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Why Game of Thrones is a Bad Show 101

That’s right. HBO’s flagship program, the Emmy-winning universally hailed drama that has taken the television industry by storm for the past few years is just…bad.

No, this isn’t clickbait. No, this isn’t a piece that gives ironic reasons for our dislike of it, such as “we have to wait so long in between seasons!” When we say that Game of Thrones, by showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, is bad, we mean it in the strictest sense. It is lousy, substandard entertainment by just about every single metric other than the fact that it looks really, really nice and the actors are incredibly talented.

If you’ve been around The Fandomentals before, this isn’t going to surprise you. After all, we (Julia and Kylie) have not been remotely shy in voicing our distaste for the program, nor miserly in providing reasons why we feel this way. In fact, we just spent months going back through and watching/analyzing every single plotline of the most recent season, one at a time, to unveil just how odious it is. And yes, before you (dear reader) suggest that we could just turn off our TVs if we think it’s so terrible, the thought has occurred to us. We happen to find value in deconstructing the flaws, plus we wouldn’t even bother if it wasn’t such a critical darling.

However, as we are coming up on our third season now of being quite vocal detractors, we do recognize that a lot of what we write about GoT is not quickly accessible. For instance, we make jokes about “Larry and Carol Larroling all over the place,” and it makes perfect sense to us as biting commentary. But for everyone else… yeah; it’s meaningless. Moreso, when we’re at parties and happen to let it drop that we don’t like GoT, if we’re not allowed to hide in a corner with our mumbled “we just like the books hee hee”, we’re asked to bring out reasons. Sometimes those reasons aren’t very easy to articulate, especially to casual viewers. Mostly because there’s so many at this point. Where do we even begin?

We do want to say right now: we don’t blame anyone who likes GoT and we don’t think lesser of anyone who likes GoT. We recognize that most people spend their ten hours a year looking at it and finding it pretty cool. Heck, it’s fine even for people who rewatch it—ask Kylie who her favorite James Bond is. It’s not like we can’t enjoy pieces of media that aren’t Citizen Kane.

It’s just that with GoT, people treat it like it’s…worthy. Worthy of consideration, of praise, of awards. Yet what we’ve found to be the one constant of this show is that it falls apart under the most minute amount of scrutiny. It’s true, it is the easiest show in the world to “turn off your brain and enjoy.” At the same time, there are enough “deeper” concepts introduced that it feels intellectually engaging. So, we promise we’re not here to judge, especially since it can be quite enjoyable to try and think deeply about it and fill in the (many) blanks. We’re just here to disabuse anyone of the notion that this show, as a narrative in and of itself, is quality literature.

We also need to get something else out of the way: we like A Song of Ice and Fire. A lot. We’re not even going to talk about the books here, though. We’ve argued before that they have nothing to do with each other at this point, and even though we could easily whip out fifteen thousand words on how GoT is the perfect thematic opposite of the books it’s pretending to adapt, this isn’t the place. The show falls apart on its own merits without dragging its atrocious adaptational decisions into this.

Therefore, without further ado (we know), we present you with the 9 major reasons why GoT is an objectively bad television show.

1. The Setting is So Inconsistent it’s Rendered Worthless

One of the major appeals of GoT is its rich, deep world with so much texture and backstory. The map in the credit sequence is evidence of how much Westeros serves as a draw. And even though we just said we weren’t going to talk about the books, we do have to say that the the writers used the scaffold of George R.R. Martin’s world to establish the universe for the show. However, as time has gone on, that scaffold has begun to fall apart, and it’s a hazard for any contractors to set foot on now.

What’s nice is that the details of Martin’s setting are widely accessible to GoT fans, for those who want more engagement. Want to read about the Night’s Watch in greater detail? Well, Martin’s done that work, and you’re sure to find it on the exceedingly thorough Game of Thrones Wiki. Even HBO releases promotional material that provides deeper contexts for everything, like their “History and Lore” video about Dorne, where they mentioned absolute primogeniture as a notable feature of the land… only for us to never find out about it within the show-proper.

We’re not saying every aspect of Martin’s world should make it onto the screen. Not even close. We’re just saying that there is a convenient fallback to make up for otherwise shoddy worldbuilding. Worse still, this shoddiness is two-fold.

Firstly, the actual physical settings of Westeros and Essos on the show are inconsistent because there’s no attention to detail. This is easy enough to ignore if you choose not to think about it, but we have to guess even the most casual viewer thought it was a wee bit odd when Arya warped from Braavos to the riverlands in the final few episodes of Season 6, especially since most of the other characters had barely moved in that two-episode span. Or, even better, Varys warped from Meereen to Dorne and back onto Daenerys’s ships leaving Meereen, the last magical teleportation taking place in the span of ten minutes of screentime.

The more you know about the setting and the source material, the worse this becomes, but it’s not as though it’s imperceptible to everyone else.

Similarly, the timeline makes no sense. Since there are many characters that rarely interact, their timelines are pretty independent. But, once they get together, it’s always a mess.

For instance: Jaime traveling to the riverlands and taking care of the situation at Riverrun works fine in its own time bubble. However, when you have to place it against the events that take place in King’s Landing, what we’re left with is Jaime and an entire army traversing hundreds of miles when only a few weeks (at MOST) passed for his sister. Even if we say “oh this scene happened a month before the following scene,” there’s no real excuse to have that kind of chronological hodgepodge in one episode. Also…we knew before Jaime left King’s Landing that Cersei’s trial was right around the corner. They didn’t have to have Cersei say, “In a few days, he’ll have a trial for me” back in Episode 4 and create this confusion in the first place. The word “soon” was always an option, which we feel we shouldn’t have to point out to Emmy-winning writers.

Just take one glance over those scripts, eh?

This is one plotline, in one season. Remember when the Sand Snakes waved goodbye to the ship that carried Myrcella and Jaime and Trystane, and then Season 6 opened with two of them having warped onto it? Which after hours and hours of debate, we still can’t decide where the ship even was when this happened?

We’ve been told these are nitpicks before, and like we said, they are small enough that you can usually ignore them. Not that it’s a great excuse for the writers to be blatantly sloppy and/or lazy. But we also suppose it doesn’t ruin the immersion of viewers who happen to be less familiar with the military advantages of Moat Cailin than we are.

But that brings us to the second major flaw in how this setting is written: Westeros as a society does not make any sense. This is a show that has hidden behind the excuse of “historical realism” before. And yes, we know most people understand that this isn’t historical. However, there is a “reality of the world” that is often trotted out whenever there’s upsetting material.

“That said, when we decided we were going to do that we were faced with the question: If [Sansa’s] marrying Ramsay, what would happen on her wedding night? And we made the decision to not shy away from what would realistically would happen on that wedding night with these two characters, and the reality of the situation, and the reality of this particular world.” —Bryan Cogman

We will tackle the violence against women later, but the main point is, if Cogman is using this as a defense, and in doing so suggesting that what happens isn’t by definition gratuitous since it inherently offers commentary on the setting (and therefore the story as a whole), then the writing team better be prepared to follow-through on this and create a setting that could have meaningful takeaways.

They do not. We have come to call this the “magically disappearing patriarchy.” You see, from what we can tell, the setting adapts to the needs of a given scene, especially the tonal needs of the scene.

When a scene is dramatic, and dark, and shocking, the setting adapts so that these dark and shocking moments can come to pass, be it a woman being abused, someone being murdered, etc. When a scene is funny, the inconvenient aspects of this misogynistic, fundamentally violent society somehow fade away.

Our favorite example of this came last year when Sam visited Horn Hill. His father had previously been established as a terrifying, abusive figure, and there was nothing in the episode to change that impression either. Well, with one exception: the way the women of Horn Hill behaved. Sam’s mother and sister were sassy, rather assertive, and perfectly willing to stand up to Randyll Tarly at his table to vouch for a wildling woman, who they previously thought was a sex worker. There’s so many reasons this would never happen in the books, or even in an abusive household today, but what it did was sacrifice any sense of realism or patriarchy, if we may, for women standing up for themselves.

Which yeah, we know we sound crazy saying we don’t want women standing up for themselves and defending other women, except for the fact that the shit everyone else goes through on the show only works if women are consistently disempowered in this kind of situation. The world where Sansa gets raped because that’s “what would happen” on a wedding night with Ramsay conflicts with a world where the abusive, martial Randyll Tarly is dressed down by his wife at his own table. And there’s no indication that this is abnormal behavior on her part, by the way. She walks off and Randyll comments on what a “fine woman” she is. Just a few scenes after this, Walder Frey pulls a terrified child bride onto his lap. Why is the “reality of her world” night and day compared to the empowerment at Horn Hill?

We mean… Yahhs queen, but actually how?

The big trouble with this is, of course, that there’s a space for apology for any woman who suffers. If Sam’s mother is free to stand up to a completely terrifying guy, then why couldn’t Sansa have asserted herself more to prevent that stupid marriage-for-revenge plot? How can any woman’s challenge of the patriarchy truly mean anything when the writers don’t seem to understand what the patriarchy is and how it actually affects human beings?

Don’t even get us started on the Dothraki. 

#2. Characterizations are Inconsistent

Once again, we aren’t talking about as adaptations. It’s true, these characters are so wildly different from their source material counterparts that we have an entire system of nicknames devoted to separating them in our minds, but that’s for another day.

Rather, we mean that characterizations are inconsistent against each other. Sometimes it’s just a matter of season-to-season resets. However, for some poor characters, we actually have no clue how they’re going to behave in a given scene because it’s based entirely on the needs of the plot.

