — and Emmy-worthy on its own.
And of Course: HODOR
On the subject of best drama — not to mention worst heartbreak — can we just talk about Hodor again? Alas, Kristian Nairn won't be winning his own Emmy for his work on Game of Thrones (even though he totally deserves one. Who else could imbue one word with so many different emotions over the course of six years?). But his final act of heroism was damn good television that deserves some recognition. Give those showrunners an Emmy! And showrunners, when you're leaving at the end of the night, make sure to (sob) hold the door.
Tell Us: Should Game of Thrones prevail for best drama series, or are you rooting for another show?
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