December 14, 2013

Why I hate 'Game of Thrones'

I know everyone everywhere is obsessed with 'Game of Thrones' right now, but I hate it. I hate the books, and I hate the HBO television show.

I get why the 'Game of Thrones' show is popular. The Lord of the Rings movies brought high fantasy to the masses, made a lot of money (though, let's be honest with ourselves, the movies were far from perfect) and then ended. 'Pillars of the Earth' was television at its finest sporting an awesome cast, great characters and a crazy interconnected plot set in a wildly unstable period of British history, which as a mini-series, also ended. After those two properties came increasingly disappointing follow-ups, 'World Without End' which was just boring, and more recently, Peter Jackson's very watered down and bloated 'The Hobbit.' People who had never considered themselves fans of either historical fiction or high fantasy suddenly found themselves both obsessively interested and entirely out of things to watch. Into the breach, stepped HBO, an enormous production budget, and a series of books which already had a fan base, and due to the style of writing could conceivably go on forever! A new cultural phenom was born.

I get it.

But I hate it. Let me tell you why.

1) Nobody matters.

I tried reading 'Game of Thrones' years ago when only fantasy nerds cared about it, and I wondered the same thing then that I did when I watched the opening season: who am I supposed to care about? The first character you meet in the series (and I mean, episode 1) dies five minutes after being introduced. The next character you meet in any detail winds up in a coma. The next character winds up marooned in a winter wasteland with no real place to go and nothing particularly interesting to do. This process continues through the whole series. There are so many characters introduced and then dispatched, it's hard to keep track of who I am supposed to care about. 

The inevitable rebuttal is, well, we're supposed to care about all of them. (A second rebuttal could be made that we're really just supposed to care about Peter Dinklage, which I have no intention of arguing with. Peter Dinklage is cool.)

My rebuttal to that is, what the hell for? What's the point? After a while, it's like having an existential crisis. Who cares which Stark dies next? They're all going to die eventually, and so is everyone else, and after enough books, none of it will have mattered anyway, which brings me to my next point.

2) Nothing else matters either.

I think George R.R. Martin believes in his heart he's being terribly clever about the plots of his books. We get a lot of different perspectives on fictional geo-politics, which supposedly brings more realism to High Fantasy, a genre categorically defined by Tolkien's good-vs-evil conflicts. The problem is that George R.R. Martin is not terribly clever about his plots. He's not even a little clever. He ultimately seems to possess no real understanding of geo-politics at all, because no one in his books is actually trying to accomplish anything. 

The motivations Martin gives his characters are shockingly mundane. Starks all want to be good people, despite never really considering what it means to be a good person, or what the best way to be a good person might be. Lannisters want to take the throne, which doesn't make any sense, because they already control the finances of the kingdom and actually stand to lose quite a bit of money if they become the monarchs, because then they just owe themselves a lot of money, which in the end leaves them no one to gouge for repayments. The Targaryens start out wanting to reclaim their homeland after being deposed and exiled, but it gets more and more convoluted as the plot continues. In a nut shell, Martin's motivations all boil down to power for power's sake. Nobody really wants anything, they just want the ability to do anything they want, which isn't actually very much at all. 

Geo-politics can be really interesting, but it does require a writer with some understanding of what motivates national leaders and nations. Even Hitler, who really was planning to take over most of the world, had some idea of what he wanted done with the world afterward. 

3) Everyone who writes television seems to be taking cues from 'Game of Thrones'

This is a big one. Everyone everywhere seems to be trying out the 'Game of Thrones' model for their television show in the hopes of upping ratings. 'Downton Abbey' tried it by killing off some major characters this past season, and 'American Horror Story' decided that despite being a horror story, it was better to just throw a lot of narrative arcs together with no real protagonist. Both seem like weird approximations of Martin's ideas of plot, and none of them are particularly interesting to watch. Please, for the love of god, television writers, stop aping 'Game of Thrones' plot devices. 

You're not making television better, you're making story-telling worse (I love you, Mike Judge). 

Agree? Disagree? Want to fight about it? Leave a comment.

22 comments:

  1. It is deeply gratifying to find someone else who can't abide GOT. What a vast expenditure of talent wasted on--you tell me. Humorless space opera? Children's sword and sorcery tarted up for adults? Let's find the third person on the planet who shares our opinion, and we'll all shout "the emperor has no clothes!" at the same time.

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    1. Wow, this series shows the full banality of death. I wonder what facet of reality it's trying to... oh nevermind, it's just a prop to make fantasy seem more "adult", missing the point of the genre, I feel. I respect fantasy a lot more when it's true to it's almost inevitable quixotic basis.