Cersei is our favorite example, because she amuses us the most. For the large bulk of the show, she was portrayed as a rather reasonable woman. She had her moments of horribleness, like in “Blackwater”, and we were often times told how awful she was by everyone else around her (especially Tyrion). But from at least Season 4 onwards it’s really hard to view her actions as particularly bad. Sure, she pushed for Tyrion’s execution more than the audience would have preferred, but at the same time, there was no indication that she wasn’t sincere in her belief that he poisoned Joffrey. Additionally, Cersei’s entire plotline seemed to revolve around getting unbelievably negative feedback just for being a [somewhat] politically ambitious woman, while her son was being actively abused by Margaery, the Tyrells were twirling their mustaches at her, and she received a threatening snake-in-the-box message from Dorne that demonstrated her daughter’s life was in danger.

Really, from Season 5 on, we’ve found the marketing surrounding Cersei utterly mystifying. We keep on being told that she’s evil, and would do anything for power, and yet up until the very last episode of Season 6, that’s simply not the story on our screens. We go into this in quite some detail here, but she really just gets screwed over by every single person she tries to talk to, all while very reasonably working to protect her children from real and active threats to their persons. Despite never being taken seriously and everyone being mean to her. Cersei, ironically, was one of the most consistent characters, at least for two or three years.

Then she blew everyone up.

She blew everyone up, she wine-boarded a nun, and she smirked and drank in her Outfit of Supreme Evil™. While this was certainly seeded by the promotional materials, as well as a few clunky lines, like Tommen saying Cersei would totally have murdered Prince Trystane (what?), this wasn’t in-line with the character we had seen on our screens. At all. We understand that “Evil Queen” is an easy trope to fall back on, but there actually needs to be evil stuff happening to justify that. What, she was slightly rude to Margaery once and therefore her violent bender was the only natural conclusion?

Still, for those convinced by the marketing, or who would just view it as Cersei finally reaching her breaking point, there’s the case of Sansa. At the end of Season 4, Sansa lied to the Vale Lords and donned an Outfit of Supreme Empowerment™ (very different) because she was now a shrewd player, using her intuition and manipulative abilities to get what she wanted. In Season 5, she kept the outfit for a bit, but was suddenly a complete idiot, incapable of asking very basic questions about Littlefinger’s plan for her to marry Ramsay Bolton to…get revenge on the Boltons. Then she was stripped of all narrative agency until Theon rescued her.

Well, cue Season 6, where there was literally no way to tell how Sansa would behave in a scene. Would she be awesomely assertive? Would she be ineffectually assertive? Would she just sit in the corner fuming for no reason when we had already seen her be awesomely assertive in the exact same situation? Would she stand there and forget all the forms of courtesy? Would she be grinning in delight at violence?

Before you give us any “multi-faceted character” shit, no. Just no. If we can’t even predict what Sansa might bring to a scene, that is a failure of a character. Tell us one reason why she was able to use her voice and mention military movement in “The Door”, but in “Battle of the Bastards” was rendered mute? Give us one reason why she vacillated from telling Jon he should take the Lord’s chambers in Winterfell, to in the very next scene looking miffed that he was made king. Did she not consider that she was the Lady? Was this a problem for her? Why was she muted for a second time?

Use your words, Sansa!

And again, these are just the couple we’re focusing on. Why does Arya suddenly begin rolling her eyes around Braavos and snarking at the end of Season 6? Why does Theon spend an entire season reconnecting with the Starks and doing right by them only to fuck off for no reason? Why does Davos forget to ask a single question about Shireen after clearly spending multiple seasons loving and protecting her? Why does Jaime and Cersei’s relationship reset at the beginning of each season? Why does the High Sparrow spend two years as a shrewd political manipulator only to suddenly become a complete idiot and ignore Cersei attacking his own men just in time for her to bomb the whole sept?

Also, if anyone can come up with an adjective to describe Meera, we’d be appreciative. And no “brunette” is not enough.

#3. The Few Consistent Characters are Stagnant or Caricatures

There are a few notable exceptions to the “who are these people and how will they behave?” rule.

Tyrion, for instance, is a character that’s exceedingly consistent. He is perfect. Everyone who’s good agrees that he’s perfect. Everyone who is bad, doesn’t like him, or tells off-screen dwarf jokes. There was half a second this past season that we thought Tyrion was being challenged because the slavers still attacked Meereen, but no. They were going to anyway, and only Tyrion had the answer for how to beat them in the end.

We think it’s great that Tyrion is such an unproblematic fave, but to us, he’s the most boring and literal Mary Sue that’s ever graced our screens. The show is, in many ways, a series of bad things that happens to him, and how he overcomes them just by being awesome, or by random people being randomly wonderful to him.

Who is this man and why is he freeing slaves in this fighting pit?

It’s true; he drinks and he knows things. And that’s all one needs know about his character, because there’s sure as hell not any more depth to it.

Speaking of Sue tropes, there was a Villain Sue that was something of Benioff and Weiss’s favorite for the past couple of seasons. We speak of Ramsay Bolton, whose only defining trait was how badass he was in his evilness. We’d get scene after scene reminding us of this. Oh, thought that old lady might help Sansa? Fooled you! He flayed her. Thought Sansa had the upper hand in a dinner conversation? Fooled you! He knew just when to bring out Theon. Thought Osha might be able to stab him? Fooled you! Also, let’s spend three full minutes of screentime for him slaughtering Fat Walda and her baby.

“Ramsay is actually kind of a badass. Like Ramsay fights…yeah.” —Benioff & Weiss

There was a hint at *something* beneath the surface with his relationship to Roose. This raises the question of why they’d even try to flesh out someone who’s clearly just a rapist asshole. But it’s hard to call this attempt a success. Ramsay was awesome in his evilness, and Roose was reasonably impressed, until the scene required that he wasn’t impressed. He went from praising Ramsay fighting off Stannis to yelling at Ramsay for his mistreatment of Sansa, as if the whole marriage had been Ramsay’s idea.

Really, there was just nothing interesting about Ramsay. He was evil. We get it. He also took over our screens for an incredibly long time, and in the end, he wasn’t even hoisted by his own petard. He was screwed over by a randomly materializing army. (Unless we want to pretend that the only motivation Sansa had in fighting for her home was being raped, which is bag of worms for another day.)

Who else is consistent? Well, there’s that one plucky swordfighter who always tells bawdy jokes. Bronn! Wait no, Daario! Wait no, Sandor! In fact, Sandor has been so badly Flanderized at this point, that he’s a walking chicken joke meme. Sure, he’s consistent, but is this really a character worth sinking any effort into? There’s nothing to unpack here.

The Waif was also a consistent character. She was a violent asshole who hated Arya. For…reasons.

Sorry, forgive us for not falling in love with these guys.

4. Character Arcs are Messes at Best, but Usually Nonexistent

Our previous two points did touch on this, but one of the biggest problems is that even despite these characters’ personality flaws (that give us adequate pause), they don’t even change or evolve naturally. They can’t when their personality has either completely stagnated, or is based on plot-demands. However, it might surprise you to also learn how completely meaningless their adventures have been.

For example: remember when Jon was dead? He was dead. Died. Gone. We’d think this might have an impact on his character, but aside from moodily eating soup for a scene, it was completely impalpable. It gave him an excuse to quit the Night’s Watch (kind of), but otherwise, he just…led an army. Maybe he was supposed to be angrier or broodier than normal, though he seemed just as brooding in Season 1 to us. He swung his sword at Hardhome as well as he did at Winterfell.

He was made king too, so you’d think he did something to earn that, or grew into some kind of leadership position, but no. He just ignored all good advice and marched an incredibly smaller force face-first into an obvious trap set by Ramsay, getting everyone killed in the process (until Sansa showed up and saved his stupid ass). He didn’t earn that rescue any more than his kingship, but hey. Cue that emotionally significant music in the final scene all the same.

Aw, we remember that cello melody from back when things made sense, too!

Guys, this is the protagonist of the damn show. What was his arc? What was his arc the year before? “These xenophobes sure don’t like wildlings and aren’t very genre savvy?” We’re thrilled that he finds new ways to swing his sword every year, and that we were given an on-screen reason for Kit Harington’s haircut, but that’s not actual growth.

Arya is the other example we’d like to highlight, because never before have we experienced a training montage where nothing results from it. Imagine if at the end of Season 4, Arya had gone to the Twins and killed Walder Frey, baking his sons into pies and slitting his throat. Can you see it? Yes, because it’s as plausible for her character to have done it then, as when she did it in Season 6. We suppose her two-season vacation to Braavos allowed her to learn how to apply faces (a skill learned off-screen, of course), but she didn’t actually learn anything about herself there. Only that she didn’t want to join a stupid guild whose members’ only activity was smacking her with a stick. We didn’t need two seasons to tell us why she wouldn’t have been into that.

We have already gone through and thought deeply about each character to this extent (hint: Sam has also not had any development since Season 3!), and we encourage you to do the same, but we don’t want to belabor the point. The only character we can even think of that grew in the past two years was Olly. This isn’t a joke. He shed his idealization of Jon, and that’s more than we can say about a single other person on this roster.

#5 The Plotlines Don’t Make Any Sense

Hoo boy. This is the section that we’ve been the most apprehensive to write, because how on earth to you tell someone that the entirety of the show they’re watching is devoid of logic? And again, we don’t want to put blame on the viewers. The greatest success of GoT is giving off the appearance of a smart show. With regard to the plotlines, the writers have a way of masking contrivances and a lack of reasoning as complexity.

The best examples of these—as we fondly call them—Idiot Plots are probably in King’s Landing, especially for the past two seasons. This one in particular is where you can wave your hands and go “ohhhh, complex political machinations,” without actually thinking about how little any of it makes sense and how it all depends on characters not behaving rationally, or acting on information there was no way they could possess.

For example, early in in Season 5 Cersei summons Littlefinger “most urgently” from the North because she has to consult with him right after she first meets with the High Sparrow. These summons are of such great importance that he has to ditch Sansa with the Boltons to high-tail it down there. Before he gets there, Cersei randomly arms the Faith and suggests that they arrest Loras. Then, Littlefinger arrives and they have nothing to say to each other that relates to any of this. They talk about how sucky Lysa Arryn was, Cersei asks if her alliance with her ally who came running at her word is still intact, and Littlefinger proposes becoming Warden of the North. None of this has anything to do with the Tyrells or the Faith. He points out arming them wasn’t wise, but that’s the extent of it.

