It’s time for another TV review theme! This round of reviews will hone in on (drum roll, please)…Grown-Up Fantasy! There’s been a steady stream of fantasy television over the last several years, and though most of it is appropriate for families, some shows are geared strictly toward adults. Of these grown-up fantasy shows, probably none of them are more clearly for adults than HBO’s huge hit, Game of Thrones.
The hype for this show was just too big for me to ignore. Absolutely everyone seemed to be going crazy over Game of Thrones, and I had to find out why. As most people probably know, it’s based on the Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R. R. Martin. I felt a little guilty starting the show without reading first, but, in my defense, those books are friggin’ long. So I dove into season one really just knowing the barebones of the premise. My initial reaction: “Wow, there are a lot of characters. Like, a lot. And they have a lot of sex. And they kill a lot of people.” It was jarring, but after three jam-packed, crazy seasons, I can assure you that the hype is not just hype. Game of Thrones is awesome.
Synopsis: “Seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.
The Good: The plot, the script, the characters, the actors…basically everything. Martin was recruited to help pen the series, and I’m sure having the author on hand has been a huge asset. From what I understand, the show captures the books almost perfectly, which has made quite a positive impression on diehard fans of the book series. The world Martin has created is ridiculously complex, but it’s a ton of fun to keep up with all of the richly developed characters and storylines within it. Yes, we’ve got several different families vying for the Iron Throne (the ugliest, scariest, and most impressive seat of power you’ve ever seen), but there’s so much more going on. The series incoporates magic, dragons, giants…even zombies! But, more importantly, there are really interesting characters going through so many walks of life. You adore them, you loathe them, or maybe you’re just really intrigued by them. Regardless of how you feel about the characters, you find yourself invested in what’s going on. You’re devastated when the ones you love are put through the ringer, and it makes your week when the villains are put in their place. And there are so many twists and turns and shocking surprises that you’re always on the edge of your seat. Yep. It’s that good. Favorite moment: It’s hard to pick just one, but if I have to, you bet it’s going to involve the hilarious, sharp-tongued, and very clever Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage). Tyrion is the black sheep of his well-to-do family. He’s lazy, bitter, and addicted to alcohol. Oh, and he’s also a dwarf. This makes things tough when he’s suddenly forced to command the king’s army and protect the city against a vicious assault. But he proves his mettle by bravely leading the charge and even sharing a surprisingly rousing battle speech. Tyrion has a slew of awesome moments, but this is arguably his peak.
The Bad: As with any HBO show, you have to prep yourself for an abundance of language, nudity, sex, and violence. The show has oodles of all of these (as do the books, from what I understand). There are even some cringeworthy instances of rape and incest. What’s probably the worst, though, is the violence. People are decapitated, tortured, sliced up, shot with arrows, stabbed—you name it. I won’t lie, I’ve had to look away a few times. But I’m not big on gore, so maybe that’s just me. If you’re extra sensitive to any of these things I’ve mentioned, this might not be the show for you. Least favorite moment: Season three’s “Red Wedding.” You might have heard of it because it absolutely exploded on all forms of social media. It’s beyond brutal. I can’t say anymore. I. Just. Can’t. If you’re thinking about watching this show, don’t you dare look it up, but be prepared.
To Sum It Up: Obviously, this is not a family show. It might not even be the right cup of tea for many adults. The characters you grow attached to will either die in brutal ways or go through such awful stuff that you’re amazed they have the desire to live at all. With dozens of main characters fighting each other for dozens of reasons, there are plenty of opportunities for bad things to happen. The show can get confusing and frustrating and downright heartbreaking. But you know what? None of that takes away from its awesomeness. These characters and this story are so fantastic that you just have to keep watching. If your interest is peaked, give season one a try. There are only three seasons so far and 10 episodes per season, which leaves you plenty of time to catch up before season four starts next March. If you love it, thank me later. If you don’t…well, not everyone is suited to the land of Westeros. Just don’t take away any ideas of chopping off my head.
My Grade: A