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    2. I also hate it!
      The books, I only read thos. Dark fantasy should be about despair, sorrow, loss of hope, darkness never ending... Essentially, the last part of "Lord of the rings", dark souls and many other games, books and stories. G.R.R. Martin is rather immature, to think that sex and violence could ever replace brilliance. You may have sex and violence, but do not think that it gives any substance to a story line. And all of the characters are so boring, and not at all likable. I read these books to escape the boring people of reality and he presents me even more boring and unbearably annoying characters! All the motivations are weak and mundane, in such a way that there's not even a sense of despair in watching a decadent world, it's just a boring, pointless world I will never care about at all!
      It is immature, boring, and ultimately bothersome. There's no depth in it at all. Dark fantasy is what is found in Dark souls and many others.

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  2. this is my immitation of George R. R. Martin's plot for GOT:

    1. introduce character (mae that character semi likeable)
    2. character does something (bad or good does not matter)
    3. Kill character

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  3. Thank you for writing this!! I wrote my reasons too :

    http://spiritualbeast.blogspot.com/2014/02/why-i-hated-game-of-thrones.html

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  4. I'm on board with this completely, and I don't think it's an unusual opinion, since when I typed in "I hate G..." Google autofilled in Game of Thrones.

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  5. I agree! Give me Tolkien anytime or J.K. Rowling with characters one can like or hate! GOT is endless, mindless killing and powermonging - and some gratuitous sex thrown in!

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  6. I also hate Game of Thrones aswell;
    -It has an irrelevant and point-less "plot".
    -It only serves typical HBO cheap-porn (In which, instead of enjoying a good Epic Fantasy, it just blends in a whole-bunch of cheap porn and numerous killings).
    It's main "thrill" is just basically that: Main characters die offtenly and it has a bunch of cheap-porn; but where's the true plot?
    Where's the essence?
    We need the NEW; Innovation; not to rip-off other Epic Fantasies, mix it up with the common sexual themes.
    A true waste of time; read the books and watched the first season; hated it to death.

    I agree with your opinion.

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  7. Me too! As a big fan of the movies, "Pillars of the Earth" and "Lord of the Rings" - I read the books- and also "Excalibur" I was happy to watch GOT but only saw a few then not wanting to get left in the dark re: the "plot" I waited and recorded the whole season before season 2 started so I could be up to speed. I never got through it and erased the episodes from my DVR. Such a pointless waste of time. Who are these people? When is this supposed to be? There isn't any fabric of a sense of past that drives the future. Mostly missing is any structure of the important part religion, superstition, or core beliefs that drives greed, passion, and quests in life. Just sex , death, and crap. Lord of the Rings was fantasy but it had at it's core the many legendary mythic beings of early Europe that actually were part of pre-Christian beliefs and lore. Pillars was actually historically based during the Roman Catholic Pope's reign over the people and the building of huge Cathedrals as an attractant to their religion and the greed of the local Kingdoms that drove the alignment with the Church . I really don't get the hype for Game of Thrones!

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  8. When I heard that everyone just loved this "amazing" show I felt that I needed to watch it. I started watching the first season and tolerated each boring, seemingly pointless episode, forcing myself to continue. Towards the end of season 1 (i didn't make it very far) there was a scene where two men were arguing while one of them was actively gutting a large deer (elk, moose, i don't friggin know) As I began to zone out to avoid seeing the guts pouring out of the dead animal, I thought to myself "I don't have to watch this".

    From then on I was free

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  9. I cannot express the sense of catharsis I'm experiencing in discovering that I am not the only person in the world who thinks Game of Thrones should just die in a fire.

    Fuck Game of Thrones fans.

    (Although In truth I don't care what people like so long as they're honest about why they like it.)

    My problem with GoT is basically that everyone that watches the show refuses to acknowledge that it's a really a poor example of almost everything it sets out to achieve with special notice given to its abysmal achievements in storytelling.

    For Christs sake the plot is literally just killing characters off at evenly spaced intervals throughout the 'narrative'.

    The books I had always been able to pass off as just boring low end fantasy fiction lacking in enough creativity to fill an egg cup, but now that there's the televisions series and everywhere I go people are talking about, "how stoked they are for the new Thrones episode LOL" I feel like I'm losing my mind.

    Not to mention that HBO has clearly hired a 15 year old boy to write the fucking scripts.

    I am in no way opposed to boobies or general sexiness, except in the event that it has been inserted roughly into the narrative without the lubrication of narrative relevancy.

    And where are the penises? There should be more penises.

    I want a long take of some penises with that classically vague and pointless GoT style meandering bullshit dialogue in the background.

