Golden Globe nominations were announced Monday and the drama series race features the expected newbie, The Handmaid's Tale, and four familiar faces, defending champ The Crown, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things and This Is Us. Four of those five shows also netted at least one acting nomination, and the one that didn't is probably the last one you'd expect: Game of Thrones.
While Game of Thrones has been an Emmy juggernaut the past few years, becoming the most awarded prime-time series ever with 38 wins, thanks in part to the new voting system, Golden Globe success has been much harder to come by. Since its 2011 premiere, Game of Thrones has only received seven Globe nominations and one win, for Peter Dinklage for the first season. It hasn't even been nominated for drama series every eligible season, missing for its second and third installments. Dinklage hasn't been nominated since he won and the show only received its second acting nod last year, in supporting actress for Lena Headey. This year, HBO strategically submitted Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington in lead -- the whole cast used to submit in supporting -- to amplify its chances, only to walk away with zero acting nods and one nod total, for drama series.
Fans have embraced Game of Thrones. The Emmys have embraced it. So why won't the Golden Globes?
The simplest answer is that it's just not the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's cup of tea. The HFPA, which is comprised of about 90 members, is a mysterious bunch of journalists, but one with a very specific, peculiar taste and one that marches to the beat of its own drum. Globe voters like what they like and make no apologies for it (insert obligatory mention of Mozart in the Jungle here). They love TV shows like how they like their stars: prestigious and glamorous. They go for glossy, cool, high-brow, or what they consider to be high-brow, fare with buzz. Sometimes that correlates with the Emmys (see: Mad Men, The West Wing) and other times they've given us, for better or worse, noteworthy series winners that the Emmys have overlooked (see: Mr. Robot, Nip/Tuck).
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And yes, of course Game of Thrones has buzz! And it's cool! But it's also a large-scale fantasy epic with dragons and meandering threads that you could picture the HFPA having trouble getting into. It doesn't scream "polished" like other Globe favorites. The bias against sci-fi/fantasy isn't exclusive to the Globes -- Game of Thrones was the first of its genre to win the top prize at the Emmys -- despite celebrated epics like Battlestar Galatica and Star Trek being at the forefront of game-changing television for decades. Often relegated to technical wins like VFX, sci-fi and fantasy has usually been the bridesmaid (never the bride) during award show season. Specifically at the Globes, Game of Thrones' nominations, and that win for Dinklage, are more out of obligation than passion. They know the rest of the world, and the Emmys, like it, and they don't want to look stupid by not throwing it a bone here or there, hence, the series nod. It's like a, "Fine, we'll nominate you, BUT THAT'S IT!" And they probably feel like they "took care of" the show already with the win for Dinklage.
Game of Thrones is certainly not the first nor will it be the last show the HFPA has been strong-armed into nominating. The Globes were never fans of Breaking Bad and its gritty, dark tone. Bryan Cranston didn't get a nomination until after his third straight Emmy win, and the show didn't break into the series lineup until its penultimate run. The show and Cranston won in the show's last year of eligibility, while Aaron Paul scored his first nod. By that point, Breaking Bad, a little engine that could, had become Too Big to Ignore, and the HFPA was basically forced to award them. That extra nod for Paul was a signal that, yeah, they're finally ready to do this and get it over with.
Similarly, the Globes are not into Veep and its biting satire. The three-time reigning comedy series Emmy champ only made the comedy series cut at the Globes for the first time two years ago after it won its first Emmy. And the Globe is the only major award that's missing from Julia Louis-Dreyfus' trophy case for Veep. Both she and the show were dropped this year, and the HFPA might be fine with never awarding them since Veep, while great, has never reached the zeitgeist-level heights of Breaking Bad.
Like Veep, the other thing working against a series win for Game of Thrones is the fact that they're just old. The HFPA is all about endorsing newbies, so even if you have heat on you, if you're not a freshman show, you're already at a disadvantage. That doesn't mean older shows can't win -- you can if the Globes really, really like you. Sex and the City won the third of its three comedy series wins for its fourth season, and in the older days, All in the Family won for its seventh-going-into-eighth season, while M*A*S*H won for its ninth-going-into-10th season.
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But on the drama side, only Mannix, The X-Files and Breaking Bad have won for their fifth seasons. No drama has won for a season past five; Game of Thrones, of course, is nominated this year for its seventh season. The sweet spot for series wins is in the first three seasons, so Game of Thrones pretty much missed the boat.
That's another way to say, "Don't bet on Game of Thrones next month." But all hope is not lost. The show has one more season left, and it can still pull a Breaking Bad and guilt-trip the HFPA into awarding it drama series once. Would the Golden Globes really snub one of the most popular, most successful shows in the world? The HFPA can't have that much egg on its face. They've often played catch-up with the Emmys before and this would be the longest catch-up of all. But Game of Thrones' final season also isn't airing until 2019, long enough for the Globes to move onto a whole bunch of hot new things.
Even if Game of Thrones never wins a drama series Globe, it can take solace in the fact that it has one win under its belt. Not counting its two nods for the revival, even giants like Will & Grace went a dubious 0-27 during its original run. And are dragons really more enticing than Karen Walker's latest gaffe? According to HFPA, nah.
The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards airs Sunday, Jan. 7 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC.