“When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die.” ~Cersei Lannister
Even if you’ve never watched the show yourself, I’m certain you’ve at least heard of it. It has a fitting reputation of being “that show on tv with all the violence and sex.” While this is an accurate description, it’s not an all-encompassing one. The show has as much character development as it does carnage and naked women. I guess I’ll separate this post into two categories. One for “Why you should watch it if you don’t already” which will be spoiler free, and a second part that lets me just rant about all the spoilers and things I have to address. So now, let’s see what makes Game of Thrones (GoT) the massive success it is and why you should give it a shot.
One of the strongest points of the show is its characters. Plot can be absolute garbage (which thankfully it isn’t) and people will still watch a show with good characters. Just look at any sitcom. Most of the time, sitcoms don’t focus on or even need big plots because the only thing they chase is laughs. You don’t watch sitcoms because they tell the most interesting stories, you watch them because they’re funny. Though many sitcoms do have great plots too. But I’ve digressed. The characters in GoT are incredibly lifelike and inspire legions of fans to their sides or legions against them. Very few main characters are lukewarm. You’ll either love a character or despise a character, but rarely is a character just “meh.” Even if you’ve never watched, you might’ve heard some names dropped because of how much people like them. For example, Jon Snow. A staple character, I remember hearing things about him before I ever watched the show. Same with several others. I can say how awesome the characters are, but what good is that without an example? Let’s use Jon Snow again, one of my personal favorites.
Jon Snow is the bastard son of Eddard “Ned” Stark. “Snow” is the surname used for all bastard children born in the north who claim no family name. He grew up with Ned’s other children, Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon, like they were his real siblings, but always being treated differently because of his bastard status. Ned Stark is extremely honorable and passes that along to his children, especially Robb and Jon. Because Ned is one of the few people to not treat Jon poorly, Jon has a deep attachment to Ned and his teachings. But he has an issue with feeling neglected and isolated, almost victimizing himself and failing to see himself as anything other than a bastard, because that’s all anyone ever calls him outside his true friends. This culminates in a man who holds fast to honor, but can never fully trust anyone because he feels alone in the world. From there, his arc leads him to The Night’s Watch, a group of men who defend the continent at The Wall, which is just a massive wall across the top of the continent designed to keep northern invaders out. The Night’s Watch is a place where people go who have no place else to go, often because they’re criminals. As part of the Night’s Watch, all men must swear life long oaths to never abandon their post and never father children or love women, which is a good place for Jon to be. He’s surrounded by other outsiders and nobodies. But then his arc leads him to start finding himself and forging his own path, even if that means breaking the rules sometimes. His inner turmoil is really concerned with identity and loyalty and where he places that. To avoid spoilers, he really comes to terms with himself while maintaining his honor almost always and he changes from “nobody” to “noble hero.”
Anyway, one of my favorite things about the characters is their individuality. There are dozens of main cast members and hundreds of supporting characters, but none of them really feel like a copied character. The villains aren’t evil in the same way, the heroes aren’t all noble. Nobody is one-dimensional. Cersei, one of the most potent villains on the show, still has redeeming qualities despite her thirst for power and ruthlessness in achieving it. On the other side of the coin, the truly good make bad decisions and have qualities that make you question them. Jon Snow betrays several people on his journey, but he’s still the hero even if betrayal is bad. Something else that’s really interesting is the fact that multiple stories are being told in different locations all the time. It doesn’t follow a single person and their interactions with people, there are almost always two, three, even upwards of six or seven plot lines going at once. Seeing the characters from two different stories come together and intersect is fascinating. Daenerys hasn’t met 90% of the other characters.
What else makes the show good? The plots. This encompasses a lot of stuff, so bear with me. The show can get away with “boring” plots because there’s a lot of plot lines. While Cersei is just talking to people in King’s Landing, Jon Snow is fighting wildlings at The Wall. While Jon is arguing with his superiors, Cersei is cunningly poisoning her enemies. All the while Daenerys is conquering cities or flying around on dragons. I don’t think there are boring stories though. I relish the political story lines because they’re just so interesting to me, especially Cersei. She arguably holds the most power even though she’s no warrior. She’s a manipulator and she makes people do things for her. She’s constantly threatening even though she’d never survive a knife fight. The things people say in the show about getting what you want, interacting with people you don’t like, different ideologies, influence, feminism, it’s all intriguing, because it’s like watching a game of chess, if you were allowed to cheat in chess and the board was set for twenty different players. It involves a lot of mental and verbal sparring as much as it does hacking people apart.
