When perusing the 2017 Emmy nominations in anticipation of the awards show airing on Sept. 17, you may have been struck with sudden horror by the realization that your beloved Game Of Thrones is missing from the lineup. Even with Season 7 being a bit polarizing, with some debating the storytelling was not as high-quality as it had been in previous seasons, it's still one of the strongest television shows around and surely, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences would recognize the HBO fantasy series. The special effects alone should get a nomination! But the lack of Emmy nominations only has to do with one thing: Timing. Because of the delay between Seasons 6 and 7, Game Of Thrones wasn't eligible for the 2017 Emmys. And while this may be disappointing to fans of the TV series, Game Of Thrones not being nominated for any Emmys is actually a great thing for the awards show.
Unlike the Academy Awards, which has a fresh set of movies to honor each year, the Emmys often go through cycles of awarding the same TV shows year after year. That makes sense because of the ongoing nature of TV series, but it also can get a bit stale when it comes to Emmy night. With so many repeat nominees and winners, faithful Emmy viewers may have found themselves groaning when Modern Family won its fifth consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. And even though it is so completely deserved for her portrayal of Selina Meyer on Veep, Julia Louis-Dreyfus dominating the Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category for six years — possibly seven, depending on the 2017 winner — brings a certain sense of predictability to the awards show. (Though, to be fair, her antics at the Emmys always make it worth it.)
Yet, even with Game Of Thrones being nominated for 106 Emmys and winning 38 times, it actually isn't such a dominating force as you might expect. With its large ensemble, Peter Dinklage is the only actor who has consistently been nominated over the years for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role of Tyrion Lannister. As for the actresses, Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke typically alternate years getting nominations, but 2016 was particularly tough with Headey, Clarke, and Maisie Williams all being nominated for Supporting Actress — and all losing to Downton Abbey's Maggie Smith.
The acting awards may never be guaranteed for the cast, but Game Of Thrones has won Outstanding Drama Series back-to-back years for its fifth and sixth seasons (thanks to Breaking Bad being over). So this is the category that really benefits from Game Of Thrones not being in the mix since other drama series are able to be recognized. Better Call Saul, The Crown, The Handmaid's Tale, House Of Cards, Stranger Things, This Is Us, and Westworld all have a better chance at winning than they would have if Game Of Thrones was included. And with five out of the seven nominees being in their first seasons, it gives the Emmys an opportunity to award a show that's new to the scene for a refreshing change of pace.
The absence of a critically-acclaimed show due to it not meeting the eligibility requirements isn't new to the Emmys, with one notable example being when Breaking Bad wasn't nominated in 2011 because of the same calendar issues that Game Of Thrones is facing. But there's no need to feel bad when this happens since those seasons that don't fit into the Emmys schedule still get the recognition they deserve by being nominated the next year. So Game Of Thrones Season 7 will undoubtedly still be recognized by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences — it just won't be until 2018. The Emmys already has taken advantage of Game Of Thrones' absence by shaking things up a bit in the Outstanding Drama Series category and can continue to make the most of it by giving viewers a more surprising Emmys night — at least when it comes to the drama categories.