6 reasons 'Game of Thrones' deserved that best-drama Emmy

Commentary: The most beloved characters are never safe, plots are completely unpredictable, and darnit, we can't stop watching. Some say the show's overhyped, but not if it lives up to the buzz.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
3 min read
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If Queen Cersei has a trophy case, she'd better get The Mountain to build her a bigger one to hold all the "Game of Thrones" Emmy Awards.


Warning: "Game of Thrones" spoilers ahead.

Somewhere in Westeros, Queen Cersei is slugging back a huge goblet of Arbor Gold. And it's well-deserved. "Game of Thrones" picked up the best-drama Emmy Award for the second straight year on Sunday, and the dragon-powered HBO hit won't even let a lack of new books slow it down.

"Game of Thrones" also picked up writing and directing honors and has now won more Emmys than any other prime-time TV show. When the show tweeted news of its win, the first person to respond had two words: "overrated show."

Here are six reasons we disagree.

1. No one is ever safe.
From the moment loyal dad Ned Stark bought the farm, "Thrones" watchers were put on alert: Don't get attached to anyone. They could bite it at any time.

Loved Syrio Forel, Arya's charming and courageous "dancing master"? Fond of Hodor, Bran's defender and giant-size Baby Bjorn? Had high hopes for the Young Wolf, Robb Stark and his devoted mother Catelyn? Yeah, sad to say, you bet on the wrong direwolf. But the fact that even the most beloved stars can see their contract axed with little warning makes the show a thrill ride not to be missed.

2. Eventually, fan faith is rewarded.
Well, sometimes. Not always. Margaery never did get to rule, despite her slow and fascinating climb through marriages to multiple kings. But there've been enough times when a plot point fans longed for actually did come to satisfying fruition. We're looking at you, purple-faced choking Joffrey. And especially you, doggone Ramsay. And even Sam getting to live his dream in the maesters' library. Sure, that life in Westeros can be a horrible slog, but the occasional payoff is like winning the lottery.

3. Tyrion, Tyrion, Tyrion.
From the well-deserved punch he gave Joffrey to the tender spot in his heart for "cripples, bastards and broken things" to his longing for a god of "tits and wine," Tyrion is the most beloved and quotable character. But he's no saint -- in "Thrones," even the good guys have to be bad to survive. Still, dad Tywin really deserved that arrow in the bowels.

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Dany and Drogo gave Viserys a golden crown, and now the show has 38 gold statuettes. Fair trade.


4. Hey, you didn't see that coming.
Wait, what? That's Arya under the mask, and Walder Frey's "damn moron sons" in the pie? Jon Snow's not dead after all? Cersei's blowing up the Sept of Baelor? Tommen's giving his mother the slip, forever? They're going to bring Rickon Stark back, and then just as quickly take him out? There are enough OMG or WTF moments to keep this show a trending Twitter topic on a weekly basis.

5. Forgot about that family? The show didn't.
Those who've read George R.R. Martin's books know he somehow juggles dozens of families, and seems to know all their histories going back generations. Sure, the Lannisters and Starks get more than their share of time, but the Martells, the Tarleys, the Freys, the Tarths -- they all have histories that twine around each other like sand snakes, and when you least expect them to matter, they matter.

6. Who knows what's next?
So now we've got Tyrion and Dany heading toward destiny with her dragons, Jon Snow's true parentage revealed, Cersei sitting uneasily on the Iron Throne, and Arya crossing names off her death list like they were school supplies and Target was having a sale. And since there hasn't been a new book out since 2011, even devoted readers have no idea what's coming next. Or do we?

Is Khal Drogo returning? Is Gendry? Is Syrio? Is Jessica Fletcher stopping by? Is Tyrion going to wake up in bed next to Suzanne Pleshette? We have no idea (see No. 4), and that'll keep us watching, Emmys or no.