Months after its uneven final season wrapped, “Game of Thrones” could deliver one final, shocking twist for viewers: a 2019 Emmys sweep.
The fantasy’s juggernaut eighth installment — which wrapped with nearly 20 million viewers in May — is nominated for a record-breaking 32 trophies. “GoT” already nabbed 10 at the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend — and the 71st annual Emmy Awards ceremony airs at 8 p.m. Sunday on Fox.
Now, while it’s true that the show once delighted audiences with its complex morality and shocking plot turns, viewers widely agree that it fell flat in its last season. Almost 2 million disgruntled fans petitioned creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for a redo. Critics panned the final six-episode arc as well.
It’s confusing that “GoT” is dominating the ceremony — but it’s not exactly unprecedented. Here are five other lackluster shows and performances that nonetheless went on to win Emmy gold.
HBO’s “The Newsroom,” which aired from 2012 to 2014, was also widely panned, with Time magazine dismissing it as “sanctimonious,” the New York Times warning that it was “filled with sermonizing” and the Twitterati meme-ifying and mocking showrunner Aaron Sorkin’s writing.
But even though viewers found the conflicts silly and the dialogue clunky, the media drama still came through for the win. It snagged multiple Emmy nods, including a statue for star Jeff Daniels in 2013.
“Mike & Molly”
This CBS sitcom, which ran from 2010 to 2016, was never critically eviscerated — but it wasn’t exactly adored, either. Melissa McCarthy — now a comedic powerhouse — barely got to show off her chops in the role of Molly Flynn, a cheerful fourth-grade teacher struggling to lose weight.
But she did win an Emmy in 2011 for her performance in the otherwise tepid, run-of-the-mill sitcom. Her victory was even more surprising given the stacked category: Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”), Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”), Tina Fey (“30 Rock”) and Laura Linney (“The Big C”) were all up for the award. Considering the lineup, McCarthy was a head-scratcher of a pick.
“Everybody Loves Raymond”
While “Raymond” was a primetime anchor, it was never universally beloved, and it hasn’t had the enduring shelf life of other long-running sitcoms, such as “Friends” and “The Office.” Even so, Ray Romano won the Best Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy in 2002, beating out the likes of Kelsey Grammer (“Fraiser”), Bernie Mac (“The Bernie Mac Show”) and Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc (“Friends”). Plus, co-star Doris Roberts racked up seven Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy noms — and four wins.
The ABC medical drama remains a television mainstay, with a whopping 16 seasons and counting. It’s won several well-deserved Emmys since its 2005 debut — and one controversial one.
In 2007, “Grey’s” star Katherine Heigl took home Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. This was a contentious choice among viewers — her character Izzie remains unpopular — and it was even more bizarre considering the heavyweight competition, which included two “Sopranos” actresses (Lorraine Bracco and Aida Turturro) as well as two more crowd-pleasing “Grey’s Anatomy” options: Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson. Heigl left the show three years later.
Admittedly, the ABC drama, which ran from 2004 to 2008, was entertaining. But in 2005, it got a baffling Emmy win for William Shatner, who essentially played a heightened version of himself on the show. An award for this kind of easy performance would make sense in the 1970s and ’80s, when it was still novel. But this was not the case in 2005, especially when he was up against small-screen stars such as Alan Alda (“The West Wing”), Naveen Andrews (“Lost”), Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”) and Oliver Platt (“Huff”).