Will you watch Game of Thrones? Should you?
The title of this article may mean very different things depending on when you read it. As I write this, the seventh season will air in just a few days and the advertisement effort is in full swing. Magazines bring details about the characters, websites start publishing pictures and even my colleagues have started sharing their own theories about it. The message is clear: “go watch the next season, it’s good stuff”. But should you really do that?
We all look for good entertainment and nowadays we are spoiled for choice. No matter what medium is your favorite there is always more content that you can go for. And of course, we do not want to miss out, we want to avoid wasting our time. Will this new season be worth your time? If you have never watched an episode, is this a series that could be good for you? Or is it a boring slog? Too confusing, disgusting, shallow? And how can you be sure?
What we can be sure is that we cannot rely completely on the media. Most of these articles are just paid ads, or opinion pieces targeted at generating traffic. Of course they want you to watch. Another option is to rely on friends and ask them their opinion. Considering that Game of Thrones is a popular series, we all have a friend or two that will tune in and can give us their advice. Even in the unlikely case of a group of people that have never watched the series, they usually have a well formed opinion about why.
But again, how much can you rely on their opinion? Sure, the fans will tell you that the only option is to watch it. Others will tell you to not do it because there was something they did not like. The problem with the opinions of other people is that often they do not apply to you. Even if your friend tries to figure out what you like, it is not the same. Hey, we all have received a present that we hated from a friend that should know us better. And sometimes, what is “good” is not what we are looking for. Sometimes we need something lame and funny.
So when it comes to deciding if I am going to spend my extremely scarce time, how can I be sure I make a good choice? Well, ideally I would consult a source that describes Game of Thrones accurately enough but without spoilers. That way I could start to get an idea of the kind of experience that the series offers me. I want to be the one taking the decision, and not take a leap of faith. And since I know of no such thing, I will make it happen here. Hopefully, this will help others and myself to properly manage our time.
So what is Game of Thrones? Maybe you are reading this in the future, having never seen a single episode. Well, this is a fantasy series and fairly complex at that. It has a larger than average amount of characters and most if not all of them have their own plot points and story arcs. There is violence, romance, intrigue, personal relationships, destiny, magic, sensuality, sexuality, despair and adventure, just to name a few.
Sometimes it feels like it cannot decide what kind of series it wants to be. For a long time it focuses on the events of normal men and women, and then it reminds us that it is also a world of magic, with characters with magical abilities. There are no dwarves or elves, and then it comes out with dragons and giants. A single episode can contain a relaxed talk in the gardens of the palace and a bloody battle. And yet, this apparent scatter of themes is one of the strengths of the series. The different cultures, the different religions, the different landscapes… all contribute to create a world that feels more real than the average fictional world. A world filled with people seeking power, riches, destiny, true love or revenge. No matter which kind of character you are looking for, you are likely find a good example in Game of Thrones.
However, another point worth mentioning is how explicit the series is, specially when it comes to violence and sex. Many characters named and unnamed die on screen, usually as a result of an episode of violence. The series does not shy away from showing blood, gore and severed limbs. Characters that do not die can also be the victims of torture, dismemberment or psychological abuse. On the other side of the coin, there are also several instances of full male and female nudity, and several sexual relations are shown on screen. The series also mentions prostitution, incest, child abuse and rape in various degrees. This does not mean that the series is just non-stop sex and violence, but anyone wanting to go through the series better be fine with encountering these themes.
All in all, I do not think that these are the selling points of the series. It has not become popular because of impressive women in positions of power, cool guys being awesome with swords, bad guys dropping like flies or being able to see boobs every now and then. The real reason Game of Thrones is popular is because of the stories that it tells. Every character has their own and it is hard to resist the curiosity to know what happens next. Will the knight succeed in battle? Will the travelers reach their destination unharmed? Will the schemer get away with their actions or will they fail and pay the price?
And in the end, that is what it is going to do it for me. I like stories. I enjoy well crafted plots, with imperfect characters. I like seeing the plotlines emerge, unfold and intertwine. Considering how the series is, it has the potential to be interesting. I am looking for an experience that can spark my imagination, and this one could be it.
Is it one for you as well? Do you find it interesting? Exciting? Or perhaps repulsive? Unnecessarily violent? I hope that the description that I have provided will make it easier for you to decide how to spend your afternoon. Because in the end what really matters is how you feel about it.