Love it or hate it, you gotta admit that Game of Thrones is more than just a highly polarizing tv series. It’s been hailed as an iconic piece of media from this generation. Therefore, in honour of that, we’ve put together a general overview of the best (and not-so-best) bits of the Game of Thrones phenomenon. Let’s hope this doesn’t Robb you of any surprises.
WHY IT IS AWESOME
Political intrigue makes Trump look like child’s play.
Ok, so dragons may not be real and the politics aren’t rooted in history, but that doesn’t mean it’s not just as gripping. The plot is a constantly twisting and growing entity. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, Game of Thrones takes off in a completely different direction. Half the fun/frustration is trying to predict what’s going to happen, because in Westeros, anything can and does happen. The constant battle for political power is relatable, especially in the current political climate. Perhaps fans even feel a sense of camaraderie with the nameless, faceless civilians of Westeros, or the Dothraki slaves who suffer their fates at the hands of ruthless politicians. Even the most likeable characters like Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons, has such a nuanced character that we’re constantly kept riveted to the plot twists. It’s this unique quality of Game of Thrones that sets it apart from your typical ‘fantasy’ series.
Move over Lord Of The Rings, we’ve GOT better landscapes.
Like Lord Of The Rings, a great deal of Game of Thrones is shot on location throughout the world. Many of the scenes are also shot on location in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Europe and Africa. Some of the most impressive landscapes are that of King’s Landing (shot in Dubrovnik, Croatia), The Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn, (shot in Meteora, Greece), and Essos (shot in the Azure Window, Malta). With Game of Thrones, you can literally take a trip around the world in one episode!
However, many of the scenes are also aided and abetted by CGI. This mix of CGI and natural areas from all over the world brings to viewers an incredibly expansive, varied and beautifully created world. From the scorching Dothraki deserts to the grey Iron Islands and the lush, tropical beauty of Dorne. The long, panning shots of the rugged terrains of Westeros are truly awe-inspiring, not to mention the pure genius that goes into making the dragons come alive. Producers recently revealed that it takes 6 months and 10 animators to bring Drogon to life for one scene! #dedication
Abracada-blah, this is real magic.
The series didn’t start out with much magic or mysticism, but it has certainly become a trope as the seasons have progressed. Sparked by the death of Khal Drogo (we’re all still mourning) and the introduction of Melisandre, The Red Priestess, magic isn’t fun or easy. There aren’t 11-year old wizards finding out that they can hop on a train to Hogwarts or learning how to say ‘Ridikulus’ properly. Magic is a dark and terrifying power with severe consequences. Perhaps one of the best things about Game of Thrones is its variability. While magic is on the rise in some areas, there are others on the Game of Thrones Map that are simultaneously abandoning it. For example, in King’s Landing, scientific experimentation and innovation are prized. Both have devastating consequences like a massive death toll, but to the viewer who sees all, the reality is horrifying. After all, if combining magic and science brings us the reanimated Mountain, what else is there in store for us? Season 9 can’t come soon enough!
It’s House of Cards, meets Lord of the Rings, meets The Tudors, meets Harry Potter, meets The Walking Dead.
Game of Thrones is all and yet, none of those things. Take the best parts of each of these shows and you still wouldn’t have that unique screen experience of this show. This is precisely why you need to be watching Game of Thrones, if you haven’t already started!
There are cool creatures.
If you thought the world of Harry Potter brought mythical creatures to life, you’ll love the creatures in Game of Thrones. Intricate detail and careful attention have been paid to bringing them to life. While it’s not as complicated or detailed as the characters in Lord of the Rings, nor as innocent as the ones in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, they still manage to get you emotionally invested in their survival. Like the characters in Game of Thrones, even their beasts are nuanced. No purely evil Nazgul, nor cuddly pigmy puffs. Just your average, run-of-the-mill, child-eating, mother-protecting dragons. Oh, and a couple of dangerous Direwolves. But, at least they look fluffy.
The Game of Thrones world is rich, detailed and full of history.
There are 9 houses (i.e. families) in total in the Game of Thrones books and each one has its own history. If you’re feeling daunted by the sheer amount of background reading or catching up you’ll have to do, fret not! HBO released a quick 5-minute video that’ll tell you all you need to know! They also do hour-long recaps of the previous season before the start of a new season. As Season 8 of Game of Thrones will be the last one and will only premiere in 2019, there’s more than enough time to get caught up!
The character development is off-the-chain.
The Game of Thrones cast is a magnificent ensemble of some new and experienced actors. However, it’s not the cast we’re intrigued by (especially now that Jason Momoa is gone), it’s their characters. Dynamic yet sympathetic, even minor characters can inspire emotion in viewers. For example, an unnamed farmer and his daughter died and the world wept because of the remorse it inspired in their ‘murderer’. Perhaps some character development is predictable, with that many characters, its bound to happen. However, the Game of Thrones series doesn’t follow normal ideas of “good” and “bad”. Instead, it fully accepts that everything and everyone are “grey areas”. Moral dilemmas and ethical complexities are central to this show for all “good” characters are imperfect and even the “bad” (except maybe Joffrey) could be saved.
All the cool action sequences.
