Starting today, I will be doing an episode by episode look at Game of Thrones, in an attempt to catch up with the past seasons of content before the start of the next season this spring. I have enough knowledge of the show and the setting that I feel this introduction is relevant to the discussion.
Let me start with my history with the show.
I first heard of Game of Thrones when a ridiculous number of people were all talking about it online at the same time. While this might draw some people to a franchise, to me this gives reason to avoid it. Whenever something overwhelms pop culture before I have the opportunity to even form a thought at it, it harkens back to experiences of such things as the boy bands and Spice Girls that had me convinced for years that I simply hated music, until I was eventually introduced to something that didn’t play on the radio non-stop that I actually enjoyed. While some of my friends see this gut instinct as hipster gibberish, I see it as pragmatism: More often than not, I need to dig in niche markets to find something I am going to enjoy, so when something goes mainstream very widely and very quickly, it only makes sense to avoid it. While the mainstream and I have come a little closer to one another over the years, this is still my first instinct.
I have some bias against adaptations as it is. Not that I refuse to watch them – I am a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (even if it’s often more the ambition than the actual movies that I love) and a number of other adapted properties. Still, while I can usually enjoy the adaptation, it’s often when I love the original. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Dracula all fit this pattern, and comic book films almost never manage to capture the magic I feel when reading their original medium. This is particularly true when there are heavy changes, as I have been warned is the case with Game of Thrones.
My final point of contention before starting the show is that the vast majority of what I have heard about it is sensationalist bullcrap. I’ve heard over and over how much random sex and nudity are added to the show. This would have appealed to me at 17, but at 27 it only inspires me to ask “did they have nothing else?” This on its own might not mean much, but the show’s reputation is that it buys into putting as much rape on the screen as possible in order to keep the viewers’ attention. I’ve already seen one site that I tend to (but don’t necessarily always) agree with indicating that they refuse to partake in any action that promotes the show because of how much the creators seem to delight in devising additional rapes to put on screen in order to draw more attention.
Before you think that I’m all negative about this, keep in mind that I wouldn’t be going through all of this effort if I assumed the show would suck. While A Game of Thrones was no Fellowship of the Ring, as the books bore on they drew me in and I am eagerly awaiting the sixth and allegedly final entry in the series – the thing that finally got me to watch the show that is for the first time going to surpass its inspiration. Particularly of interest to me is the characters. While I care little for the likes of such common characters as the Baratheons, Robb and Catelyn Stark, and Tywin Lannister, such characters as the brilliant but despised black sheep, the girl who just wishes she could be treated the same as her brother, and the young queen who wants only to advance such causes as “the state shouldn’t sponsor raping people” can’t help but to draw my attention.
With all of this in mind, I begin my look at Game of Thrones: Season One. If I enjoy it a sizable fraction of the amount that I do the novels, it won’t be a waste of time. Let’s begin the journey; after all, winter is coming.