Full disclosure, I’m a Game of Thrones Super Fan. I wake up in the morning and hum “The Rains of Castamere” while I brush my teeth. When my daughter was 5 yrs old and complained that it was too cold in the house, I quickly responded with, ” Of course..Winter is Coming“. I also may or may not have once shouted “Dracarys!” at a slow moving vehicle on my way to the office . Yes, that’s me. I’m the one who curls into a ball of depression at the end of every season and who gets giddy at the mere mention of the start of the next. So, you can imagine my complete and utter shock in learning that there are those who refuse to partake of the greatest show in the history of television (yeah, I said it, wanna fight?).
What makes this worse, is that the “I Don’t Like Game of Thrones” crowd are the new Vegans. They are more than happy to announce that they dislike the show, often relishing the gasps and clutching of pearls that such a declaration elicits from those of us who are in our right minds. After just such an exchange with a college friend over social media who announced that she had never watched a single episode and didn’t care to, I became inspired. I decided that these poor souls are worthy of study and to that end, I polled eight separate individuals from various walks of life who are decidedly NOT fans of Game of Thrones. After studying their responses as closely as Tyrion Lannister studies a bottle of Dornish Wine, I narrowed their reasoning down to four distinct categories which I now present to you, dear reader, but beware… The night is dark, and full of critics….
TOO MUCH SEX/GORE
By now, most people can agree that GOT is infamous for its explicit sex scenes and portrayals of graphic violence. Admittedly, that violence is sometimes in the form of rape and the consensual sex scenes can appear to exist merely for their own sake. Defenders of the show point to a GOT device called sexposition; the idea that the explicit depictions of sex are used to further the plot or explain certain aspects of the story. So too, it is argued that the exquisietly detailed acts of violence that range from mass slaughters to the gouging of eyes, further the point that GOT is set in a harsh world where life and death are literally around every corner. This does not sit well with the show’s detractors.
“The regular violence and gore are also a deterrent but having so many rape scenes and violence against women being portrayed in almost every episode have made it a deal breaker for sure.” says Glenda G. from Pennsylvania. “An article…my friend posted cited 50 rapes and 29 victims in just part of the 2015 season alone. That’s just insane in my opinion.”
Vicki L. from Manchester UK was of the opinion that the sex and violence actually hindered plot development. “I found that the graphic amount of sex and violence was not conducive to the plot. It actually made it quite boring and I found myself wanting to forward through to get to some real plot. I think it seems to be there to add shock value rather than to tell a story.” she said.
TROUBLE KEEPING TRACK
Second on the list of complaints for those who have checked out on GOT, is the almost dizzying complexity of the way the story is told. There are a myriad of characters with aligning and competing interests and their tales wind in such a serpentine fashion that it is often enough to make even dedicated fans throw in the towel. I get it. On this one, I can understand and appreciate their frustration. Personally, I have made peace with this problem by resigning myself to the fact that I will never remember every character’s name or how they are related to the overall story, but I have found that as long as I can keep track of the major players, I can remain invested in the show. This tactic, however, is not suited for everyone.
“You can’t keep up!” said Mike M. of Illinois. “Once I thought I had all the alliances and enemies in order, they’d throw in a new House that I’d never heard of. How am I supposed to know which family has sworn what oath to who? I feel like I need to know who these people are in order to fully appreciate the story. So finally I just gave up watching.”
Abigail I. from the U.K. kept it real in her pointed response, “Now, I only watch the odd episode if dragons are in in it, but I don’t keep up with the series.”
RELIANCE ON SHOCK OVER SUBSTANCE
If there is one thing that GOT delivers in spades, it’s shock and awe. Often times this ties back into the graphic nature of sex and violence on the show, but on other occasions it takes the form of a completely unexpected revelation, dirty double dealing or a twist that has viewers left speechless…until Monday morning at the water cooler. Yet, despite these jaw dropping moments, many of the show’s detractors feel that the reliance on shock is to cover for a plot that is meaningless.
Damion R. of New Jersey had some serious opinons on the matter. “The show isn’t about anything. There are no over arching themes, no major character arcs, nothing that speaks to what it is at the core of the human condition. It tries to accomplish this by way of in your face gore and betrayal but fails.”
Likewise, Paul B. also from New Jersey, finds the that the Game of Thrones is a story on thin ice. “Take away the dragons, gore and fucking and you’re not left with much. The problematic bits don’t even do much to advance the story or the characters.”
Last but not least is something I like to call the “Bandwagon Effect”. I myself, have fallen victim to this. For example, in the late 90’s I refused to watch Seinfeld. Why? For spite. The fact that the show was so popular and so many people told me I HAD to watch it completely turned me off. So too it is with Game of Thrones. There are fans who throw GOT viewing parties, and those who eschew family gatherings and other events that get in the way of their Sunday night ritual. When a potential viewer meets the overly enthusiastic “OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DON’T WATCH THIS WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?” type, it can be a bit off-putting. Having learned nothing as to why I steered clear of Seinfeld, I fully admit that I am that guy…and it’s guys like me who end up pushing away possible GOT converts.
For example, in answer to whether she had attempted to watch the show at all, Ruth F. of Maryland admitted that at first, she simply didn’t have HBO. Thereafter, it was a different story. “It’s not the show I don’t like, it’s the pressure from everyone else that makes me reluctant to watch. So many people in my life were telling me ‘how much I’m missing out on’ this life altering TV show.”
Similarly, James W. from the U.K. confesses that he has watched the first episode and has seen video clips but that people trying to push him onto the bandwagon is getting old. “I do get sick of people telling me I should give it another go.” he said.
By The Old Gods and The New! These are some very compelling arguments against my beloved Game of Thrones. Could it be that these well thought out and reasoned responses have some validity and I am just being a stubborn, thick headed fanboy who can’t accept the opinions of others? Hmmm….I’ve been accused of worse. And I guess it’s true that Game of Thrones isn’t for everyone. Although, where I begin to butt heads with the haters, is when they purport to speak for a group as a whole or when they criticize on too broad a scale. To declare that the show is offensive to women is an opinion, but you are not the Lorax and you do not speak for anyone but yourself. There are many female fans who find the characters of Danerys, Arya and even Cersei empowering and inspiring. Likewise, when critics claim that the show is meaningless and lacking substance, they are patently ignoring the themes of Honor, Familial Relationships, Coming of Age and Gender Roles that permeate the story as a whole. I get that we are all entitled to our personal views, but such sweeping attacks are more born of specific distaste and don’t speak the tale in its totality.
All in all, I’m glad that I engaged in this exercise. It helped me realize that although we may not always agree, I could be viewed as too harsh on those who simply aren’t interested in GOT. Certainly, one can understand and appreciate that there are people who despite all the action, adventure, fantasy, battles, frozen zombies, giants, dragons and….oh what the hell is wrong with you people?? There are DRAGONS!!! Just watch the Damn Show!!