‘Thrones’ Entertains Vast Audience
For the past three years, my buddies have tried to get me to watch the HBO series, “Game of Thrones.” I steadfastly resisted because my weekly TV-viewing dance card is sadly overbooked. All I heard about “Game of Thrones” was that each hour-long episode was filled with sex and violence and more violence and sex. Although I’m not opposed to watching this combo as a mainstay of a series (for example, the BBC series “Luther” or HBO’s “The Wire”), I was able to resist being seduced by “Game of Thrones” until post-midterms several weeks ago when I finally succumbed. This was the best worst decision that I’ve made in a long time.
My addiction to “Game of Thrones” started innocently on a Monday afternoon, and I found the first four episodes a bit slow. Lots of characters from many different families and all with foreign accents, lots of 17th century names and really not much action to hold my interest. However, by the time I started episode five, I was hooked and could not stop watching. With a relatively easy week of classes, I consumed all 33 episodes of “Game of Thrones” in five days. My friends threatened to do an intervention, but I blew by them after class and ran to my house to watch the next episode. Soon, fellow addicts joined me for viewing parties and deconstructing what exactly was happening in each episode. People joked about how I was going to catch up in time to watch the next episode in real time with them. And I did. (Yup, 33 episodes in five days … not really an accomplishment for my resume!)
After becoming totally consumed by “Game of Thrones” for an intense short period of time, I began to wonder, who watches “Game of Thrones” and why? Last week my television studies class surveyed roughly a quarter of Whitman College students about their consumption habits and what TV shows they routinely watched. Hands down, “Game of Thrones” was the winner, beating out the second most-watched show, “House of Cards,” by twice the audience number. Why do so many people watch “Game of Thrones?” Is it the sex, the scanty clothes, the violence, the storyline or the plot?
When I polled my friends about why they watched “Game of Thrones,” most replied it was for the sex, hot bodies and violence. What I also love about the show is how the writers make the viewer connect and care about a specific character and then have no problem pulling out the big sword or crossbow and stabbing them in the heart. I cannot think of another show where seemingly none of the characters are sacred, and everyone is fair game to be in their last episode. The writers have infused each character with so much emotion and intensity that you immediately love/hate or adore/despise the person. Personally, I despised the character Joffrey and my friend assured me, “Don’t worry, he gets worse.” I didn’t believe him … until Joffrey got worse and worse and worse.
Even with excellent writing and acting, “Game of Thrones” realistically is not the best show on television, but it brings people together and sparks conversation. Sunday night you’ll find me in the Phi Delta Theta house with a dozen or so people watching the next episode, and I’ll be pissed off if my favorite character is killed. The conversation before or after class on Monday will go something like, “Oh my God, did you see where the guy who did the thing to that girl teamed up with the grandma to do the thing to that guy I hate?” Yup, “Game of Thrones” seems to be the current hot must-see series that is completely addicting. But it might be a good idea to wait until after finals to start.