The eighth and final season of the HBO drama was full of flaws. "Yet," says Matt Zoller Seitz, "I still think Game of Thrones deserved its big win this year — perhaps more so than for any year of its run since season four, arguably its creative peak, when it became impossible to dismiss as merely a sword-and-sorcery potboiler with a great cast, R-rated content, and a huge budget. What other TV drama, or series, period, loomed larger? None. To understand why means first accepting that the Emmys haven’t given awards to the 'best' dramas and 'best' comedies since 1960. That was the year when the categories were reworked around the word “outstanding,” which can be interpreted as providing voters with more wiggle room. The award is not for the best comedy or drama, it’s for the show that stands out the most. If you look back over the Outstanding Drama winners during the past six decades, there are plenty of repeats that one could quibble with in terms of overall quality, compared to other series that might’ve had better seasons during that eligibility year. But there aren’t too many instances where you could claim that the winner didn’t loom largest in the culture among all the nominated programs that year....It’s not a popularity contest — not exactly. But there is an element of buzz, of pop-cultural electricity, to the exercise. The Outstanding Drama is not just a good or great series, though ideally it ought to be. It’s the one you can’t ignore even if you want to. It’s the show that defines what the medium is, or was, or is about to become."