Geeks ruled tonight at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards as genre television dominated the drama categories with wins for sci-fi thrillers Orphan Black and Mr. Robot, and especially for HBO”s fantasy juggernaut Game of Thrones.
Judged strictly in terms of the genre grouping, Orphan Black picked up what might be the most significant such win, with star Tatiana Maslany landing Outstanding Lead Actress for the 11 separate characters she has portrayed over the BBC America show’s run. The win came in only her second nomination, an accomplishment that feels even more significant thanks to the loud outcry two years ago from fans who blasted what they saw as a serious snub when Maslany wasn’t nominated at all.
USA’s Mr. Robot, meanwhile, took home Oustanding Lead Actor for star Rami Malek. And as for Game of Thrones, HBO’s flagship series landed Emmys for Outstanding Writing for showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss; Outstanding Directing for Miguel Sapochnik’s amazing work on the episode “Battle of the Bastards”; and the top prize of the evening, Outstanding Drama Series, for a second consecutive year.
Over the long history of the Emmys, science fiction and fantasy fare typically has not fared as well as more traditional narratives in the main drama categories. There are exceptions, of course — Lost is a recent example — and genre shows usually clean up in the creative arts categories. But overall, it’s been slim pickings for nerd stuff.
Is it a sea change? Probably not. Tastes change quickly in television, and it should be noted that neither of the supporting actor Emmys went to genre shows. More important, next year the drama category is going to be a whole lot more competitive thanks to the fact that Game of Thrones won’t be eligible for consideration due to a later-than-normal start date. In other words, if you’re curious whether this is the beginning of a trend, you might check back in 2018.