It seems that everyone is watching Game of Thrones nowadays. What began as a modestly written series of novels quickly turned into a staple of small screen entertainment, although it's now beginning to feel more and more like a collection of short films rather than a TV show. When everything's said and done it's going to be held in the same regard as landmarks such as The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Twilight Zone, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. A commendable achievement, and one that The Walking Dead once strived so hard to attain but ultimately could not reach.
Just how did this happen though? In the very beginning George RR Martin conceptualized what was originally intended to be a three volume set of novels specifically crafted to be unadaptable to other forms of media. Not only was this his biggest failure as an author, it was also by far his most profitable. His story translated very well into a decadently budgeted HBO series, and defied expectations by only getting better as the seasons went on. What's even more baffling is that the story line sounds far from anything which could ever hope to become as rabid of a social phenomenon that it blossomed into. As it's essentially a very long and drawn out story about the politics of a fictional medieval world. In spite of everything though, here we are now. Just how did this happen though?
It Appeals to the Younger Generation
Liberally sprinkled between the the expository political tensions the show revolves around is a fantastical story line about life and death, revolving around multiple characters and taking place over the course of seven seasons there's tales of the dragons, magic, war, and the white walkers. This all reeled in a much younger crowd than the show was ever intended to reach. Despite the heavy subject matter you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would be as bold as to describe Game of Thrones as 'boring.' This is because it contains a wide variety of genre's of entertainment, and juggles them very well. If you really look back at the entire story line of the show, it's incredibly slow paced. When it first aired, everyone expected the plot points we're only now reaching to come to fruition in the second or third season. Oh were they mistaken.... Yet the world is so enchanting, and it's such an action packed riveting story that it managed to hold even the short attention span of the millennial.
It Appeals to the Older Generation
The beauty of Game of Thrones is how ambitious in scope it is. For all the violence, magic, and theatrics, there are not only deep seeded undertones which pertain to another crowd. There's entirely seperate story lines existing simultaneously. The other half of the show revolves around the politics which come from ruling the seven kingdoms. It explores everything that people are willing to do to gain power in Kings Landing, and just how that power can corrupt a person. We have the story of the Lannisters and just how drastically different they are from each other, highlighting how these differences lead to serious tension surrounding the crown. On top of all of this it takes a long hard look at religion, examining how it fundamentally changes the way people act and the dangers of having both blind faith, and no faith. The genius of Game of Thrones is that it easily could have been splitten into two different shows, destined to one day come together for the ending. However these two drastically tonally different story lines come together to form what is arguably the most well rounded show in television history.
Against all Odds, it's Relatable
George RR Martin and the show runners at HBO somehow managed to make a story line about the monarchs of a mystical land, dragon fire, and the undead very relatable. Many parallels between Tyrion and modern marginalized sectors of the population can be drawn. Everyone disregards him due to the fact that he's different, they see him as a monster, an abomination who should have never been born. This is a plight which many people feel they're experiencing in our world right now.
Sam represents an unconventional, yet much more realistic take on the classic underdog story. He begins the show as a nearly useless privileged boy who can barely lift a sword and has serious self worth issues. Too often in popular entertainment does this character grow into a virtually flawless specimen of human excellence in order to make the audience feel good about themselves, but that never quite happens for Sam. Yes, he finds solace in what he has. He gets himself a girl, a surrogate child, and his brothers, but he never strays too far from the role of the underdog. Which ultimately lets him remain a very relatable character, often finding himself down and out with something to prove. Not only is this a much more realistic take on a character like him, it's a breath of fresh air.
There are countless other examples of relatability, such as Brienne who constantly has to prove herself to everyone she comes across due to their preconceived notions of her. Cersei, who despite being a horrible person proves time and time again that she'll do unspeakable things to defend her children before ultimately losing them all. Jamie, who is his own worst enemy and can't escape the orbit of the most toxic person in his life, despite having so many redeemable qualities. etc. etc.
As I previously said, the longer the show has gone on each episode has began to feel more like a bonafide short film than those which came before it. HBO is making history with how much time and effort is put into each episode, and ultimately setting a new standard for what can be accomplished on the small screen. In the beginning, the budget per episode was already astoundingly high at 5 - 6 million dollars a piece. But it's only increased as the series went on until now where it's an upwards of 10 million per episode. This level of CGI, set pieces, and practical effects quality on a TV show was unheard of not very long ago, and was highly effective at reeling in the masses. As the seasons get shorter and the production of a higher quality each week feels more and more like a grand spectacle, and the next and final season will only feel more so. There's a lot to look forward to.
Game of Thrones is an absolute behemoth which is dominating television right now, and will without a doubt go down as one of the greatest TV series of all time...