The plots also involve a lot of twists and surprises, so every episode brings new and crucial information. It keeps viewers on their toes because they never know who’s going to do what or who’s going to die when. Most of the time, I’m on the edge of my seat just because I’m hoping a character I like isn’t about to be hurt or killed. It’s fascinating to see how everyone plays the game with their unique strategies, which frequently involves escaping by the skin of the teeth or heads rolling. Either way, it’s a very fast paced show, and when it isn’t it still keeps your adrenaline going.
And lastly, I’ll address the elephant in the room: the violence and sex. It is sometimes disturbing. The violence can be insanely gruesome at times. Beheading is not uncommon and the show doesn’t hold back. If someone is dying, chances are the camera will be right next to it giving you every bloody second of it. One guy even has his head crushed by someone’s hands. That’s the most disgusting thing I’ve seen on the show. But even though I don’t like the gore much, I think it’s more realistic. These are ways that people were killed back in the day. People attended public executions for entertainment. If someone is having their throat slit, you can bet there’s going to be a lot of blood, so GoT just shows it how it is. As for the sex, this is the complicated part. I’ve never seen so many boobs and vaginas in my life. Naked men are rarely shown, and when they are the furthest they tend to go is the butt. I could count the number of penises I’ve seen on two hands. For boobs and vaginas, I’d need a LOT more. But still, I apply the same philosophy to it as I do toward the violence. Brothels and prostitutes exist. People have sex a lot. In medieval times, it wasn’t uncommon to sleep around. The most disturbing thing isn’t the sex though, it’s the rape and sexual violence that makes me (most) uncomfortable. People criticize the show for “normalizing” rape, but it’s just being realistic. I don’t care if there are dragons and zombies, people are basically the same no matter what story they’re in. In this society, men are the dominant ones. Men are more valuable in society, and rape happens. It sucks and it’s horrible, but it does. Most rape is for characterization; its to make you uncomfortable and make a character more tarnished. If it’s not, then I see it as highlighting a problem. Not everything has a greater purpose; some people die senselessly or are raped without reason other than the man could do it. But the reason I like the sex scenes is because they’re meaningful. Development happens there. It makes the stakes higher because the people are vulnerable and open. I like the violence because it fuels my adrenaline to not know who’s gonna make it and see my heroes survive against the odds. It’s all a thrill.
All in all, this show has everything going for it. It can be funny, it makes a lot of statements about life and politics and religion and people and so on, it’s exciting and thrilling, the characters are lovable and love-to-hateable, and the stories are fascinating. There’s always something to talk about. It’s one of my top 10 favorite shows now, maybe even top 5. I highly recommend you give this show a shot.
But now lets talk spoilery stuff. I love talking about all the crazy things that happen on this show and I just have to rant about it sometimes, especially the characters. So let’s organize this in a top 10 kinda format just for ease. Maybe this can be more discussion based too, so drop a comment if you see something that you (dis)agree with.
Top 10 Characters
I named my car after this woman. I love her so much. She’s absolutely gorgeous, has an adorable accent, coined the iconic “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” made the cutest couple to date with Jon, was hilarious and feisty, but also really sentimental at the same time. She brought Jon out of his shell. When she learns about swooning, you can bet I’m swooning at her. Damn, I love this chick so much.
2. Daenerys Targaryen
Like Ygritte, she’s a badass. Most of my favorite scenes have her in it. She has my favorite arc to date because of her growing competency as a leader. She has had the most successes and its wonderful watching her grow with her dragons and conquer city after city and challenge after challenge. She’s the best leader in the show because she seeks counsel on what she doesn’t know and doesn’t waver in her convictions. She spreads freedom and commands everything, on-screen and off.
3. Jon Snow
Good ol’ Jon. See above for his characteristics, I just love the guy. He’s honorable and so pleasantly uncomfortable when Ygritte flirts and has really grown as a leader and man. His reunion with Sansa is one of my all time favorite moments on the show, as is his cradling Ygritte in his arms as she passes. We all need a hero to root for, and Jon is a great person. Not even death can stop him.
4. Tyrion Lannister
“The Imp” is the funniest character on the show! Not only that, but he’s remarkably clever and outsmarts almost everyone who dares to argue with him. He’s insightful and now beautifully loyal to Daenerys, which combines two of my favorite people, finally! Listening to him speak is just nonstop fun, especially when he makes someone else want to kill him. Clever dwarf.