Big fights, one-on-one duels, underhanded deaths, quiet deaths and even one on the toilet. Game of Thrones won’t disappoint when it comes to action. You want a fire-breathing dragon? You got it! How about an ice-breathing, reanimated dragon? Yep, got them too! Girl-on-girl combat (both on and off the bed) are huge tropes in this series. Yes, women can scheme, plot and look pretty in uncomfortable dresses, but they can also kick the asses of toughened soldiers over twice their size (shoutout to Arya and The Hound).
There is never a dull moment because even long monologues are compelling and meaningful.
Do you remember the attention to detail in Harry Potter? Take that, times ten and you’ll begin to see how even small costume changes, like the addition of a peculiar necklace or the change of a character’s hairstyle can speak volumes. Details can also be hidden in wordplay. Alliteration, mimicry and repetition are some of the plot techniques the writers use to give clues to the audience. No scene is ever a ‘throw-away’ scene. If it seems like too much of a headache to constantly be looking for minute details, just enjoy the clever wordplay for what it is – some excellent writing. After all, in the end, all will be revealed. We hope.
They address important social issues.
So maybe you don’t care about the landscapes, character development or jaw-breaking action scenes. How about the social issues like slavery, racism, the marginalised, gender, and animal cruelty, among others? There’s always another layer of meaning in Game of Thrones, whether you want to see it or not. The strong female characters like Brienne of Tarth aren’t just role models. She’s also a metaphor for the inequity of society (then and now). Slavery may have been long abolished but it’s effects are still very real and persistent. It can be a controversial topic that is difficult for tv shows to portray, but that hasn’t stopped Game of Thrones.
TOP EXCUSES FOR AVOIDING IT
Too many characters.
It is true that the show consists of numerous characters and trying to remember every character is difficult. The unfamiliar names don’t make this task any easier, especially when characters like Gendry, the hottie, disappear and reappear seasons later. However, in such an intricate world, it’s inevitable. The trick is not to force yourself to remember their names. Do a quick google search when a ‘new’ face reappears instead.
The themes are too confusing.
What does it all mean!? Sure, the themes can be confusing sometimes. Especially when they’re juggling all the characters and plot lines. Viewers are often left wondering, “what does that mean?” Perhaps, the beauty here is that it can mean whatever you want it to mean.
Certain plot lines seem unnecessary.
It’s always annoying when story lines end on a cliff-hanger or aren’t properly resolved. Sometimes these plot lines can seem redundant. The plot deviations from what’s in the books don’t help this confusion.
It seems immoral.
Sex is not always a draw factor. Some viewers might find the sexual tropes in this series offensive or immoral. Rape and incest are other themes that Game of Thrones explores. Although these issues regularly occur in daily life, perhaps we’re not ready to see them on our screens just yet.
Lengthy production dates.
Sophie Turner, the actress who plays the main character Sansa Stark, recently let it slip that the final season will only air in 2019. This means viewers have to wait 2 years between the final and penultimate seasons! While it is certainly longer than gaps in normal series, it’s an increasing trend among popular tv series. For example, Sherlock fans waited 2 years between Season 3 in 2014 and the Special Season in 2016. Still, this can be a tiresome point for regular tv watchers.
Not as fantastical as it seems.
While some people might cheer at this news, hard-core fantasy lovers might view this as a betrayal of the genre. Especially since Game of Thrones is often compared to fantasy movies like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Instead, this series adopts parts of the fantasy genre while keeping a central realistic theme.
The good guys always lose.
A great example of the realism of this series. You can’t depend on the ‘good’ guys to win. In fact, the current trend seems to be that the ‘good’ die early. This is further complicated by the fact that there is no knight in shining armour, all-around good guy.
Lack of diversity.
There is a significant lack of coloured actors in the franchise, save the coloured slaves who are saved by the platinum blonde outsider! Talk about the social and ethical issues that could raise.
Never want to hear “Winter is coming” again.
Even fans have heard enough of the tagline “Winter is coming”. So, it’s no wonder that the phrase has become a bit of a turn off for potential viewers.
SEASONS RANKED FROM BEST TO WORST
Game of Thrones Season 4
‘The Red Wedding’ was a soul-wrenching disaster that left the world shocked. It wasn’t easy to bring viewers back from the darkness of that episode, but they did! Game of Thrones, arguably, had its best episodes in Season 4. Although the events of the third book were split across 2 seasons, it helped the writers focus on important plot points and create sufficient emotion for the events following the Red Wedding. In this season, everything was personal. Starting the season with the death of the most hated character (Joffrey), supported by some of Peter Dinklage’s best pieces of acting and ending with the climatic deaths of Oberyn Martell, Shae and Tywin Lannister, gets this season to the top of our list. No other season had this mix of epic battles and character-building drama like this one.
Game of Thrones Season 1
Game of Thrones Season 3
Game of Thrones Season 6
Game of Thrones Season 5
Game of Thrones Season 7
Game of Thrones Season 2
Ned Stark’s beheading in Season 1 was the first of many shocking deaths that would soon characterise Game of Thrones. However, Season 2 still felt like a debut season as we were introduced to a larger character base. Perhaps it was necessary given the detail in the books, but it seemed that characters were introduced and killed off in the next second! Season 2 might be important in terms of setting up the plot for future seasons, but it’s simply not as entertaining as the drama of the later seasons.
Overall you can’t go wrong with jumping on the Game of Thrones bandwagon. It’s a show with something for everyone: love, chaos, war, dragons and magic just to name a few. Have no Yigrettes, start watching Game of Thrones today.