The question that’s going to define the future of television is a simple one: Quality or quantity? Last year, Netflix’s throw-shows-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks business model led to a major Emmy Awards triumph when the streaming service landed more nominations than its rival HBO for the first time. For the previous 17 years, HBO had dominated the Emmy landscape unchallenged, and today the premium-cable network reclaimed its crown, scoring an astonishing 137 Emmy nominations to Netflix’s 117. The final season of Game of Thrones, HBO’s ratings juggernaut, received 32 nominations all on its own, a new record for any TV series.
While the dragons-and-decapitation drama is the shiniest sword in HBO’s Iron Throne (and its loss will be felt), what was notable was how many different HBO products were recognized in the major categories. There was Chernobyl, Craig Mazin’s astonishingly detailed miniseries about nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union, getting 19 nominations. Barry, Bill Hader and Alec Berg’s bleak comedy about a disaffected hitman with Hollywood ambitions, was next up on HBO’s slate, with 17. True Detective and Veep—the noirish crime drama and the long-running Washington, D.C., satire starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, respectively—each scored nine nominations. Deadwood, the movie follow-up to David Milch’s Western drama, and Sharp Objects, Marti Noxon and Jean-Marc Vallée’s Gothic murder-mystery, each got eight. HBO commanded the category for Outstanding Television Movie, with nominations for Deadwood, Brexit, and My Dinner With Hervé. It also led in documentaries, scooping up nods for The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, Jane Fonda in Five Acts, and Leaving Neverland.