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02/12/2021 13:10:08 •••

Not with a bang, but a whimper.

Game of Thrones, a low fantasy which ran on HBO from 2011 to 2019, is a show about nothing. No hugging, no learning.

The show, based on an unfinished Doorstopper septology by George R. R. Martin, started out strong: literally its first announcement was that Peter Dinklage, Martin's only choice for the role of tritagonist Tyrion Lannister, had accepted the part. It launched hard into its Low Fantasy, Gray-and-Grey Morality, personality-driven realpolitik and "Anyone Can Die" level of Reality Ensues. It has a fascinating Three Lines, Some Waiting plot: the "Seven Kingdoms" on the continent of Westeros are consumed by a Civil War spawned by a Succession Crisis, ignoring the rise of a Greater-Scope Villain from the Lands of Always Winter in the north and the efforts of a Literal Bastard to rally them against the threat... while, a continent away, a Princess in Rags rises to save them by magically resurrecting the extinct race of dragons. With such meaty material, it became the Star-Making Role for a number of now-unquestioned talents: Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Michelle Fairley, Jason Momoa, Maisie Williams, Jack Gleeson, Sophie Turner, Pedro Pascal, Gwendoline Christie and of course Dinklage himself, who was nominated for an acting Emmy every year. And, for the first few seasons, all was well.

Unfortunately, the show outpaced the books: during its entire run, only one novel (the fifth) was released. This led to a decline in the show's quality: showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were better at adaptation than at writing their own material, and the show Jumped the Shark at the end of the sixth season by adding Plot Armor to a series that was conspicuous for its lack. Additionally, Benioff explicitly declared in an interview that "Themes are for eighth-grade book reports," and the show deconstructed what that means: It's a show about nothing, with no Aesop to be found. There's a Shocking Swerve in the second-to-last episode that the show's Main Character was Evil All Along, and the Author Avatar delivers an Ice-Cream Koan that the other characters — and, by extension, the viewers — were evil to root for that character back when they were The Cape. By presenting this Broken Aesop in total sincerity, the show explicitly declares its irrelevance.

And that's why Game of Thrones is the real "show about nothing." That's why, for that matter, Game of Thrones stopped being a "water cooler show" the instant the credits rolled. It has no relevance to Real Life. It doesn't want to have relevance to Real Life. In the end, it is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Should you watch it? Yes. Just don't expect it to matter to you.

02/10/2021 00:00:00

This has some good points, but I think it goes a bit overboard in namedropping tropes when you could use potholes instead. For example, instead of saying "There's a Shocking Swerve in the second-to-last episode, you could say, "The second-to-last episode's twist comes out of nowhere."

02/12/2021 00:00:00

Co-signed, this would read much more smoothly without the tropes, but otherwise it\'s a pretty good review. The show did screw itself up catastrophically but I\'d question it being \"a show about nothing\" as you claim. It\'s about a lot of things: war, history, family, morality, Machiavellian politics, climate change. If it were truly about nothing relevant to reality, it wouldn\'t have connected with so many people.

Although it\'s hackneyed advice, I\'d heartily recommend the books over the show.

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