Later, Cersei gets Margaery to walk into a perjury trap set by the High Sparrow, who was a lawyer for some reason, because she knew that Margaery would lie about her brother’s sexual relations with his squire. Because apparently Littlefinger had convinced said squire (slash sex worker) to confess to having sex with Loras. We think. He at least mentioned to Olenna that he gave Cersei a “handsome young man”, and had no reason to be lying in that moment.

But here’s the thing: Cersei couldn’t have known about Olyvar or that Littlefinger had any control over him before Littlefinger arrived (and before she armed the Faith), unless she somehow already had been told about Olyvar and that she would therefore need Littlefinger to persuade him, but decided to have Loras arrested on spec anyway, because… ? How did she know that arming the Faith would lead to a perjury trap that would then save her son from his active abuse at the hands of Margaery? There’s shrewd and there’s “I read the script and knew what would happen.” Plus, this was the best plan she came up with? One that required burning the entire legal system to the ground, when she had otherwise proven herself very capable at governance (like sending Mace off to treat with the Iron Bank, which ended very well for them)?

Forgive us for the nicknames and “Handsome Young Man” shorthand. We have fun here.

Season 6 didn’t make a hell of a lot more sense. We wrote an entire essay on how fundamental the illogic was in Cersei’s actions, the High Sparrow’s actions, Margaery’s actions, Olenna’s actions, and especially Jaime’s actions—our hero who planned to revolt against the religious leader of the city without first securing the goddamned king or even checking where the rest of the kingsguard was.

In fact, we can’t even pretend that Cersei had this season-long big boom planned, because Olenna goadingly says, “You’re surrounded by enemies, thousands of them. You’re going to kill them all by yourself?” in Episode 7! Don’t make us go into the idiocy of Cersei murdering a member of the Faith when summoned to meet with the High Sparrow, only for him to summon her to meet in the final episode and be shocked when she doesn’t show up. And then he orders his key witness to go get her. Great plan.

We think it’s great that critics have at least been able to point out how the Dornish plotline makes no sense. Killing your own family to get revenge on the people who killed your own family? Brilliant! But what we’re saying is that it was completely par for the course. It’s just that Dorne didn’t have really fancy sets or Lena Headey to hide behind.

You know what else made no sense? Sansa being raped. Like, okay, Ramsay is evil and would probably rape anyone on his wedding night. But let’s talk about what we fondly call the “Sansa Marriage Strike.” Because, you see, the whole reason that Sansa was shoved into that stupid plotline was because she was trying to get revenge on the Boltons. Let’s ignore the fact that Stannis was marching towards Winterfell and expected to win, so she and Littlefinger could have just waited in the Vale to make sure that was the case, where it was safe and she was well-liked by the Vale Lords.

Sort of seemed like she wanted to anyway…

Please tell us how marrying your enemy and thereby legitimizing their claim to what should be your lands and castle is in any way an act of revenge. We’re waiting.

Littlefinger tossed out the lame “make him yours” aspect, but…what? Sansa is giving the Boltons her claim. Even if Ramsay was the nicest husband in the world to her, how does this help the Starks at all? How does this help her on a personal level? She’ll have babies with a man she “made hers” and that’s somewhat nice? A man who is from the family that KILLED HERS?

We will never get sick of talking about how illogical everything is on this show, so to spare you, we’ll direct you once again to our retrospective tag. Find out why Davos and Thorne were playing football over Jon’s corpse! Oh wait…we still don’t know!

#6 The Devil’s in the Details

As a quick point, while the macro-beats of the story make no sense, never fear: the micro-beats don’t either. There’s that consistency we’ve been craving!

We get that some of what we’re about to say are nitpicks, but the writing of GoT betrays, if nothing else, a complete lack of care. Some things have been picked up by astute fans along the way: how many Lannister necklaces are there? How does Arya know to cross off people on her list before news of their deaths could have reasonably reached her? Why did we never hear Theon’s dwarf jokes? Why did Bran choose to go back to the tower flashback after narrowly escaping the Army of the Dead and becoming the Three-Eyed Crow?

However, there’s a lot of smaller things we can point to as well, and this is across every plotline.

Let’s just stay in King’s Landing, because it never gets old for us. Why did Lancel go chase a little boy when he was tasked with bringing Cersei to the sept for her trial? Why did Qyburn tell Pycelle “sometimes before we can usher in the new, the old must be put to rest” when Cersei seemed to have wanted to keep Tommen alive, and therefore on the throne? (Also she’s been queen for 20 years—she’s the outside candidate?) Why did Qyburn stop Pycelle from going to the sept where he’d have blown up in the first place just to give him a special death, especially since “you do not deserve to die alone in such a cold, dark place”? Jeeze, he could have died in a warm explosion with his buddies!

Why does the king have absolutely no one guarding him? Why was the High Sparrow rushing to start Loras’s trial before the King of Westeros was there? Why was the High Sparrow holding the audience to this trial captive when they wanted to leave? How did Cersei extract Septa Unella, who had been tailing Margaery for half the season, without a single person noticing? Why was Cersei not being tailed by a septa? Why did nobody care that there was a zombified Gregor Clegane marching around with Cersei? 

Let them out! Let them out!

And this is just for one musical sequence in one episode!

Granted, we have a lot of fun with some of the sloppiness in the same way we have fun watching Mary Kate & Ashley movies, but this isn’t exactly a sign of quality media.

#7 “Shocking moments” are Really Just Unearned 180°s

“It’s easy to do things that are shocking or unexpected, but they have to grow out of characters. They have to grow out of situations. Otherwise, it’s just being shocking for being shocking.” —George R.R. Martin

Oh Game of Thrones. You twist-master! However, much like M. Night Shyamalan, the shocks that started working out fairly well have become…something else.

In the first few seasons, coincidentally when the show mostly aligned with the book series, the surprising moments made a lot of sense and felt like true twists, without any contrived-nature to them. Ned’s death is probably the finest example, because conventional storytelling would dictate that he lives. Similarly, you expect the wife and son to avenge him, making the Red Wedding doubly shocking, even if all the writing was on the wall when you go back and think about it.

Compare this to Arya poofing across the globe and murdering two men off-screen, taking over a kitchen (somewhere) and baking them into pies, and then feeding them to Walder Frey, who was randomly sitting alone in his giant feast hall during a giant party. This was certainly surprising to us. It’s impossible for it not to be surprising, because…what? How was this moment earned? We can be very fair and say it was foreshadowed because of her list, but if this means that she’s just going to apparate behind her targets and stab them, then that doesn’t exactly make it meaningful.

However, the writers seem so enamoured of shocks, or perhaps so pressured to live up to their reputation as the guys who write shocking television, that they’ll go out of their way to set up a certain situation, just so that they can pull the rug out from viewers in a 180° spin.

Our favorite example of this is with Myrcella’s death. In Episode 9 of Season 5, Ellaria Sand seemed to be very regretful and humbled in her conversation with Prince Doran after a botched attempt to kidnap (or murder?) Myrcella. Then she went on to have a really nice conversation with Jaime about “love is love”, where there is absolutely no hint of duplicity. So in the next episode, where she’s saying goodbye to Myrcella with affection and wishing her well, there’s absolutely no reason why any viewer who’s paying attention to what’s on the screen would think this isn’t sincere.

Except FOOLED YOU! Myrcella dies, and right after having a really nice, touching scene with Jaime, just to twist that knife more. Did this surprise us? Of course it did, because it was sitting in contention with what we saw on the screen. If there had been any hint of something, then okay, but unless we’re supposed to just have intuited that Ellaria is a world-class actor worthy of Indira Varma, there was no way anyone could predict this.

We kind of suspect Varma didn’t predict this either.

Shireen’s death bore some uncomfortable similarities in a tonal 180° as well. What a fun parallel between these dead girls!

Cersei’s sept explosion certainly was shocking. But to that we direct you back to point #3, because yes, it was shocking to see a reasonable and put-upon character suddenly become a mass-murderer who cared more about torturing a nun than checking on the well-being of her child who probably would have been emotionally affected by said mass-murder.

Other shocks include: Sansa being raped after her scene of assertiveness in the bathtub, Sam coming back for Gilly after reasonably saying goodbye at Horn Hill, Ellaria up and murdering Doran, Daenerys burning down a building and smirking as the flames enveloped her, Lord Umber randomly delivering Osha and Rickon to Ramsay because he liked his kinslaying, Jon being declared King in the North for his incompetence, a crossfade from the baby to Jon’s face that had no consequences in the story at all or to the character discovering it, everyone the Hound had been hanging out with dying, Drogon randomly appearing around a cliff after being too sleepy to help out his mother…

We’re getting bored from all these surprises.

8. It’s All Meaningless

Here’s the thing: there are plenty of pieces of media we love that don’t mean anything; it’s a little hard to think too deeply on the biting commentary provided by The Man with the Golden Gun (never trust a sidekick with a shapely butt?). But that doesn’t mean the entertainment value is any less real, even if it’s a tad ironic in nature at times.

However, in the case of GoT, there is a tendency by viewers and critics to think of it as meaningful. There are entire academic books about the condition of women and what the takeaway is (it’s nothing…see point #2), or how Euron is the most effective critique on Trump that we’ve seen to date. There’s also plenty of discussions of the epic *themes* surrounding the show. We even remember reading a critic gushing about Tyrion spotting that dragon in Season 5, and how meaningful it was in the context of his arc, because he had been at rock bottom. But…why is it meaningful? It was hopeful for him? It was cool to see? We know Peter Dinklage played the scene as if it affected *something*, but it takes more than swelling music for the audience to actually gain something from this.

