Fantasy epic Game of Thrones made television history at the 68th Emmys on Sunday, becoming the most decorated fictional show since the awards began nearly seven decades ago. The HBO series picked up 12 Emmys, television’s equivalent of the Oscars: nine awards in technical categories and three top prizes at the glitzy ceremony in Los Angeles.
The blood-spattered, sex-filled saga about noble families vying for control of the Iron Throne took home the most coveted prize of the night, the best drama Emmy, along with statuettes for writing and directing. That gives it a total haul over the years of 38, overtaking the record of 37 won by long-running comedy Frasier.
It went down to the wire in the end, as Thrones drew a blank in the acting categories, despite being a hot favourite and having multiple nominees, and only set the record with the last prize of the night.
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story also glittered, picking up a total of nine awards this season, including the prize for best limited series.
The all-time Emmy list of winners — which includes nonfiction — is topped by NBC comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live , with 45 awards, one of them handed out on Sunday to Kate McKinnon for best supporting actress.
In the best actress in a comedy category, Julia Louis-Dreyfus won a fifth consecutive Emmy for her role as the hapless acting president on HBO’s Veep .
The award for best actor in a comedy went for the second year in a row to Jeffrey Tambor for Transparent , who pleaded with producers and directors to give transgender talent a chance in television. In the tightest race of the night, lead actress in a drama, Tatiana Maslany won for cult sci-fi favourite Orphan Black , besting favourite Robin Wright ( House of Cards ) and last year’s victor Viola Davis ( How to Get Away with Murder ).
House of Cards star Kevin Spacey, a double Oscar winner who has never won an Emmy, missed out again for best actor in a drama, a prize which went to Rami Malek, the star of cyberspace security thriller Mr. Robot . Ex-presidential hopeful Jeb Bush made a surprise appearance as a limo driver in a televised opening joke sequence, asking host Jimmy Kimmel what it’s like to be nominated.