Are we underestimating 'Game of Thrones' at Emmys?

This year, "Game of Thrones" is coming off of its strongest season yet, scoring 90 at Metacritic. That is up from 79 for its first season and 88 for the sophomore year of the HBO drama. The show posted its highest ratings to date and just won Best Drama Series at the Critics’ Choice TV Awards where it contended for four prizes in all.

Yet, the odds at Gold Derby have "Game of Thrones" in only third place to win Best Drama Series at the Emmys. With the support of just one expert, one editor and 10% of users, it has odds of 13 to 2 to take the top prize. Last year's champ "Homeland" and "Breaking Bad" are tied for first with odds of 27 to 10.

Are we underestimating the support for "Game of Thrones" at the Emmys? After all, it could well lead among drama series when nominations are announced next Thursday.

The first season of "Game of Thrones" racked up 13 Emmy nominations in 2011. In the history of the Emmys, the only sci-fi or fantasy show to do better was the 1997/98 season of "The X-Files" which reaped 16 bids.

Among those Emmy bids for its freshman year, "Game of Thrones" was nominated for Best Drama Series as well as for both writing and directing. "Mad Men," which won the series prize contended for writing, was snubbed in the helming race. "Game of Thrones" won two Emmys that year -- supporting drama actor (Peter Dinklage) and title design.

For its second season, "Game of Thrones" received 12 Emmy nominations, including repeat bids for the show and Dinklage. While it was snubbed for writing and direction, it did win a leading six awards at the Creative Arts ceremony -- art direction (tied with "Boardwalk Empire"), costumes, makeup, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects.

If "Game of Thrones" increases the number of Emmy nominations it receives this year, it could well win Best Drama Series. However, to pull off this upset, it must pick up a bid for either writing or directing. No drama since the turn of the century has won the top prize without a nomination for at least one of these awards.

In 2011, the show submitted only one episode for writing which focused support and resulted in a nomination. Perhaps overconfident, it entered four episodes last year but all were snubbed. This year, it has put forth only the buzzed-about Red Wedding episode. As Gold Derby editor Chris Beachum so shrewdly put it, this penultimate episode of the season “broke the Internet.” And it could well contend for directing as well.

As Dinklage is the only cast member yet to be nominated for an Emmy, a good barometer of success in the series race will be if any other actors can score bids. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Emilia Clarke were cited at the recent Critics’ Choice Awards. Lena Headey and Kit Harington have been nominated by both the genre-based Saturn Awards and the international Monte-Carlo TV Festival. And Michelle Fairley was showcased in the red wedding episode.

Gold Derby ranks Dinklage third and Coster-Waldau eighth for supporting actor, while Clarke is tenth, Fairley eleventh and Headey thirteenth for supporting actress. And Diana Rigg sits in fifth for guest actress.

Although the show was snubbed for stunt coordination last year, it did repeat for stunt ensemble at the SAG Awards in January and so could well make a comeback at the Emmys.

Surprisingly, "Game of Thrones" has yet to reap Emmy bids for its critically acclaimed cinematography, editing and music composition. Nominations in those three races could boost it to the front of the pack, especially as "Mad Men," which led last year with 17 nominations, is thought to be on the wane.


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