Art credit: Rana Tahir; pencil sketch & photoshop.
Oh, Game of Thrones
Someone who understands trends better might be able to explain why all of a sudden people are thinking and talking about Game of Thrones again.
Don’t get me wrong, I never tire of deep-diving into the wreck that the series became, but I thought we were at the point of keeping those thoughts to ourselves. In any case, people I follow have mentioned it, and friends have been sharing their thoughts too. It’s like now that 2020 is close to ending, we’ve escaped the time capsule and are returning to the petty concerns of 2019. The good ol’days, amirite?
Well, to whoever or whatever is making this come back into our consciousness: thank you! I have been waiting to say:
Remember when Game of Thrones was a thing?
I can’t help but miss the anticipation of a new episode every Sunday, the fandom debates about different, compelling theories, the moments we all lost our shit at those plot twists. I miss feeling connected to a larger audience—something even more striking in the isolating days of 2020.
It’s actually hard to remember those good moments because now, like many other fans of the show, the memory of how it all went to crap is too recent. After having that show be a huge part of my leisure time, it’s amazing how I almost never think about it now. And when I do think about it, I just feel disappointment.
In hindsight, it is easy to imagine that under other circumstances, GoT would have failed early on. In many ways D&D lucked out by having compelling source material to draw from, the right backers, a superb cast, and a stellar crew (from costuming to set design to music, etc.). Those aspects of the show really shielded D&D’s lack of (dare I say it?) skill.
I think no one who has read the books were surprised when the show started to turn for the worst by the end of season 4. Many if not all of the memorable lines and moments in the entire series were lifted directly, verbatim from the books. The luck of having HBO pour ridiculous amounts of money into the show so they could afford the best of the best in terms of talent, kept the faultier parts of seasons 4 and 5 mostly afloat. My theory (which is a common one) is that when D&D no longer had GRRM’s words to stand on and we got to see their writing in action, the cracks that were hidden before became chasms for all of us to fall into. And… well. We know what happens.
I don’t want to say that everything D&D did was wrong. Ros was a compelling character, and I loved the changes with Shae (although her turn ended up making little sense in the show compared to the books). Also, I do think combining Sansa’s story with that of Jeyne Poole in the books was a smart move to simplify things and give her more air time. I think that by the end the bad outweighed the good in terms of decision making, and certain things were just nonsensical. (She just forgot about the Iron Fleet? Really?)
At a certain point watching the show just became a chore, going along the lines of “I invested this much time, I might as well see it to the end.” In all honesty, I think I could and would have forgiven all of the miscalculations of seasons 5-8 if they had stuck the landing at the end. Ultimately there was no pay off. It felt like terrible fan fiction where all the main characters team up for an epic showdown despite the fact that they all hate each other and despite the fact that previous seasons had shown how precarious any alliance is (RIP Young Wolf). I really don’t understand why they decided to end the show this way, and I don’t think it will ever make sense.
At the time, D&D seemed to equate their ending with something like The Sopranos, which has been relatively vindicated over time. I really don’t see that happening for GoT. With The Sopranos, you could argue that the ambush at the end and the fate of the family fit the central themes of cycles of violence and power. It’s the mob culture they have been immersed, active, and trapped in which gets them in the end.
What does the ending of GoT give us? We could argue that the theme is the wheel goes on and on and on and nothing really changes. But its not a large, partriarchal system that brings big, bad Daenerys to her end, its… Mr. Muh Queeeen. Only after the fact do the same houses decide the fate of Westeros, which ends exactly as it began: an unqualified ruler who is uninterested in governing leaves big decisions to a council filled with people who shouldn’t have those positions (seriously, why is Bronn there?). So the wheel hasn’t reasserted itself in any meaningful way, really—much like the show itself—they just got lucky.
So after all those seasons of politicking, alliances, betrayals, ladders, walls, and wheels, we get… nothing.
Quite literally, we got nothing. So what more is there to say? What are we really left with to talk about or remember other than:
Hey, remember when Game of Thrones was a thing?
Mood: Deep Dive/Obsessive
Currently listening to: Game of Thrones Theme & the “ahhh” sound from HBO