5. Arya Stark
A girl is Arya Stark, and Arya Stark is a trooper like none other. Against all odds, and tragically without anyone knowing it, Arya has survived everything with wit and cunning and several badass assassinations. Her resourcefulness and perseverance and general badassery make her amazing. Killing Walder Frey and the Waif were so satisfying.
6. Sansa Stark
I wanted to like her going into it because I like defending feminine strength. While Arya is a tomboy, Sansa is a girly girl, but that doesn’t mean she’s weak. She survived King’s Landing surrounded by enemies, including Cersei and Joffrey. Now she’s growing to be a pragmatist and commander. Years of suffering have made her grow up into a very strong woman. Plus I have a thing for redheads (Ygritte)and Sophie Turner is just someone I feel very drawn to. Love me some Sansa!
7. Brienne of Tarth
It was so hard not to cry when Brienne said she felt like the most beautiful woman in the world at her dad’s ball. Everyone makes fun of her because she’s ugly, but she’s got a heart of gold and is loyal to a fault. Plus, she’s as tough as many man, even beating down The Hound in single combat. Mighty impressive. I also love how her journey with Jaime made her grow and offered him a chance to grow as well. It’s because of Brienne that I like Jaime really.
8. Jaime Lannister
He was a dick to begin with, but after being humbled and having his hand cut off, he really began to change. The scene in the bathhouse with Brienne is amazing and really humanizes him. After that moment, he started changing into a real family man, one who will do anything for those he cares about, even if it is his twin sister.
9. Jorah Mormont
Okay, he betrayed Daenerys, but we don’t know that until like season 4 or 5. I grew attached to him and he’s really shown himself to be loyal now. He fought so hard to get back into Daenerys’ favor and now he’s afflicted with Greyscale. Permanently friend-zoned and he’s in love with Daenerys. I hope he comes back cured or at least with Shireen’s halted Greyscale.
10. Robb Stark
What can I say? I love myself honorable heroes. I understand he may not have been cut out for the world, but it’s such a tragedy that he had to die because he dared to love someone. That was his only real mistake, and it cost him big time, but it’s hard not to love him. He fought for his family and loved his wife and commanded the loyalty of his troops. Just like Ned Stark, his honor and honesty got him killed, which just sucks.
Top 10 Saddest Deaths
1. Princess Shireen Baratheon
I liked Shireen. She was sweet and innocent and taught Davos how to read. She was kept from the world because of her Greyscale so she never really had friends, and then her dad has her burned at the stake? I bawled before it even happened because the thought of a little, innocent girl being killed so cruelly by her parents was too much. She didn’t deserve that fate.
For all the above mentioned reasons, I am in love with Ygritte. Her and Jon Snow needed to live out their days together in that cave. In the end, as much as she wanted to hate Jon, she couldn’t. She loved him, and he loved her. Then the little bastard Olly had to shoot her with an arrow and she gave that soul crushing speech and Jon just cradled her body… I still get choked up.
3. Catelyn Stark
No mother should EVER have to see their child die, much less killed by a once loyal friend. I don’t know what many people think of Cat, but I thought she was like Sansa: a strong and feminine woman. She died thinking every one of her children was dead or missing and that sucks big time. Hearing her agonizing scream and watching her just surrender is horrible.
4. Robb Stark
He just watched his wife get killed and his unborn baby stabbed to death, was shot with three crossbow bolts, and then stabbed in the heart by a friend, all while looking at his sobbing mother. If that wasn’t enough, Arya was just outside the keep and had to witness Robb’s headless body with his direwolf’s head sewn on. Effin’ brutal, man.
5. Ned Stark
The original death that would set the stage for how brutal this show could be. Nobody is safe. Painted as the main character and offed in the first season after the bitch king Joffrey had to show everyone why mercy was overrated. In front of his daughters too. This death started EVERYTHING, catapulting the entire continent into war. Plus, he was a good, honorable man. We know how I feel about those.
6. Margaery Tyrell
Beyond just loving Margaery, I thought this was an atrocious way for her to go. High Sparrow worthy, but not Queen Margaery worthy. Only the latest death in the show and I wasn’t sad as much as I was upset. The dumb High Sparrow forced her to stay when she knew full well something was up. She played the game as well as Cersei, and it really sucks she loses the game because of someone else. Seriously annoyed by this.