Take the final sequence where Cersei blows up the sept. The beginning was filmed in such a way that you could tell it was meant to be deep. We got slow close-ups of everyone getting ready. Look, the stays on Margaery’s dress are being tightened…meaningful! We only see the back of Tommen’s head at first…meaningful! But like we described in #6, the entire set-up was out of nowhere and relied on one mind-numbing contrivance after the next. So how was this meaningful?

Looks nice though

We’re not saying that there isn’t a central message to GoT, because the pattern of the storytelling makes it clear that there is. It’s just one, and it’s incredibly simple: everything is bad and you should feel bad. GoT relies on a nihilism that was considered incredibly deep eighteen years ago when Fight Club came out. But at this point, and especially in this political climate where there’s nothing particularly constructive about embracing a doom-and-gloom futility, it’s hard to say it adds much to our cultural conversation.

Yes, things suck in Westeros in the books. And this is a hard setting for anyone to be having a bonny ol’ time, especially if you’re in any way marginalized. But the problem is that the narrative of GoT doesn’t provide commentary on that, or hold up a lens to the inherently hypocritical and unsustainable nature of such a world. Rather, it points to “look how dark things are” and leaves it at that, while at the same time seeming to take a perverse pleasure in punishing any viewer that cares about a person or place.

There’s multiple examples of this, enough to the point where Fandomental editor Gretchen needed to update her original piece on GoT and acedia, and we certainly don’t want to rehash everything. Rickon almost making it to Jon is a very good example of “haha you moron, did you have hope for three seconds?” But the one we find the most blatant has to be Sandor (the Hound) spending time with happy church-builders in the episode “The Broken Man”.

So innocent. So happy. We hope nothing awful happens to them.

There, Sandor met Septon Ray, who spends the entire episode telling him why he should reject violence and live a peaceful life, as well as why there’s always a second chance for those who wish to reform and push towards healing. Except no! That septon was an idealistic idiot. And he died. Along with all the unnamed Shire-folk who had done nothing but skip gaily around the maypole all episode. Sandor was proven right in his nihilistic worldview, and then went on to be such a hoot of a character, chopping people’s groins with his axe for comedic effect. We can’t make this up; there was an entire joke based around him stealing boots from a still-twitching hanged man.

This goes back to our point about 180°s, of course. The audience needs to have the rug continually tugged from under them, and it needs to be PAINFUL so we can all bask in the grand maturity of this show.

But…what does this do? Because all we’re left with is a story where it’s perfectly legitimate to root for the White Walkers. At least they don’t burn their children alive—they’ve got a great adoption program, from what we can tell.

This is furthered by the fact that there’s really no distinguishing between the actions of the good guys and the bad guys in most cases, apart from HBO’s marketing. For instance, Daenerys burns down a religious institution/entire culture’s social structure to gain followers, and she’s such a badass that we cheer for her. Cersei does the exact same thing, facing far worse odds than Daenerys had of survival we might point out, and she’s a villain. Because…she has black shoulder pads?

And while we’re at it, how is Olenna any better than Cersei, to the point where she’s able to call her “truly vile”? Remember when she murdered Joffrey, and how she’s now wanting revenge on all her enemies? Sounds kind of familiar. If this hypocrisy was called out, then we’d give credit, but it’s not!

Everything is the same on this damn show. The world sucks, and people act in violent ways to have badass moments. If not for the music and costume changes, we’d have no way of knowing how to feel about anything. Worse still, moments of empathetic connection go horribly punished (looking at you, Lady Crane), and for the most part, everyone is instantly mean to each other, especially women (looking at you, people of Braavos who ignored a bleeding girl in the middle of the streets). We get it, our protagonists—whoever we’re told they are—are up against really shitty circumstances. But this is the opposite of depth.

A wise man once said, “The battle between Good and Evil is a theme of much of fantasy. But I think the battle between Good and Evil is fought largely within the individual human heart, by the decisions that we make.” That wise man was George R.R. Martin, and the point he was making is that the important part of a narrative is not that bad things happen, but it’s that the characters have meaningful reactions to what they experience.

Really, from a Doylist perspective, there’s no point in writing a story where shitty things happen if you’re not going to do anything with that. It’s just offering up dark, grim violence for the audience to voyeuristically consume. That’s not deep; it’s pornographic.

And we’re sorry, but soaking in all this darkness…that’s a privilege. For a lot of us, we don’t need these reminders. Because:

#9 The Social Implications are Horrendous

Yup, here it is. We know that this is where we’re going to lose a lot of people. In fact, we know that there are many who would say we should keep those “social justice” arguments out of a critique. After all, the show falls apart on its own merits as an artform, and even as a coherent narrative.

We think that’s asinine. Especially for a show with such a large audience, as well as pull within the TV industry. Other writers look to GoT as the biggest success, and seek to copy its formula. Not to mention, media isn’t created or consumed in a cultural vacuum. Shows and movies create the forums in which cultural conversations happen, and to ignore the very real-world implications of those pieces of media is irresponsible.

That said, this section could be a piece in itself. In fact, Kylie wrote a series of 3 essays tackling the sexism in Season 6 alone, Zach did his best to take on ableism and homophobia with just two characters of the show as examples, we needed an entire two sections in our Meereen Season 6 retrospective to thoroughly explain the racism in both Tyrion and Daenerys’s plotlines, and we still fell short of being able to comprehensively look at the ageism, the ableism (though we tried with Hodor-gate), and utterly pervasive anti-religion aspects of the show.

We realistically can’t lay this all out here, or else no one is ever getting through this piece. If you want to take a deep dive, please click the links in the paragraph above. No, we don’t think GoT is sexist because there’s violence against women. This is something we should all be talking about more, and we praise shows that handle the topic with the sincerity and severity it deserves. GoT does not do anything close to that. Not to mention, men who happen to be victimized in this narrative are completely ignored, or treated as jokes. 

We don’t think this show is racist because people of color are marginalized in Westeros. We think it’s racist because it accidentally endorses colonialism and takes in-verse stereotypes at face-value. Ableism? PTSD is treated as an inconvenience, mental disabilities are treated as giant mysteries that need solving, and physical differences are treated as punchlines (remember when Jaime stopped a sword with his golden hand?). Homophobia is all about the straight people while Loras silently suffers, or Yara is made into a big gay stereotype (and an accidental rapist). And the brown, hypersexualized bisexual Ellaria Sand who is so violence happy that she murders an innocent straight white girl with a kiss really isn’t doing the show any favors either.

There’s always room for us to keep going. Even Season 6, which was meant to solve their “woman problem”, was full of misogynistic assumptions and molds for “empowerment.”

It’s a major problem. It’s actually about fifty problems rolled up into one, but we’re trying to be efficient here. Your entertainment doesn’t have to come with a side of racist misogyny, we promise.

And we’re not saying that anyone who doesn’t notice this pattern is a horrible person either. We’re just saying to please not silence the voices of those who have noticed it, and who don’t find it acceptable. Because really, why should it be?

So…Now What?

We know that throughout this piece, we made a lot of sweeping statements, such as “nothing makes sense.” But the thing is, we arrived at each of these points after careful and thorough contemplation. Do you know that we once loved this show? And we really, really wanted to keep liking it? With GoT, however, once the wool is pulled from your eyes, there’s no putting it back. Not only is any benefit of the doubt or suspension of disbelief gone for us, but we find it almost unthinkable that it still exists for others.

We recognize that for that reason, we’re coming from a different viewpoint. To reiterate: we don’t blame anyone for liking the show, nor do we want to necessarily discourage that. What we do want to discourage, however, is anyone acting like this show is the greatest thing since The Sopranos. Call it a ‘guilty pleasure’, fine, but we fundamentally don’t understand treating it as anything else.

We’re also confused as to why many of the critics that rave about GoT are the same critics who were counting gallons per minute on Breaking Bad, or giving the rather popular Iron Fist the tearing apart it deserves. And sure, there are critical pieces on Sansa’s rape, plus almost no one has been able to muster any enthusiasm for Dorne. We don’t want to pretend that the show is completely beyond criticism. It’s just not getting the level scrutiny it deserves by any stretch of the imagination.

That’s why we’re here, and that’s why we’ll continue to be here. We hope you join us as we continue to have our fun, while taking this show to task. Because it’s not just about Sansa’s wedding night or Ellaria stabbing Doran. It’s about the foundation of utter illogic, incoherence, inconsistency, and nihilism told on the backs of marginalized individuals.

You can find enjoyment in shows like this. Heck, even we find enjoyment in commenting on Game of Thrones. We’d just never think for a second to call it “good.”

Images courtesy of HBO


Kylie is a Managing Editor at The Fandomentals on a mission to slay all the tropes. She has a penchant for complex familial dynamics and is easily pleased when authors include in-depth business details.


Julia is a Managing Editor at The Fandomentals with far too many hobbies and complex emotions. She may or may not be an actual Martell.

Voted Thanks!
  • Matthew

    I’m gonna print this and nail it to HBO’s headquarter’s doors and sign it as “George R R Martin Luther”. Then I’m doing that at Entertainment Weekly’s office as well because why not?

    • Fish

      James Hibberd’s door please. Man is the defining GoT groupie

    • Maybe Steve the Intern will do that for us. We believe in you, Steve!

  • Elsa

    This piece deserves standing ovations.
    It’s a perfect summary of everything that’s wrong with GoT.
    I have half in mind to mail it at all my show-lover friends, share it on my Facebook page, blog, etc.
    Whenever someone asks me why I don’t like GoT, I’m just gonna link this.

    • Not going to lie, that was half our motivation in writing it. Now we can just shoot the link and go back to the guac at parties

  • Connor

    This article is FANTASTIC, and also reminds me of another brilliant GoT critique.


    • Oh man, how did I miss this? Really really glad someone is bringing up this point

    • Mytly

      It’s mostly very good, but this bit made me see red: “Seeing the consequences of the war rewrites it in our memory — did Robb Stark really need to march south? Was it honestly just over his dumb dad?”

