Last year, at the 2015 Emmys, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss won the award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for their work on Game of Thrones. Onstage, Benioff took his turn to speak. Then Weiss took his turn to speak. Then Benioff took his turn to speak, again. And then a strange thing happened.
David Benioff thanked Amanda Peet.
OK, I guess it wasn’t that strange. I mean — they are married. “So what,” you’re thinking. “David Benioff won an Emmy — and then he thanked his wife? Who cares?” Yes, true, but: Amanda Peet? Why Peet? Why not just, you know, Amanda? It made no sense. Don’t get me wrong: I loved it. It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. But it made no sense.
And then on Sunday night — almost exactly one year after the events of 2015 unfolded — another strange thing happened, this one even stranger than the one before: Game of Thrones won the Emmys for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Drama Series … and Benioff and Weiss got up onstage for their acceptance speeches … and Benioff took his turn to speak … and he did it again.
We’re reopening the case. Why does David Benioff call Amanda Peet “Amanda Peet”? Here are four working theories:
4. David Benioff Is an Amanda Peet Fan.
An obvious answer that checks out on all fronts. Here are the movies that Amanda Peet had starred in by the time she married David Benioff in 2006: The Whole Nine Yards (Nominated: Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Liar); Changing Lanes; Igby Goes Down; Something’s Gotta Give; The Whole Ten Yards (sequel to the blockbuster The Whole Nine Yards); A Lot Like Love (Nominated: Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress — Comedy); and Syriana. As far as TV goes: Peet had already done two seasons on the middle-tier WB dramedy Jack & Jill (playing the titular Jack — don’t worry about it, it’s a whole thing), and was about to star in her highest-profile role to date: as Jordan McDeere, on Aaron Sorkin’s radical “what if we made a show about sketch-comedy with no jokes” proto-prestige experiment Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. If you were alive in 2006, then you were an Amanda Peet fan.
And if you met Amanda Peet prior to 2006, and started dating her, and were talking about dating her to your friends — well, you wouldn’t say, “I’ve started to date this wonderful woman named Amanda.” No. You would say, “I’ve started to date Amanda Peet.” You would be starstruck, and act accordingly. That is what this theory posits: David Benioff started out referring to Amanda Peet as “Amanda Peet,” and never stopped, and — when it came time to accept his Emmy Award, years later, and to thank her — it simply didn’t occur to him to address her as anything else. Benioff’s Peet fandom precedes his Peet husband-om … and his semantics simply bear out that timeline. Also: Who doesn’t like Amanda Peet? This is an extremely plausible theory.
3. “Amanda Peet” Is a ‘Manchurian Candidate’–Style Activation Phrase.
When David Benioff said the phrase “Amanda Peet” at the Emmys in 2015, he activated a covert government military action, probably Black Ops, possibly extraterrestrial. Initiating at the 2015 Emmy Awards was the easiest way to slip the activation phrase through undetected, as Game of Thrones’ writing had been really strong the season prior, and Benioff and Weiss were considered pretty much a lock. Also, no one watches the Grammys. When Benioff said the phrase “Amanda Peet” at the Emmys in 2016, this was a standard deactivation procedure of the preceding covert action. Amanda Peet’s presence was simply a pretext for the initiation of the deactivation phrase, and insurance that it would go undetected.
What, exactly, did saying “Amanda Peet” trigger? Easy: [REDACTED] on the other side of [REDACTED] until [REDACTED] [REDACTED].
2. “Amanda Peet” Is a Distinction of Medium.
This is the least dramatic theory, without a doubt, but it is also the only theory that accounts for an important piece of evidence: In the dedication to Benioff’s “wild, action-packed” (I Googled it) 2008 novel City of Thieves, Benioff refers to Peet as “Amanda” — no last name. Is it possible that Benioff has one name (“Amanda Peet”) that he calls Peet when they’re in the realm of movies and television, and another name (“Amanda”) that he calls her when they’re in the realm of World War II historical fiction? Yes — I think so. In fact, it makes a lot of sense: Imagine opening up a novel, and flipping through the dedication, and seeing “For Amanda Peet.” “What the fuck?” you’d think. And then you would put down the book, and then start Googling “David Benioff + Amanda Peet,” and then realize that Hollywood gossip is a lot more interesting than World War II historical fiction, and then never touch the book again until, years later, when you couldn’t find your laptop and wanted to go online to read Hollywood gossip, you picked up the book, and put a lighter to it, and burned the book to start a flame to find your laptop to go online to read about things like David Benioff being married to Amanda Peet. This is a high-integrity theory.
1. Amanda Peet Deserves It.
This is the theory I like the best, and — barring new evidence and/or more Emmys for Game of Thrones — the answer I’m going with right now. After some reflection, I’ve decided that “Amanda Peet” is David Benioff’s attempt to recognize Amanda Peet as an independent and successful woman. Because — think about how often we see a headline about an extremely accomplished woman that reduces that woman to being “so and so’s wife.” Like: so often. It happens constantly.
But here is David Benioff, a man in a male-dominated industry, winning his Emmys for Game of Thrones, and — when it comes time to give thanks — realizing that the world, even in this moment of glory, does not revolve around him. Realizing that yeah, he has a wife — but she is not “David Benioff’s wife.” She is not — or at least not just — Amanda. She has done things. She has achieved her own greatness. She is the only reason in the world that The Whole Nine Yards worked. She should have been nominated for an Oscar for Igby Goes Down. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip HAD NO JOKES, HONESTLY, PLEASE TELL ME, WHAT DID THEY THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. And they never should have canceled Togetherness. She is Amanda Fucking Peet — and I think this is David Benioff drawing a line in the sand and declaring that she never, ever shouldn’t be recognized as such.
Official theory for why David Benioff calls Amanda Peet “Amanda Peet”: true love. Case closed.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.