Have We Taken Game of Thrones For Granted?

After watching the final episode of Game of Thrones, and then strolling through my Instagram and Facebook feed, I was reminded of my 8 year old niece and 5 year old nephew.

One day they were lazily watching a simple cartoon on T.V. when I had the bright idea to dazzle them. Swiftly, I connected my laptop to the flat screen, hooked up the home theater system and played Finding Nemo in all its 1080p glory for their innocent, fresh eyes.

Three days later, during breakfast my sister asked me to turn off the T.V. as I was passing by the living room. My niece wanted to watch Toy Story 2. My nephew only liked Monsters Inc. So when the younger one got to watch Sully and Company generate electricity, my niece was annoyed. She rolled her eyes and complained how boring and terrible Monsters Inc was. How stupid and silly. How annoying.

At that moment, I played out an imaginary scene. One where I explode with disbelief and ask them, “Are you kidding me? Three days ago you were watching grainy, 2D cartoons that were on endless repeat. And now, because you couldn’t see exactly what you wanted, your trashing one of the best animated movies ever made? Do you realize they spent a year on Sully’s fur? Do you?”

Of course, I didn’t say that. Because they were kids. But when I saw the reactions of Game of Thrones fans on my social media feeds, I wondered…”What’s your excuse?”

A lot of people utterly despised the 8th and final season of Game of Thrones. This post is not a justification for the season (though, full disclosure, I was ultimately satisfied with what they’d managed to achieve).

This post is instead a reminder. That something like Game of Thrones was never meant to happen. We take it for granted now, but the idea of a fantasy epic relying on geopolitical intrigue between warring kingdoms that was modelled on an actual historical period from the Middle Ages, filled with dense dialogue, hundreds of characters and multiple narrative threads spread out over a decade but released over a 10 week period annually…

….Is not supposed to be one of the greatest T.V. shows ever made, not just in terms of critical acclaim and awards won, but domestic and global viewership fueling a fan frenzy that has never waned over the years but instead kept building, until kids were named after characters, a YouTube subculture was born based on filming the reactions of those watching the show and everyone from the President to your school teacher made jokes about how ‘Winter Is Coming’.

George R.R. Martin got inspired to write this series while working on a science fiction show. The producers kept giving him notes on his writing, saying how they couldn’t film what he’d written because they didn’t have the budget. And when he visualized the scene where Ned Stark finds the direwolf, he decided to write this new fantasy novel and not be limited by a budget. He decided to let his imagination run wild; castles and armies and giant dragons. He never dreamed it would ever get filmed.

It shouldn’t have happened. But it did. We thankfully live through an age where a Television Studio like HBO can harness enough resources to produce a fantasy that requires filming all over the globe with thousands of extras and CGI and perfectly casted actors. This couldn’t have happened 10 years earlier.

And guess what, it probably can’t happen in the future as well. Because Game of Thrones is a show that benefited from the combination of technology and viewership before said technology split said viewership. Meaning it was made when TV shows were readily available globally, but before Network, Cable and Streaming services saturated the market, splitting audiences into particular niches. Once Amazon and Netflix and Hulu and Disney+ and Apple and Warner Media are all fighting it out, it’ll be extremely difficult for anyone to truly break out and draw such a huge audience.

Forget how lucky you and I are to have seen such a show. The question now is, does the ending that you perhaps hated, negate the entire viewing experience?

Does what happened in Season 8 Episode 5 ruin your memory of Ned Stark being beheaded? Of his wife, son and daughter in law being slaughtered at a wedding? Of the boy king who ordered his execution being poisoned? Of the dwarf who was falsely accused of poisoning the boy king passionately demanding trail by combat? Of the ensuing combat that ended with a head exploding?

Are all these moments and memories tarnished? Like that of an ex-lover who unforgivably betrayed you? Really?

Because I’m thinking the answer is no. I’m thinking you can still fondly remember where you were when you wept as Hodor did his duty. Then why are we hating the people who brought all of that to life? Because they couldn’t conclude a story that wasn’t even their own?

I’m happy with the way Game of Thrones ended. It was far from perfect. But it was a reminder of just how beautiful things can be when everything falls into place. We lived in a world where a genius author (GRRM’s) books were hardly read. A world where T.V. show producers dumbed down plots because they believed audiences were too stupid to understand. A world where no studio would hand over 20 million dollars for a single episode. A world where you as a consumer could watch something with a great soundtrack or a great plot and acting or great production value or huge mass appeal, but never all of them combined.

And then for ten years, this show came around and showed us what’s possible. I’m humbled by the experience, as I believe most of the ‘fans’ piling on mocking memes online and bitching about how they require a remake of the season , should be. We are not owed a great T.V. Show. Heck, I bet at least 80% of the people who watched this show and were disillusioned didn’t even pay for it.

Which is why I believe it’s time to turn off the hate. I understand if you were let down. Think why that happened. Reflect without the online pressure to take a side.

And if there’s still a gaping, unsatisfied hole in your creative heart, maybe pick up a book or search for a movie.

Perhaps help discover the next big Game of Thrones. Instead of tearing down one that’s done and dusted.

Feature courtesy: Gluekit (https://images.app.goo.gl/9NK5Hyq8DnGQwqGz8)

2 COMMENTS

  1. I absolutely agree with this piece. I agree that people were seeking a closure that they had build, rehearsed and formulated in their minds. I still appreciated how the writers managed to startle us by hinting for a ruler of the people, in the middle ages, making it look like Greek period drama concluding to discover democracy. And the unanswered questions or fate of characters is left for the audience to ponder upon. It was refreshing to see a perspective different to those who hated the end. 🙂

    • Yes! That was an excellent scene where we got to see how a fantasy story moves to a better political solution, while at the same time reminding us how jarring the concept of democracy would be to the characters. Hopefully as time passes the show will get more due for its ending 🙂

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