      I mean, wtf?! This is staggering level of reading comprehension fail. First of al: The Riverlands weren’t decimated because Robb started a war over his ‘dumb dad’. The Riverlands were decimated by the Lannisters – well before the war actually starts. The decimation is Tywin Lannister’s severe overreaction to Catelyn’s arrest of Tyrion. So let’s put the blame where it squarely belongs, ok? On the shoulders of the war-criminal whose answers a blow to his family pride by destroying a whole region, murdering thousands of civilians, and imprisoning and torturing thousands more. The devastation seen by Brienne in AFFC – and painfully experienced by Arya in ACOK and ASOS – was caused by the Lannisters, not the Starks.

      Secondly, why the hell should Robb not march south to rescue his father? His father who is the Lord of their entire region, which makes Robb’s actions both personally and politically valid. Ned was falsely accused of treason and imprisoned by the Lannisters – why shouldn’t his son and heir try to come to his aid? And then he was ignominiously killed. Why shouldn’t Robb declare war against the Lannisters for this crime? Why shouldn’t he continue fighting in order to try to rescue his sisters, who were both (as far as he knew) being held hostage by the Lannisters?

      Sorry for the rant. But it pisses me off mightily when people blame the Starks for the Lannisters’ crimes. It’s par for the course in GoT and among GoT fans, but I would have expected better from a writer who is criticizing GoT, and who has clearly read ASOIAF.

      • Hyrkoon

        Yeah, people do fundamentally misunderstand the situation in the Riverlands. Perhaps it’s because there is “ambiguity” with Stark soldiers killing the sex workers that had Lannister clients in the Jaime chapters, but… there’s a bigger picture.

        The Stark ideal is one of honour and justice, even in the face of great personal danger. While it might be cast down, I believe one of the main points of the series is how Ned’s legacy lives on in the wolves who will “come again.”

        Whereas the Lannister ideal is one of corruption, literal illegitimacy, and a desire to decimate everything in one’s path just to consolidate power.

        I know we can’t say this without the series ending, but it really does seem a principal point to me. And really, the point in that article is a rather bad misunderstanding of Robb’s just retaliation.

        • Ivana Cvetanovic

          Well, GRRM didn’t really introduce that much moral ambiguity by writing about the Northerns killing common folk in the Riverlands – since these Northerners were mostly either Roose Bolton’s men, or Rickard Karstark’s men not loyal to Robb anymore.

          The one thing that’s always bothered me about ACOK is that Robb was absent from most of it, and that we only heard hearsay about what he was doing – not because I’m particularly invested in his character (I’m not that much, compared to how much I’m invested in his family members), but because a lot of that book was about the horrors of war and its effects on the people, especially smallfolk in the Riverlands (Arya’s storyline was especially driven by that), but we only saw the actions of Tywin Lannister and his men, Roose Bolton and his men, and the Bloody Mummers, in the Riverlands, and the Ironborn in the North. In the meantime, Robb was fighting in the Westerlands, and we heard about him doing some burning and pillage, but we never got to see him and his men and how they treated the smallfolk in the Westerlands. Did his men also kill and rape and torture people? If/when they did, how did Robb react? Did he punish them? Did he keep them in check and forbid them to act like that, or did he just let them do it, taking it as a natural part of war? I’m sure he was nothing like Tywin and wouldn’t encourage or order killing and raping and enslaving people, but we don’t know if he was OK with that kind of behavior, or if he tried to eliminate and punish it. We later see that Stannis takes a hard line toward rapists in his forces, gelding them. What did Robb do in similar situations? Also, to which amount did he and his men destroy/take the crops, livestock etc. of the smallfolk? That in itself can also be devastating, if done on a large scale. We needed to see if Robb as “(almost) as bad”, or, if not, to see a positive example of a military leader that follows the ethical rules of war and keeps his forces in check.

          Whichever it was, we needed to see it and know. I felt that GRRM did a cop-out with Robb – he wanted to have the “war is awful” theme going on, so a king not allowing his forces to commit war crimes wouldn’t have fit (even though he later portrayed Stannis as such), but he also didn’t want to portray Robb Stark in a bad light, so he just kept him out of the book. That’s one of the reasons why I think GRRM is probably right that he should have given Robb a POV (or at least, Dacey or someone else close to Robb, so we would get to see more of his campaign, rather than have it happen fully off-page once Catelyn leaves him to parley with Renly).

      • Ivana Cvetanovic

        It’s not just the shownlies – the hipster “Starks suck” attitude is popular with a portion of the book fandom, too.

        • Mytly

          Oh definitely. But in case of the shownlies, it’s sort of understandable, since the show has erased most of the Lannisters’ crimes and painted them as either fairly reasonable (Tywin and Cersei) or a perfect angel of shining goodness (Tyrion). And it goes out of its way to mock the concept of honour, to the point of slandering Ned’s character 5 seasons after his death (the Tower of Joy scene); and in general, telling and/or showing us that the Starks were awful idiots, such as the Northern lords blaming Robb for the Red Wedding. A shownly who doesn’t really dig deeper (which is hard to do in any case, as GoT has the depth of a microscopic puddle) could be excused for accepting the show’s word for it that the Wot5K was caused by the Starks. It’s a shitty attitude, but nonetheless an understandable one.

          But that’s not true in the case of the books. GRRM makes it pretty damn clear that the Lannisters are morally bankrupt and are by far the ones responsible for the devastation caused by the Wot5K. Anyone who has read the books has no excuse for blaming the Starks for the Lannisters’ crimes.

      • Maidens&Mules

        Not to mention that war was inevitable from the moment Cersei and Jaime conceived a child from their treasonous affair. Besides the fact the all three children looked like Lannisters, Jaime and Cersei were really not very good at being discrete. Indeed, Ned realized that war was coming early on. The only way war might have been avoided is if Cersei had chosen to accept Ned’s gesture of mercy and gone into exile with her children. Many people blame Ned for trying and failing to resolve the crisis without bloodshed, but they should remember that it wasn’t Ned or the Starks who decided they’d rather plunge the Seven Kingdoms into a destructive war than give up their ill-gotten gains.

        • Mytly

          Yes, exactly. The war would have happened in any case, even if Ned and the rest of the Starks had never set a foot out of Winterfell, because Stannis already knew about the incest, and had no intentions of letting the Lannisters steal his throne from him.

      • Jana Wolf

        Robb Stark did a lot of stupid shit. It mostly involved the women in his life – his mom, his sisters, his eventual wife.

        Marching south was not part of his giant-ass pile of bad decisions. It was the socially adequate response to what happened to his father and what was being done to his grandfather’s lands. It’s what you’re SUPPOSED to do. And it’s the one thing he actually did right during his campaign. The campaign itself.

        • Mytly

          IKR? ‘Honour’ didn’t get Ned killed – a sociopath whispering in the ears of a psychopath got him killed. Even the show itself acknoweldged that killing such a valuable hostage was politically foolish. That is, it acknowledged this at the beginning of season 2 (back when it was still a fairly good show and mostly based on the books), but in later seasons, the official party line became ‘Poor dumb Ned’s honour got him killed’. Ugh.

  • gybaw

    I understand general audiences loving it. What I don’t understand are critics and other show business people – especially writers – praising it above other fare out there. (Sometimes I think it’s more that they wish they could tell stories on the same scale and with the same budget so throwing accolades at it means opportunities opening up for them.)

    I stick around just to see the story play out, its technical production value, to see really good actors try to make the dialogue work and for Ramin Djawadi’s score. (I’m a sucker for leitmotif.)

    But every time I find myself in a conversation where someone talks about their love of GoT I keep myself quiet because I don’t want to ruin it for them.

    • Bo

      Exactly. The critic circlejerk around Game of Thrones is shameful. It goes to show how the power of HBO’s hype machine affects things. I can promise you they throw these glowing reviews at it in large part so HBO won’t blackball them from interviews and various promotional things.

      I was so happy when Alan Sepinwall was asked where he ranks Game of Thrones among the all time great shows, and he wasn’t even sure it would place in his top 100.

    • “What I don’t understand are critics and other show business people – especially writers – praising it”

      The show makes a lot of money. It’s really that simple.

  • Kiden Nixon

    OmG, this was such an epic read. xD I just saw this when I saw a link on a korrasami-tumblr, I really appreciate the digging into the show and am going to stick more to this site now.

    • Ha, the bleed into the Korrasami fandom was my doing, I’m afraid. But welcome! I’m glad you appreciated it, and we can promise lots more digging to come 🙂

      • Kiden Nixon

        Ah, then thanks for getting me here. I know the books so I’m really enjoying this picking apart of the show! ^^

  • Hyrkoon

    My favourite thing about the “reality of this world” bit, is that the situation Coggers mentioned should have actually been undermined by … Littlefinger doing research? The northern lords being relevant when there’s a big battle and a display of Bolton legitimacy in the north, and not just turning up in the prospect of a Lannister invasion (where Roose shot himself in the foot by arranging the Sansa marriage for the loyalty of bannermen [footage not found] only to face yet another war.)

    Perfect starter to the show, though. I honestly don’t know how people don’t notice the drop in quality, especially after the beginning of season 5, though admittedly, it was probably the storylines of the characters I was invested in such as Sansa and Arianne that put me off, but then again… every character is butchered at this point. I guess Missandei is cool if you’re a show-only, and apart from her age and romance there’s nothing that weird wrt her?

    • Brittany pointed out that reality to Littlefinger later, never worry.

      I can understand not noticing inconsistent characterizations to a degree, but the plots that just have no basis in logic? It’s infinitely confusing to me.

      • Hyrkoon


        Like, I’ve been talking to a few people who love the books recently, and it’s weird. Usually, people who still like the show honeypot, before eventually making a flawed Doylist conclusion (“Well, Cheryl’s Landing happened that way because they didn’t want to pay their actors for Season 7.”)

        Each to their own, but it baffles me how people can like the show on its own merits, even if (or perhaps especially if) it’s seen as its own entity separate from the books.

