We’re well into December of 2016, and publications are announcing their best-of-the-year lists for TV. Game of Thrones Season 6 nabbed spots on many. Here’s a sampling:
TV Line gave Game of Thrones Season 6 the Number One spot on its list of 10 Best Dramas.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss continue to shift the key players of Westeros around like chess pieces, but it’s the women who made the boldest moves this year, from the swashbuckling Arya to a newly assertive Sansa to the Mother of Dragons herself, Daenerys Targaryen, burning her enemies alive and setting sail for the ultimate battle to come.
It’s at the top of Empire‘s list as well.
In such an eventful ten hours, it’s hard to pick a highlight: the Hodor reveal was heartbreakingly constructed; the finale had more deaths than a Riverlands wedding reception; the Battle of the Bastards rivals any cinematic battle; and frankly the whole thing boasts such rich attention-to-detail, such clever long-game plotting and such richly textured characters that very little recently seen on the big or small screen even comes close.
It’s Digital Spy‘s #2 show of the year, losing out only to the BBC’s The Night Manager.
The epic, brutal Battle of the Bastards was, of course, a highlight – but rather than falling into its old habit of following a huge penultimate episode with a slightly limp finale, GoT then upped its game even further with a climax that was quite literally explosive. Oh, the cruel irony that we now have to endure the show’s longest hiatus yet…
It’s on The Telegraph‘s list at #2 as well, ironically beaten only by the second series of The Hollow Crown, which is the Shakespearean version of the historical events of The War of the Roses, on which George R.R. Martin originally based the story of A Song of Ice and Fire.
Returning for a wildly anticipated sixth season, Game of Thrones has not disappointed in 2016. As the leading families of the Seven Kingdoms continue to struggle for power, religious fanaticism begins to take hold in Westeros.
Rolling Stone‘s put the season at #7 on its list of 20 Best TV Shows of 2016.
Now that the TV version has lapped George R. R. Martin’s books, it’s hitting new heights – the Battle of the Bastards was its most spine-chilling, blood-gushing pageant yet. Danyaerys (sic) gets back in touch with her unchained inner dragon. Arya steps out of the House of Black and White a deadlier warrior than ever. And after everything Sansa Stark has suffered, she finally gets a chance to serve some hungry dogs a well-deserved dinner. Bon appetit.
And The Guardian put Season 6 at #21 on its huge 50-TV show list.
The sixth season was essentially more of the same – that is to say, the single greatest televised fantasy-drama in history. But many of the sedentary subplots burst into life here, and the Battle of the Bastards bloodbath became a record-breaking hour of TV.
Paste, meanwhile, took a slightly different tack did a list of the 25 best episodes from the year. “Battle of the Bastards” was #2, losing out only to BoJack Horseman’s “Fish Out of Water.”
600 crew members. 500 extras. 70 horses. 25 days of filming. God knows how many tens of millions of dollars (HBO still hasn’t said). “Battle of the Bastards,” all told, is likely the most extravagant, expensive episode of television ever made… but holy hell, it was worth it. The penultimate installment of Game of Thrones’ sixth season features the best, most engrossing on-screen battle since Helm’s Deep in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Director Miguel Sapochnik—who deserves every carat of his Emmy—eschews any semblance of the nobility that too often accompany thoughts of medieval warfare, instead giving us horrifying amounts of gore and vicarious asphyxiation as Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his Northmen get crushed between a wall of Ramsay Bolton’s (Iwan Rheon) shields and a pile of dead bodies. There are no heroes; there is only a fatalistic helplessness to which even the good bastard falls victim.
Entertainment Weekly also put “Battle of the Bastards” on their Top 10 Episodes list at #2, although this time it lost to The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story’s “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” It’s always something.
With an Emmy-winning script that excelled at intimate moments (Davos finding Shireen’s burned toy) as well as spectacle (that thundering horse charge!), “BoB” played like a master class in coherent, character-driven action storytelling, elevating director Miguel Sapochnik (who also won an Emmy for this hour) to TV’s directorial A list.
Time also had a list of 10 Best Episodes from the year. But here, “The Winds of Winter” made it on rather than “Battle of the Bastards.”
“Battle of the Bastards,” the episode that preceded this one, was the series’s most technically accomplished ever, a splashy spectacle that nothing else on TV could hope to match. But the remarkable sequence that led to the destruction of the Sept in this episode is, for me, more memorable, marrying almost-painful tension with rapid plot development. This episode’s growing sense that the gears of Game of Thrones are finally clicking into place for an endgame was crowned by a remarkable final shot.
Lena Headey’s performance as Cersei was #3 on TV Guide‘s list of best TV performances from 2016.
It was the year of the women on Game of Thrones, but no one paid quite the price for victory as badly as Cersei Lannister did. Never one to gracefully accept the limits of her gender, this season, Cersei proved exactly how far she was willing to go for a taste of real power — a move which ultimately cost Cersei the one thing she truly cared about: her final remaining child.
Sticking with acting, Indiewire listed 16 Breakthrough Performances for the Year. Bella Ramsey is on it at #3 for her scene stealing turn as Lyanna Mormont.
Ramsey perfectly captured the proud 10-year-old girl, who gamely took on a leadership position after the line of succession led to her when her kinsmen died at the Red Wedding. Ramsey gives Lyanna Mormont a strong bearing that belies her age, with just enough chutzpah and earnestness for humor that springs from incongruity.
Newsweek didn’t rank its collection of TV shows, choosing just to list out their favorites. Naturally, Game of Thrones made the cut.
The final two episodes of Thrones’s sixth run, including the Emmy-winning “Battle of the Bastards,” were of a breathtaking scale previously unseen on the small screen. The plot also advanced at rapid speed to create the HBO fantasy drama’s most satisfying, but bittersweet, season yet. Satisfying because the good guys are finally having their day, and the bad guys are getting their comeuppance. But bittersweet because that also means our adventures in Westeros are soon coming to an end.
And finally, the American Film Institute named Game of Thrones Season 6 as one of the TV Programs of the Year,. Congrats to everyone for such a spectacular showing.