In around 2013/2014, I came to know of a show that had consistently high viewership figures and ratings and was winning lots of Emmy awards, not to say driving the internet crazy with every passing episode. Mildly amused, I read a bit about it. It was called Game of Thrones (GOT).
I got an opportunity to watch the series in 2014 but after watching the first couple minutes of the Pilot episode, I somehow didn’t feel interested enough to continue and left it at that. Nevertheless, by early 2015, I had fortuitously been bitten by the GOT bug. As I made arrangements to watch the first 3 seasons, season 5 was premiering. And this time, I watched a little more than the first couple of minutes. I watched the whole first episode. Almost immediately, I knew this was a thing that’d keep me hooked. And it has. I went on to watch (binged!) all 5 seasons. After a wait of almost 10 months, season 6 is finally about to premiere. And I can’t be any more excited.
A good TV show generally scores high on one or a couple of these counts – drama, action, direction, acting, etc. GOT scores high in all of these. Several of the episodes are so good that one feels like watching them over and over. And it being an adaptation of an ongoing fantasy book series, there is a whole universe of its own. Having never read the books, I was only focused on watching the episodes initially, not bothering about the burning questions like Jon Snow’s parentage or origin of the night walkers or Azor Ahai or the others for which millions of fan theories abound. But the wait for the sixth season made me scourge the internet (mostly YouTube or websites dedicated to the show) for “answers”.
I’m aware of the criticism that the show faces – graphic sex and gore, plus female nudity and their objectification. Now, the show doesn’t only depict females as being sex objects. It is a part of the whole package, which also has a lot of really strong female characters (Sansa, Cersei, Arya, Olenna, Daenerys, to name but a few). The way they are shown to be treated sometimes on the show is not incomprehensible either. The show’s timeline is in a medieval age and secondary treatment of women, while reprehensible, has been a running theme throughout history, unfortunately continuing even today. Where the show makes up for that is in giving us some truly epic female characters who, despite all the hardships and discrimination, fight back to gain an equal footing.
As for the other two points, more often than not the sex is an integral part of the story. The gore, well, I think it makes the show that much more realistic and shocking. Additionally, a premium cable network like HBO isn’t held back by the compulsions of catering to family audiences. This show isn’t meant for family viewing. Period.
For those unaware, the books and the series draw inspiration for a number of key plotlines from actual history. In a two-part video available on YouTube, George R. R. Martin and some authors and historians explain how Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) book series and its TV adaptation draw from the War of the Roses in medieval England.
As with most book adaptations, the show also divides book readers and non-book readers. The final word on this should go to Mr. Martin who said that both TV and books are different storytelling mediums and they are enjoyable in their own right, one not needing to be better or worse than the other. I concur. What’s more, this year the season 6 of the show will pass the books. The 5th book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, was released way back in 2011, when the show started its run. The 6th, The Winds of Winter, was scheduled to release this year but has been pushed back. So this year, both sets of fans would be on the same page as far as knowing the story and spoilers are concerned.
Those people, like the pre-2015 me who hadn’t had the pleasure of knowing what the fuss was all about, should in my humble opinion give the show and/or the books a try. If you like them, great. If you don’t, no problem. Either way, you’d have had a taste of one of the greatest geek and pop culture sensations of this age. And that’s an amazing thing in itself. Valar Morghulis!
I will be reviewing season 6 on my blog as well as contributing here on Geekritique about TV shows, books and movies.
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