I never thought I would like Game of Thrones.
Oh sure, I played Dungeons and Dragons with next-door bestie Allen Abbassi for a time back in the late 70’s. He had all of the funky dice, the books explaining the “rules” and I remember drawing on graph paper the shape and dimensions of a dungeon hallway in which we encountered a ravaging band of Orcs – or some other stupid mythical creature.
It didn’t last long for us, and as such my taste of medieval fantasy went dormant for a long, long time. I briefly rekindled it when my father in law – of all people! – made me take him out to see the first of the new series of Lord of the Rings movies.
I kinda liked the first. The second was a long, loud clanging of swords and riding of horses every where. By the third, I told my dad: “Sorry, pop. I’m out.”
So when it came to Game of Thrones, I sat on the sidelines for the first SIX seasons! This despite the fact that a good overlap of sportstalk radio listeners were ARDENT Thrones nerds and I heard/read many other sports radio hosts talk about the show, as if it were another team or league – like the Lakers, or the NBA.
Fucking nerds, I thought.
But like I did with Breaking Bad (I didn’t START watching it, until the series had ENDED!) I finally decided last summer to dig in and give it a try. At first, I was rather “meh.” But it didn’t take long. I think when The Mountain lost that jousting match, and beheaded his own horse in a fit of rage – that’s when I was hooked.
Violent. Intense. Unpredictable. Borderline insane. And it just got better and better and better from there.
I remember last summer as I started to talk about my newfound fandom of the show on the air, that a listener wrote me a lengthy and genuine email about how utterly jealous of me he was. Why? Because, he said, I had dozens of hours of awesome, virgin Thrones episodes just waiting for me. And that he wished that it was him!
Sure enough, I gobbled through the seasons – at first with some, ahem, gently pirated copies on a thumb drive – then I went out to the store and bought all the Blu-Ray discs because I plan to go through all the extra materials and commentary at some point.
Plus, I figured I owed it to the show’s creators, actors, writers and producers – and to a lesser extent, HBO – to financially support a creative effort so awesome. I have done the same in purchasing in total, the entire Deadwood series (tragically cut short at just 3 seasons) as well as The Sopranos.
What was it, I wondered, that resonated with me about Game of Thrones?
I came to conclude that, yes, it WAS the violence and the brutality, and the sex that made this show DIFFERENT than comic book style medieval fantasy shows, and movies. It gave the experience an authenticity that was utterly necessary to draw you in.
Splitting a man’s head open like a cantaloupe with a broad sword, ain’t pretty folks. But they had to show it to you, so that you were constantly reminded that this wasn’t Frodo Baggins running around in a buckskin vest using “magic” to “slay” bad guys.
Then, of course, you had all of the uncomfortable scenes involving violence against women. Apparently, the usual forces of feminism and political correctness tried to make a run at this issue when the show was just a few years old. Thankfully, they were repelled like a wildling army at the gates of the wall.
I remember reading somewhere – you’ll have to google it, sorry – about how the show’s creators made a decision early on that they were going to do Game of Thrones BALLS TO THE WALL on all of this stuff – the language, the violence, the sex, and the brutality – or it wasn’t worth doing at all.
Thank god they prevailed.
Because the handful of female principals left standing at this point in the show, would not be nearly as authentic had they not been forced to navigate a mythical world in which there are no “safe spaces” or HR departments making sure nobody grabbed their asses running around the castle.
To buy into Danerys Targaryan or Aria Stark or Cersei Lanister as female badasses, requires their journey through some fairly awful and bloody lowpoints along the way.
I guess what I appreciate most about the show was how densely packed with detail it is, and also how expansive and open ended the 7 Kingdoms are in terms of peoples, cities, and traditions. The fact that every few episodes or so, you’d end up somewhere new thinking… “Now who in the fuck are THESE guys!” was always a kick.
And like all great shows, it moved slowly. I think I appreciated that most about Breaking Bad. It wasn’t rushing to push you through a story line.
So anyhow, I just watched the first episode of Season Seven just like all of you humps out there who have been Thrones Nerds for years. I liked it. But I wonder if I’ll like the series as much, having to wait like a dog for his next bowl of Alpo every week.
I also worry that there are so many plot threads which are ramped up to full speed now, that the show will start taking short cuts to keep things moving along. (Case in point: The fat kid who just happens to find a key piece of information to help Jon Snow fight the White Walkers in the first little handful of books he plucks from a Wal-Mart sized library.)
All that said, thank god for Game of Thrones’ return during the dead of sports summer. For us nerds it’ll help get us home to Lord Football come September, without too much further impatient suffering.
Sopranos was awesome. GOT is awful nerd shit.
The other thing that makes it unique, and the thing that grabbed me from early on, is that the narrative does not play by the same rules as other movies, books, stories and tv shows do. At my son’s urging, I started watching and immediately identified Ned Stark as the hero – partly because he was played by Sean Bean – and figured the story would revolve around him for the life of the series. I remember bolting upright in my seat while watching (I think) episode 9 from season 1 and thinking “Oh my (or words to that effect), I did not see that coming.” No guarantees in life or Game of Thrones.
It’s Arya Stark not Aria. (Adjusts nerd glasses)
To be fair Sam knew the section with the books he wanted, and knew the books had to have something very important in them since they were locked up. Also we don’t know how long he was looking thru the book before the scene started.
My bigger issue is why is Dragonstone abandoned? That’s a freakishly valuable castle. On the southeast shore of Westeros there’s an abandoned castle? Robert would have either claimed that as his when he became king or flattened it to show his absolute power(& that the Targaryen dynasty was dead). I get it, we don’t have the time for them to fight a battle just to get off their boats, but for the Lannister to just let Dany & co. waltz up to the shore and get boots on the ground with no resistance, is imbecilic. What use are the unsullied, or dothraki armies on boats? None. Now put them on land and you’re toast. These writers…yeesh.
So right Czabe. One of the few TV shows that I’ll watch because of all the sex, violence, story lines, etc., geared to adults with plenty of fantasy mixed in a good way. Its so bad ass like Breaking Bad, Fargo, that you never know when someone will get crushed, an arm cut off, or killed which you never saw coming (Rob at the Red wedding! Hodor). I expect more of the same as the next two seasons are shorter and final seasons of GOT. Expect some epic battles between fire breathing dragons and white walkers and their walking deads. Hop on Czabe for Winter is Here.
I thought I was only person who watched Breaking Bad after it ended. I was very good about not being “That Guy” who talks up a show long after the fad has passed. Of course it wasn’t that difficult since it seems like everyone where I work only watches The History Channel or The Hallmark Channel.
I would hate to be The Mountain’s caddie or equipment rep.
Need to get back on it, I’m in season 3 or 4 where the fancy sword fighter got his eyes squeezed out (whoever the big hercules guy was) in order to save the midget. I didn’t want to see the midget go and I think I had a nightmare of someone squeezing my eyeballs out so I took a break (probably a year now)….will get back into it with late nights of bourbon and binge-watching after this article. LOVE the girl with the dragons and the midget, also love Stark’s kids and hope they somehow work together to capture the throne. Keep up the good work and START A FUCKING PODCAST already.
Jon in Indy
Swerve back to the LOTR movies for a bit- I never saw the plodding #2 movie, but I did see the finale #3 movie (The Return of the King). I thought #3 was pretty darn good, so I came here to post because I have not seen/ heard any other listeners reply to your statement on the radio/ blog. You are snake-bit from #2 and eschewed #3, but I think #3 is worth going back and watching. Jon in Indy