        • Jeanna Martin

          Then there’s people that love both the books and the show and don’t see very much difference between the two except for some small changes here and there (aside from the post-book content). The prime example of that is Cersei. Most of us here found Carol to be a sympathetic mom protecting her children. Everyone else I know that watches that show thinks she’s a complete bitch and her 180 into Cheryl was totally in character. They think the character on the screen is Cersei.

          [Insert drew scanlon reaction gif here].

          • Ivana Cvetanovic

            Or they claim that book Cersei is totally one-dimensional, while show Cersei is a supposedly “more complex” and more “interesting” villain. Which frustrates me to no end.

          • Cynical Classicist

            Inconsistent=Complex I suppose. In which case Sansa is a very complex character. And the patriarchy is very complex. Cersei in the books really is well-written, still an awful person, but an interesting villain.

  • Jessica Waimert

    And here is a fantastic review of the book (and why it’s bad):

    it’s long, but really worth a read!

    • Interesting perspective. I definitely have different takeaways from Martin’s work (I find it to be quite feminist overall), though I do believe the pattern of his writing got markedly markedly better with Books 4 and 5 especially. He’s definitely not infallible, but I think he does a ton more with the genre, and with character voices/what that means in the context of the setting than is outlined there.

      • Mims Dahn

        I think some of the most serious criticism lobbed at GRRM actually pertains whether he is a feminist writer or not.

        Qvcksilver has written on it here http://asoiafuniversity.tumblr.com/post/119478322575/on-george-martin-ladies-of-asoiaf-and

        Then you have the criticism about historically inaccurate misogyny in asoiaf which Joanna Lannister writes excellently on:


        • Idk, I find it a little bit of an uphill battle to argue he doesn’t really write women when he does such an immaculate job of exploring the way his setting affects everyone so uniquely and so specifically to their station and gender. Like I said, I find the takeaways feminist, especially set in the entire pattern of the books. I don’t believe he set out to write a series with a specifically feminist agenda, but I find it meaningful in that way. He’s certainly flawed, and his later books definitely improve in a lot of areas that were severely lacking.

          I’m sympathetic to people who don’t find it as engaging from this viewpoint, and I certainly could be proven wrong depending on what TWOW and ADOS bring. It’s just for now, he’s earned my benefit of the doubt.

          • Maidens&Mules

            I remember seeing an interview with Martin where he was asked how he creates such good female characters and his response was that he always considered women to be people. This shouldn’t be revolutionary or groundbreaking, but unfortunately it is.

            I do think he potentially misstepped in leaving out so many details about Dorne. Not giving Doran’s mother a name and forcing us to call her “the unnamed Princess of Dorne” is especially bad, as it makes Dorne’s relative equality between the sexes seem like more of an informed than an actual attribute. Still time to remedy this though.

            There’s also the Dead Mother’s Club. That our three probable dragon riders all have mothers who died giving birth to them (and two were conceived in liaisons of questionable consent) is potentially problematic. I think how problematic depends on how big a role the Starklings play in the rest of the narrative relative to the dragon riders and how heroic the dragon riders actually are. And of course that the dragon riders actually are Dany, Jon, and Tyrion.

          • Ivana Cvetanovic

            Whether or not Tyrion will be a dragonrider, there is no apparent reason to think Joanna’s relationship with Tywin was of questionable consent.


          • Maidens&Mules

            You’re correct that there’s no reason to believe Tyrion was the product of rape. However, we know that Dany was likely conceived when Aerys raped Rhaella after he burned Qarlton Chelsted and while we don’t know the exact details of Rhaegar and Lyanna, the fact that Rhaegar apparently abducted Lyanna and kept her in a tower where she couldn’t easily escape, not to mention the age difference between them makes consensual sex between them a dubious proposition. So two of our three likely dragon riders were likely conceived by rape.

      • Jeanna Martin

        With characters like Cersei, Sansa, and Asha, it’s difficult for me to understand how people don’t see Martin as a feminist.

        However, I will argue that every once in a while, he does the tropiest bullshit when writing from a woman’s point of view: they think about their breasts for no apparent reason. I can specifically recall Dany doing this in ADWD and my brain came to a screeching-record-scratch halt. It was so jarring.

        • Yeah, I definitely agree with this. But just Cersei’s POV juxtaposed against any other woman alone. Or Brienne, my GOD.

        • Ivana Cvetanovic

          Well… for the record, I think about my breasts quite often :/ so I never was as irritated by that as the majority of readers seem to be.

          • Priscilla

            I never noticed that either, so it doesn’t bother me. I guess my only major complaint on GRRM’s writing of women is the Dead Ladies Club.

          • Mytly

            Yeah, I don’t see why that’s unrealistic. It’s not like Dany thinks about her boobs all the time. She does it maybe twice or thrice over the course of 5 books. Tyrion thinks about his dick far more often, yet I don’t see anyone bitching about that.

            IMO, it’s a great way for a writer to put readers into the heads of the characters: by having them think about their bodies.

    • Jana Wolf

      Well… I appreciate the tone, but about 95% of the criticisms are invalidated by later books. Book 1 is definitely the weakest of the bunch, but it is also vastly improved upon by later books when you know what GRRM is actually going for.

      …Also I have a hard time taking anything seriously that claims Jon Snow in book 1 is an anti-hero. Like. No. Theon of book 2 is the closest thing we get, and he gets deconstructed hard. Literally and figuratively. Also any and all complaints about using gritty realism instead of fantastic elements just to be different goes out the window when someone hatches dragons as the climax of the book.

    • Eleanor

      That was a terrible review! The person writing it didn’t even finish the books, but their main criticisms seems to be that there’s a lot of rape, that character deaths are meaningless, and that everything bleak and everyone is doomed. I feel pretty strongly that none of this is true!

      The only valid criticism was that GRRM brought his own cultural conditioning into his writing (re. remarking on women’s physicality and not having a POV homosexual character), but like, welcome to all of literature….

      • Mytly

        Jon Connington is a POV homosexual character. Yeah, I know he’s a relatively minor character introduced only in the fifth book and has only 2 chapters so far (though he’ll probably get more in TWOW). That’s not exactly great representation, of course, but it’s something.

    • Jeanna Martin

      This was such a fascinating read! Especially because I’ve read both the Sword of Truth series (Goodkind) and Wheel of Time (Jordan). While I agree with their gripes about Goodkind (he seems so full of himself in interviews) and Jordan definitely had huge issues with writing women and men interacting (very stereotypical women are mysterious creatures men will never understand and men are dumb beasts that women have to tame and train), neither series of books are terrible by any definition of the word. They’re both fun reads and I love them both.

      But comparing ASOIAF to them? Just … no. They’re not the same type of story at all. Sword of Truth and Wheel of Time are distinctly different stories, as much as both authors tried to claim they bucked the trend of epic fantasy by telling human stories. They are actually human stories, but with incredibly fantastical elements as the focal point. We know that the Others in ASOIAF are really tangential to everything else going on in Westeros …

      Thanks for sharing this, it was incredibly interesting.

  • Bo

    I’ll always believe the biggest example of how the characters will always change motives and personality based on the plot is with Davos and Melisandre. Davos has a well established fear and hatred of Melisandre and her magic, to the point that he plots to murder her. She then goes and burns Shireen and abandons Stannis, who Davos has a fierce, unbending loyalty to. Sounds like grounds to increase his hatred when she shows up at Castle Black, right?

    Nope, now he likes her magic and wants her to use it to resurrect someone. Which, he should have no idea is even possible while I’m bringing it up. So not only does the character’s motivation completely contradict everything we know about him to that point, but he has knowledge he only knows because the script needed him to.

    This fucking show, man.

    • Mytly

      Add to that the fact that Davos doesn’t bother to ask about Shireen for an entire season. Even when he learns several episodes earlier that Stannis is dead. What did Davos think happened to Shireen after her father was defeated in battle? How could he possibly fail to inquire about her for so long?

      • Brienne comes trotting over to brag about killing Stannis and he doesn’t ask a single follow-up, too. Just horrible.

        • Mytly

          IKR? Frankly that exchange itself was terrible. Brienne (the Brute) comes over to boast that she killed Stannis, the King whom Davos worshipped almost as a god, and Davos’s reaction is … nothing. So believable. Truly, GoT is amazing at creating consistent characters.

      • Maidens&Mules

        If they were going to kill Stannis and they weren’t prepared to have Davos deal with losing his patron and closest friend they should have had him die at around the same time Stannis did.

        • Bo

          Seriously, if they need to cut SO many characters because they have SO little time and money (which is completely to blame for every flaw, of course), than why twist the narrative in such ridiculous directions to keep certain characters around?

          Hmm, maybe those excuses are just bad excuses.

      • Bo

        And people LOVE Davos despite this blatantly obvious betrayal of his characterization. I don’t get it. People just don’t freaking care.

        • Mytly

          Most casual viewers really don’t care about consistent characterization. They love Davos’s change in characterization because he’s now supporting one of the unambiguous heroes (Jon) instead of the guy who was portrayed as a villain even when he was doing heroic deeds (Stannis).

          • Bo

            That’s fine for casual viewers. But why don’t critics call this shit out rather than ignore it or dismiss it while they gladly overpraise this crap? Why do the hardcore fans who dig into this stuff not care, and in fact praise Davos endlessly? It really drives me insane.

          • Mytly

            Frankly, there are some professional critics who couldn’t tell a good TV show/episode from a bad one if their lives depended on it (and their livelihoods do depend on it). Despite all the hype surrounding ‘prestige’ drama in the past 15-20 years, TV critics still seem to think of TV as the ‘idiot box’, and analyse its content pretty much only in terms of personal preferences or superficial appeal. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but even the reviewers on as major a site for media criticism as the AV Club are simply terrible at their jobs. I stopped taking them seriously years ago.

    • Yeah Davos becoming a Jon-stan makes absolutely no sense. Like sure, Jon’s a reasonable dude, but to ignore everything he experienced up until that point?