    Season 4 two part finale: Both parts all penises.

    Its like they take all of the scenes and put them on a dart board and then whichever three they hit they just put some people fucking in the background to keep you interested; it legitimately feels more like they're just hoping that if they keep flashing tits at you you wont notice that everything else about the show is poorly assembled and embarrassingly executed.

    I can't wait until this shit dies.

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  10. Thank God I've found someone who hates this show as much as me, and understands the reasons as well.

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  11. I've really tried. But I've found it boring and pointless. Thank God I'm not the only one.

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  12. It is boring to me I have gotten so much hate from telling people that but I don't care iI'm proud to say I hate it

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  13. I don't think I hate it, so much as I think it is not very good. What is the point of rooting for anyone in this series (whether on TV or reading the books) when that character will be killed off, usually in a gross and disgusting way? I just don't care for it. I have nothing against realism in TV, but this is just some kind of slasher porn. Is there any story without all the sex and graphic violence? I don't mind sex and graphic violence, but usually there is a good story that goes along with it.

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  14. YEEEEESSSSS!!! Thank you for the validation (although I suppose the fact that I needed it speaks volumes about me.) I don't have HBO so I can't comment on the TV series but I read the first book and thought,"Am I missing something? Should I be drinking Kool-Aid while reading this in order to enjoy it?" Barry's above comment about the Emperor's clothes is right-on.

    I have one rule while reading a book: am I getting something out of this? My leisure time is extremely valuable to me and I can't spend it reading drivel. Teach me something, develop a character and make me feel something, but for fuck's sake, don't waste my time. This world is scary and confusing and dark enough without spending my free time scrambling my sensibilities even more. I mean, isn't that what free time is for? Pleasure and enjoyment? Are millions of people really getting something out of this book series? I may be in the minority but I just don't enjoy under-developed plotlines and characters. Regardless of sex and violence, there has to be a full story with some kind of resolution in it for me. Thanks for the article and the comments; it's a relief to know there are a few of us out here.

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  16. I'm glad there's more people that hate this show as much as I do. I don't think I need to write any of my reasons since every single one of you already has.

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  17. Whilst I don't hate Game of Thrones, I do find I am indifferent to it. Character's deaths are habitually used as cheap plot devices with no real purpose other than to shock for shock's sake. Ned Stark, the red wedding etc etc. we get it... Martin lacks the skill to weave a decent story and drive an adult narrative so what we get is basically the Pokemon kids cartoon, but with CGI, death and tits.

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  18. With all my heart I with You Guys. It's awful that now such violence and stupidity became "normal". It's a bad sign. Very bad. What people like those who love this series could do in this world. It's all ugly and worthless.

    You can only be indifferent to GOT if you haven't seen it. When you see all this pointless repugnant violence you become sick and sad. I don't find naked women awful, but maybe we should see them through special media intended for interested and aware adults. But I don't understand the purpose of this inhuman violence.

    Vladimir, 30, Moscow

    p.s. Maybe today Moscow calls to your mind violence in Ukraine. But i won't even try to explain all misconceptions associated with politics, economics and society people all over the world (including Russia) have in their minds. Thanks to the mass media all over our "free capitalistic world" people are stupid, they don't understand or think too much. And now they love GOT. It's a great world, guys. It never was so hopelessly naive in its stupidity. Jesus wouldn't commend thit. Buddha, MuMuhammad wouldn't too. Feynman, Einstein, Planck, Newton and Poincare would love it even less. Ind I hate it as well. I hate it with all my mind and all my soul. This is not the world of sane human beings. And we all guys must do something about it. While we alive and while our loved ones too. Be they stupid or not i.e. wheter they like such movies or not. If You posess a working brain You must not let this world drown in shit.

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  19. i agree with your points with all my heart. i find the tv series somewhat enjoyable, because the people are pretty and settings are nice, but that's about it. as you said, there's literally no point in caring about anyone or anything. not many characters are more than two-dimensional, author desperately tries to make them more real but obviously can't let go of certain stereotypes. two more reasons why i dislike the books a lot: really bad writing style ("he smelled foul and sweet like flowers on a grave", "his coat soft and heavy like a sin"???? literally this is harlequin quality!), and the names. most of them are so forced and ridiculous, all in all atrocious.

    only thing i don't agree about is the Downton Abbey part; they only killed off those characters because of contractual reasons (Jessica Brown Findlay said from the beginning she wants to do only 3 seasons, and Dan Stevens also decided to back out). all the deaths were very meaningful, moving and well-written, apart from Matthew Crawley's death, but this one was the actor's choice.

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