He went all that way and died a hero. The circumstances surrounding Wylis becoming Hodor were really sad, especially because his destiny was to hold that door. It’s like he had no choice, he was forced by the future and warging glitch. But his death was really well done. Saved Bran and sacrificed himself. #HoldTheDoor #RIPHodor
8. The Direwolves
I know they’re animals, but they’re representative of the Stark children. They were incredibly loyal to their respective children, and all of them so far have had sad deaths. Lady being senselessly killed because Joffrey is a bitch, Grey Wind because Walder Frey is a bitch, Shaggydog because the Boltons and Karstarks are bitches, and now Summer because the white walkers and their legions of skeletons are bitches. At least Summer went out defending Bran.
9. Talisa Stark
Talisa was a kind woman and a healer, but what made her death the most sad was the betrayal, and the fact that she was stabbed in her pregnant belly in front of her husband and mother and law. The Red Wedding was brutal, and it all started with poor Talisa Stark.
So Shae was kind of a bitch at the end of her days, but even still it was sad because Tyrion had to do it. Tyrion kept pushing her away until she chose to betray him in more ways than one. Tyrion really did love her and it can’t be easy to kill the one you love, especially in so close and personal a manner as strangling, feeling her body eventually just stop moving. Shae-m. Get it?
Top 10 Least Favorite Characters
1. Joffrey Baratheon
It goes without saying that this kid was probably the most despised character on GoT, with the possible exception of Ramsay. However, I thought he was worse than Ramsay because Joffrey’s sadism and psychopathy and general whining bitchiness were not altogether enjoyable for me to watch. The only time I enjoyed seeing him on-screen was when someone else was hurting him, insulting him, or (thankfully) killing him. Good riddance!
2. Ramsay Bolton
As a villain, I think Ramsay is Joffrey 2.0 in that he’s much more amusing and to an extent sympathetic. He’s a jerk and sadistic and does far worse things than Joffrey (raping Sansa for instance), but he’s also not spoiled, less whiny, more threatening, and altogether more enjoyable to watch as a villain.
I don’t care if his dad was murdered in front of his eyes. He killed my beloved Ygritte and then decided betraying Jon Snow was a jolly good idea on top of it. Maybe it makes me a terrible person, but seeing him strung up and hung gave me a twinge of pleasure. He was just a nuisance from the start.
4. Walder Frey
Red Wedding. ‘Nuff said. Although, Arya’s revenge on him was absolutely incredible and thank the Lord of Light he no longer plagues GoT.
5. The High Sparrow
I have a lot of mixed feelings about the High Sparrow because I don’t think he was entirely wrong, but he was fanatical. There was a lot of corruption in King’s Landing, but his methods didn’t do anything to wash it clean. You don’t cleanse violence with violence or imprisonment or “walks of atonement.” Plus, he was directly responsible for the death of Margaery, which is nigh unforgivable. The storyline was good, but frustrating as hell.
6. Viserys Targaryen
I only rank him this low because he was only in something like five or six episodes. True, Walder Frey has been in about the same, but over the course of 4-5 seasons. Anyway, I disliked this guy almost more than Joffrey. His treatment of his sister was abhorrent and although he was an orphan, talk about entitled. He wants things given to him, while Daenerys earns them. Big difference. His death though… cringe-worthy.
7. Alisser Thorne
From day one, this jackass was a thorn in Jon’s side. Without any apparent reason, Thorne made Jon’s life far more difficult than it needed to be. On the rare occasion he respected Jon, I was pleased. But then he went and had Jon killed so there goes all respect.
8. Roose Bolton
I’ll just say this: “The Lannisters send their regards.” Filthy soul. Plus he’s responsible for Ramsay being alive and the person he is to some extent.
9. Theon Greyjoy
Betraying Robb Stark after all that they’d been through was insane and cruel. I was generally pretty happy when Ramsay tortured him and snipped off his you-know-what. But now that my anger has subsided, all that’s left is his incompetency that went on for far too long. He has good moments like rescuing Sansa from Ramsay, but for goodness sake stop wallowing in self-pity and do something!
10. The Waif
This psycho was so snobby about being a better student than Arya in the House of Black and White. Thinks she’s so great and that Arya would be a piece of cake. That is until Arya turns the tables and uses the Waif’s training against her. Arya trained blind, nearly equaling a seeing Waif, so when Arya took away her vision, it was done. Just such a hateful character for no reason, though she probably did the least wrong of anyone on this list.
There’s so much more I could talk about, but maybe just ask if there’s anything not included in here that you wanna talk about. Season 3 is probably my favorite, followed by 6 and 4. I’d love to talk about characters I didn’t show in here because there are so many more than 10 great characters. Cersei, Tywin, Olenna, the Hound, Varys, Littlefinger, the list goes on! Anyway, that’s all. Let me know what you think about the show.