  • Bo

    I have zero problem with people enjoying Game of Thrones. If you don’t recognize or care about some of the more offensive stuff it does, it can be a fun, flashy show to watch.

    But to pretend this travesty belongs anywhere near the masterpieces currently populating the TV landscape in this golden era of prestige dramas is infuriating to me. For it to be so consistently awarded as the best among them is indefensible, and I can guarantee you that people are going to feel embarrassed when they look back at the shows they screwed over to reward Game of Thrones instead.

    No one whose opinion means anything in the TV world is going to look back on 2015 or 2016 and say Game of Thrones was the best show either year. Not even close.

    • Most Outstanding Drama, clearly. And best written!

  • WanderingUndine

    I’ve never watched any non-documentary adult TV shows besides GoT, and never wanted to before the recent unprecedented bounty of other shows based on books I’ve read (which I might get to watch if and when they come out on DVD). So I don’t have much personal basis for judging GoT’s relative quality, except in relation to ASOIAF. I appreciate your explanation.

    I think some of GoT’s morality problems may hinge on misinterpretation of ASOIAF’s morality. ASOIAF could give the impression of being a story where all good deeds are punished and all bad deeds are rewarded, the most notorious examples being Ned’s beheading and the Red Wedding. But it’s actually a story where foolish* deeds — kind, cruel, or otherwise – usually come back to bite the doer at some point, and people who act with sense and intelligence can be very successful up to the moment they make a fatal mistake. D&D chose to adopt the first framework and made a story where openly slaughtering your rulers and/or family is a surefire way to power, and any act of compassion will get you killed soon thereafter. The consequences of actions are often not what they rationally should be, e.g. people breaking laws and customs with absolute impunity, but they do fall into a pattern.

    I’m still frustrated that I won’t get to watch GoT Season 7 until it comes out on DVD in, like, a year from now. But that’s largely because I won’t get to follow and participate in your critique, as I want to know firsthand what you (and the rest of the fandom) are talking about. I’ve wondered how many of its problems I would’ve noticed if I hadn’t discovered this website a year ago. I can rarely muster much mental argument against your statements, but don’t feel them as wholeheartedly, and now get uncomfortable hearing GoT be criticized *or* praised.

    *The “foolish deeds” I’m thinking about consisted of angering someone(s) while showing your vulnerability to them at roughly the same time. They’re often born of things like arrogance, pride, hate, misplaced “honor,” or disregard for rules or other peoples’ opinions, not intelligence per se — hence, some really smart characters spend long lives skillfully dealing with people and situations, but get themselves killed or severely disadvantaged with one bad move. But to an outsider, in retrospect, their consequences may seem likely and predictable.

    The laws, taboos, and honor systems of a place, e.g. Planetos, may not make sense to us. But people disregarding them with impunity doesn’t make sense either. Sure, it happens all too often in our world. But in some stories, it’s the norm.

    • You’re completely right about the consequences not lining up to the actions. The series of nonsensical ascensions in Season 6 are kind of proof of this. Cersei, Jon, and Ellaria all are awarded leadership for being idiots or murderous idiots. Similarly, acts of compassion are punished, and horribly. It therefore punishes audience investment.

      • Elsa

        And that’s the reason why I find myself increasingly compelled to cheer for the White Walkers. They are evil, but so is almost everybody else. They are competent at what they are doing. Their characterisation is consistent. The Night’s King showed more reaction to Jon killing his lieutenant at Hardhome than Sansa did to Rickon’s death
        D&D do a better job writing zombies than human characters. No wonder that the White Walkers have gotten more screentime on GoT than in ASOIAF.

        • Oh my god, you’re right. They were gutted.

      • WanderingUndine

        Yeah, definitely a pattern. Though I’m not sure “bad deeds get rewarded” is the most accurate description, if we viewers are expected to approve of it like the other characters (except the victims). More like “cruel and violent deeds get rewarded no matter wh

        Offhand, I can think of 30 named characters who have died in the show and are still alive in the book. I’m sure there are more. Some will undoubtedly die in the books, but the circumstances and consequences are likely to be different.

  • Maidens&Mules

    In retrospect, the choice to name the series Game of Thrones rather than A Song of Ice and Fire was rather telling. With a few exceptions (most notably Cersei when she’s talking to Ned when he confronts her about the incest) “the game of thrones” is used in universe as an ironic, darkly comic metaphor for the power struggles between the great houses. The game of thrones is a game only the the high lords and to schemers like Littlefinger and Varys. To the people they use as pieces in their game it’s anything but. The show runners seemed to be aware that the term “game of thrones” was meant to be ironic in the beginning, but at some point, they decided to focus on the politics and power struggles as an end to themselves rather than showing the harm they cause.

    An adaptation can get away with a lot of changes to the source material
    as long it stays faithful to the tone. A Song of Ice and Fire certainly
    has it’s serious and dark moments, but Martin counterbalances them with
    moments of genuine humanity. He also serves them up with a good deal of
    irony and black humour. In many cases, the reader is left wondering if
    they should be horrified by what they’re reading or burst out laughing.
    Almost none of this makes it into GoT. Most of the moments of humanity are cut as is most of the humour, though they do occasionally try to add their own humourous moments, most of which are painfully unfunny. It’s almost like the writers and show runners have an inferiority complex. They want to show the world that fantasy can be a serious and adult genre too so they crank the “mature content” up to eleven, consequences to the story be damned.

    • Jeanna Martin

      Painfully unfunny – like guys in the forest sexually assaulting each other. 🙁

      • It was nice that a super-fan got a cameo, but this was really what they thought passed as humor?

    • I still can’t get over everyone in Braavos being mean and not giving a shit as a bleeding Arya walks dizzily through the streets. No seriously guys, don’t trouble yourself.

      It’s definitely a tonal thing. If they had just at least gotten the characters right, it could have salvaged this, but every aspect feels wrong, and paints this just blahh narrative.

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  • Got…Mehhhhhhhhhh

  • Jeanna Martin

    This is fantastic. Instead of my trying to explain on the spot why this show is bad — which you even called out in this piece, where do you even start?! — I’ll send them to this link and then that way, they’ll have all of the relevant links provided with context as they’re reading. And then I don’t stumble over myself because I’m trying to tackle the thousand things wrong with this show.

    • We’ve done our job!

  • Aashay Meshram

    Not related to anything overall, but I think one of the funniest things about the Qyburn killing Pycelle scene was checklist effect at such amazing levels of finery that they didn’t even bother changing the dialogue with regards to Pycelle being murdered and not Kevan. Qyburn still calls him ‘my lord’ instead of Grand maester or something!

    • Every moment in that exchange was just so mystifying. What ‘new’ is being ushered in? Does Cersei speak many languages and wash her own socks?

  • Aashay Meshram

    One of the most infuriating things is that many unsullied still think that Martin is responsible for this horrible nonsense that is being brought to our screens. I remember last year when summer died one girl got angry saying: ‘I’ll kill Martin if another direwolf dies!’ And the Hodor reveal, the way it happens many people think its exactly how it’s in the books (they don’t even know it hasn’t happened yet)! I blame D and D for propagating such a horrible culture among the unsullied : hiding behind Martin every time they do something controversial, book reader hatred etc etc. Just yesterday in the comments of some shitty buzzfeed article one guy said that the books are much better and immediately he had 100 people hating him, abusing him and one person even said :”Well, Martin is pretty involved in the story so I am sure he wants all the changes to his crap decisions!”

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  • onetireddad

    If your diving this deep into the show you need a life more than the fan-boys do.

    • Ivana Cvetanovic

      If you’re taking time to read an article criticizing the show even though that’s clearly not even something you’re interested in reading, and then comment on it without having anything substantial to say, you need it even more so.

      • onetireddad

        Skimmed the article and got enough information to form an opinion. I tried to be polite in how I expressed it. I have nothing substantial to say because I didn’t find any real substance to comment on. You hate the show. I get it.

        • Ivana Cvetanovic

          No, you obviously don’t.

          • onetireddad

            Well that will put me in my place.

          • Ivana Cvetanovic

            It’s not like that’s needed. You never left your place to begin with. It’s not like you managed to say anything other than, paraphrased “aaargh TL:DR, I can’t deal with long articles and complex sentences, can’t read this and can’t understand anything, I just know you hate the show, so… you suuuck!”

            Why would anyone bother trying to make you look stupid, when you’ve done such a good job doing that yourself?

          • onetireddad

            Sounds like I’m living rent free in your head. 🤘

    • Phily123

      Maybe we’d take you more seriously if you offered some counterpoints to why you think the author of this article is wrong but you didn’t even try.

    • Bo

      If you don’t think the show is worth diving this deep into, then that’s fine. But in that same line of thinking, can we stop pretending it’s better than the half-dozen shows airing in the same time that are worth diving into and don’t fall apart under the most minute scrutiny the way Game of Thrones does?

      Because that’s the thing, you really don’t have to think that hard to tear Game of Thrones to pieces. The plotholes and inconsistent characters are fairly obvious with even the slightest bit of thought. And that’s the problem so many of us have. It gets award after award tossed at it instead of better shows, and it has this unearned reputation as the best show on TV.

    • Kraas


  • WanderingUndine

    Someone has posted this article in the 53,842- member Song of Ice and Fire Facebook group, generating much discussion.

    • Hyrkoon

      Ah, I remember facebook… not sure if I’d like to see some of that discussion 😉 though some must be interesting, of course.

      • WanderingUndine

        Some disagreement, plenty of appreciative agreement.

    • Bo

      I’m torn on whether I want to check it out or not. Because I imagine I’d be simultaneously fascinated and infuriated.

