I Was Wrong About...Game of Thrones
It’s been a long time since we last had an issue where one of us editors admitted to being wrong about something. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether there’s any deeper significance to that, but I’m here to break that streak by admitting that I was wrong about something… Again.
For our older readers, you might remember that, a couple of years ago, I wrote the very first “I Was Wrong About…” article, begging forgiveness for my misguided assumptions about Downton Abbey. Well, it’s once again time for me to admit that I was wrong about a TV show and this time, it’s quite a doozy.
You’d have to have been living under a rock for the last 7 years to not have heard about a little show called Game of Thrones. The show has been a bona fide cultural phenomenon since its debut in April, 2011 and you’ve surely heard more than enough about it since then, which is why this article isn’t as much about the show itself, but more about my own misconceptions.
“I’m not really interested in fantasy,” was my typical response to people telling me to watch GOT over the years. Before that, I usually had to hear “you don’t watch Game of Thrones!??!” The only other piece of pop culture that has ever caused me as much grief for not having seen it was Titanic (which I finally watched in the summer of 2013, so let me be!). To some extent, the reactions I got to being a living, breathing, human being who seriously doesn’t watch GOT made me even less inclined to watch it.
Not to sound like a total hipster, but I was put off by the idea of watching the show merely for the sake of it being so popular. I was pretty adamant that I had no interest in it because the fantasy genre doesn’t really do much for me and that wouldn’t change, no matter how popular the show was. The Marvel movies are incredibly popular too, but I’ve all but given up on watching them (and no, don’t expect an “I Was Wrong About Marvel” article). So the “it’s popular for a reason” line wasn’t going to work on me.
I was eventually talked into it by one of my best friends, who offered to watch it with me, even though she had already seen everything that had been released up to that point. I figured I had nothing to lose, spending an afternoon watching a few episodes of the show with her to finally say “I gave it a chance.”
The first episode didn’t do much to dispel my assumptions of it being generic fantasy. It felt slow and full of information about bloodlines and such that I felt little investment in; not to mention names that would go in one ear and out the other. Slowly, but surely, however, I began to see the characters as more than stereotypes. Characters like Jamie, who initially appear to be almost stereotypically evil, develop in surprising ways, making you reevaluate your feelings about many of the characters. Except Joffrey. That guy is always terrible. I also started to find moments of the show that were genuinely funny, many of them coming from a quip by Tyrion Lannister, which dispelled my assumptions about it being just dry, all-too-serious fantasy. Most crucially of all, however, I began to witness moments that were truly shocking.
Game of Thrones is known for its ability to shock the audience, almost to the point of self-parody but never quite crossing that line. It’s a cliché at this point to say that it’s a show where anything can happen, but it’s true. You can never feel truly safe about any of the characters, but you can’t help but grow attached to many of them anyway. My friend had a ton of fun keeping an eye on me during particularly infamous moments, waiting for my reactions and berating me for not having more enthusiasm at times than going “oh shit!”
I mentioned earlier that the popularity of the show was something that initially put me off watching it, at least to some extent. Now, however, I find the fandom to be a big part of the fun. It started with just me and my friend, freaking out over developments in the show or her trying to stay straight-faced while I speculated about what might happen. Eventually, I was able to start talking about it with all of those other friends who had bugged me about it for years. Suddenly, I was finally able to understand their references and even make some of my own! Lastly, the amount of memes that the show has spawned is pretty crazy, and my friend has made it a point to send me a ton of them whenever we’ve gotten up to the relevant parts of the show.
It’s this shared experience that has made it particularly engaging to keep up with the show. Not to say that the show itself isn’t good enough on its own, because it certainly is, but being part of a shared enthusiasm adds another layer to it. It makes it a unique, collective experience central to its own time. The next season to arrive will be the last, but it will also be the first that I can watch live as it airs. You can rest assured that I’ll be there, participating in this fandom and watching this show that, yes, I was totally wrong about.