  • Gray Catbird

    I have been following GoT from a distance without really watching it, mainly the Dany part because I think dragons are cool. I was really interested to see what you had to say about the show, because it’s incredibly popular and is considered the quintessence of current TV. It’s also a show I have a lot of trouble to watch because I find it so hopeless.
    I’m not going to lie, I confirm that, as you acknowledge in the introduction, this article is very hard to read for someone that hasn’t a good knowledge of the show… It makes it hard for me to distinguish what I would think of as a nitpick from a valid criticism. One thing I felt is that you are still making a lot of comparison to the books, which leads me to wonder if the problem here isn’t necessarily that GoT is bad (I mean, overall I think the universe depicted in GoT, with its all its pseudo-realism and parallels to real-life medieval settings and legends is pretty cool), but rather that it appears as so much less than the books.
    Anyways, I regret a bit not being able to understand more, as it is clear you have put a lot of thought into this and are very intelligent about it. Be assured that if ever I decide to watch the show in its entirety, I’ll refer to this article again.

    • Priscilla

      “It’s also a show I have a lot of trouble to watch because I find it so hopeless.” Yes, it is. It didn’t start that way, but I think it got worse as seasons progressed.

      (it’s a misreading of the source material, I think. While the books are pretty dark sometimes and the setting is definitely harsh, the message I take from them is one of hope, of surviving and trying to be good despite everything you had to endure. The show seems to lack this nuance, or rather lost it along the way)

    • Elsa

      I totally agree with what you wrote about hopelessness.
      Regarding the comparison to the books, I think this comes from the tendency of the showrunners and some showfans to hide behind the books whenever they are critcised. To give you an example a certain character is killed at the end of Season 5 and it makes absolutely no sense. Even GoT Wikia, the Wiki for the Show, writes that this is pretty much a plothole and that they can’t explain why the characters are behaving the way in which they are behaving. Now, if I were to criticise the Show for it, the showrunners and some showfans would tell me that this character gets killed in the book 5 as well and thus the show is just following the books. Yes, it happens in the books, but the problem is that the showrunners have completely taken this scene out of context and changed the entire setup. It makes sense in the books, but the Show version is completely different and makes no sense.
      It’s like that with many things. If you criticise the show for how on how it deals with rape they will tell you that the books have rapescenes as well. Yes, but George R.R. Martin deals with this in a better way than the show does.
      The showrunners want it both ways: When you criticise them for not adapting the books properly they will tell you that the books and the show are two different things, but when you try to criticise the show on it’s own merrits they will tell you “it happened in the books as well”.

  • Drilling4mana

    I’ve come back to this daily since it was posted, it’s so perfect.

  • Cynical Classicist

    Such a brilliant article. Of course if I’m talking about flaws I would mention Stannis, and the ridiculous contrivances that bring him down. Stannis’ main enemy was bad writing, a complex character is distorted and brought down by a badly-written villain. And the writers have terrible priorities, thinking we needed more Ramsay at the cost of Stannis. We are treated to more scenes of Ramsay being horrible, the show seeming to endorse the nihilistic worldview the books explored but ultimately went against. We don’t have villains being brought down because their evil methods don’t work in the long-term, Bolton cruelty failing against Stark good rule enabling loyalty. And Sam’s arc endorses the Randyll Tarly worldview… what? Again, the horrible worldviews of villains in the book are being shown as the correct view to have.

  • The Dragon Demands

    Screw the rules, I make them. I’m adding this as a front page news item on Game of Thrones Wiki ( we get 1 million site visits a day). http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Template:FrontPageNews?diff=327645&oldid=326858

    I have broad discretionary powers on what I consider “news”, and there’s no rule saying I can’t post a very insightful review as news – given that yesterday I posted an interview by Ava Duvernay criticizing the show for not having female directors at all for 3 years.

    Oh I figured out what they’re REALLY doing, and it is easy to explain once you think down to their level:

    “We reconceived the role to make it worthy of the actor’s talents”.

    Which is how they describe Varma-Ellaria in the Season 5 Blu-ray commentaries.

    You see, shockingly, your assessments that “they like grimdark” and acedia are incorrect…well, the RESULT is that, but they seem blissfully unaware of how dark it is.

    During the Sansa rape parts they ACTUALLY say “the critics are wrong, Theon and Sansa are both Powerful Players in Season 5”.

    THEON, who is crying helplessly, so this isn’t even about Sansa’s “resolve and endurance”.

    There are no fictional characters, they’re describing the actors.

    The SOLE, child-like, single-minded approach to the entire TV series has been “are our favorite actors getting a lot of facetime today?” By which they mean, exaggerated, empty histrionics.

    They aren’t pushing a “grimdark” agenda, if they were they wouldn’t be inventing Talisa romance and Tyrion jokes.

    The worst part is, they SAID all of this, openly.

    EVERY change to the TV series, with shocking consistency, was described by them in open interviews as “we really wanted to give the actor more to do”.

    We just ignored it each time, because we’re not idiots but expect “writing” and never assumed they were just…pandering the actors ability to emote on cue.

    They think Sansa is “Strong” because Sophie Turner has the ability to “strongly emote” on cue when she cries for the camera during rape scenes. Literally. They say this.

    You mention Cersei being a likable character: They STATED, IN INTERVIEWS, “we started writing Cersei to be more sympathetic and motherly because we love how Lena Headey is great at authentically playing motherly and sympathetic scenes”. Actual interviews.

    They don’t “like” Ramsay Bolton, the fictional character….they “like” Iwan Rheon, the actor, and were shilling him for an Emmy award!

    We didn’t see it because on some level we didn’t think even they could sink to such a low. Awards-baiting. I mean how many times have we seen stuff accused “You’re just Oscar-baiting using a villain who is trying to hard to be the next Heath Ledger joker”. That’s EXACTLY what they did with Ramsay.

    It affects every storyline:

    Sansa/Boltons/Theon torture: the actors are great at crying on cue, or in Rheon’s case, doing a great crazy act.

    Cersei: written as more sympathetic because they openly said they changed her to be more like the sympathetic Lena Headey.

    Tyrion: Peter Dinklage is a kind and funny person….so they’re writing “Peter Dinklage playing Tyrion”, not “Tyrion”.

    Jon Snow:….as they openly say in the DVD commentary, they think Jon is “strong” when Kit Harington is shooting death-glares at people while swinging a sword and doing his own stunts. So they INVENTED Hardhome, invented Battle of the Bastards (neither will probably be in the books)….on a massive scale, and indeed failing logistically….to shill Kit Harington for an Emmy award. And the episode director later said the original ending was abandoned because they didn’t plan it out well logistically.

    Dorne…directly said, “this exists to show off Indira Varma”. It’s not that “Season 4 Ellaria” and “Season 5 Ellaria” are two separate characters….the fictional character ceased to exist, it’s Varma.

    Robb Stark and Talisa — openly said “well, we changed it to a Romance to show off Richard Madden as a romantic lead”.

    Invented scenes of Catelyn Stark crying over children: “Wow, Michelle Fairley is so strong in this scene! Because she’s strongly emoting! How can people say we don’t give her enough to do, when we gave Fairley such a big facetime scene?”

    Stannis: “wow, look how great Stephen Dillane is at making on ‘oh shit’ face!”


    And I’ll tell you what we’re going to do: Rhaenyra Has An Army, and we’re recruiting.

    I do ask that you please watch and review the video analysis series I’ve been making which is a summation of around 2 years of heavy research, finally “cracking the code” and figuring out what Benioff and Weiss are really doing:

    It’s in this playlist on YouTube: I’ve got Dorne and Robb/Talisa done, Cersei and Stannis due this weekend:


    • Hah, thanks for that shout-out!

      Yeah I mean we’ve talked about this before. But like, there’s two components to this, and you’re touching on one. The other is why they feel like an actor evincing despair, revenge, pain, is so appealing, and that’s in line with the patterns of storytelling we’ve been talking about. Their guiding motivation is to produce the TV they think is the best, you know? It’s just telling what that end result is.

      • The Dragon Demands

        No. They don’t “like” revenge, rage….they have Ellaria yelling on screen because it’s just Varma engaging in empty histrionics. You could mute the dialogue, it’s “look at her face!”. They don’t even comprehend that rape scenes are dark, torture scenes are dark….when they keep ranting over and over again ‘look at how strong Theon is in this scene”….when he’s being brutalized and tortured…or “look at what a player he is this season”, and ‘look how powerful Sansa is in this rape scene”……they don’t even comprehend that this is dark. It’s all, purely, “is the actor having a big day today”.

        Oh yeah, the end result of course.

        But I’m not just “yelling to feel better”.

        Long story short, the stated goal is to smear the in the press “dear god, they can’t tell that a female character being raped is dark or taking her agency away — they honestly believe she’s a “strong player” due to emoting heavily and crying on cue”. Revealing that they’re awards-baiting. Oh they don’t consciously think they are, they think this is what good TV is.

        In turn, we then smear them as awards-baiters throughout the Emmy-voting community. This will HARM them, far more than complaining on our own websites.

        THAT is when the fun begins…

        They don’t think an actor IS “evincing despair” when they call Theon a “strong player” during a torture scene. They think the ‘Evincing” is all there is, INTERCHANGEABLY. It’s how we got Brienne staring at a candle for half a season.

        …..or you could do a review of my videos as a news post, pointing out parts you disagree with, to present the issue and see what the comments section community makes of it: my view is that D&D are such utter morons, so bleached and removed from intelligent thought, that they truly don’t comprehend that they’re presenting a dark, nihilistic, or simply nonsensical version of Westeros. They’re just pandering the actors – and pandering them poorly.

        When did they ever say “wow rape is cool”? All they were ranting, since before Season 5, was “this is the year Sansa goes from pawn to player” — they were being honest, that’s their warped view of it.

  • Jack Isaf

    the biggest show gaffe that infuriates me is their adaptation of Stannis. Feels like the show writers deliberately sabotaged his character purely cause they didn’t understand his depth and complexity (and this in essence sums up the whole show, surface over substance). Such a shame too I really think if adapted correctly, Stannis could’ve been an anti-hero on par with the likes of Walter White, Tony Soprano and Don Draper

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  • Jane P

    Yes! You’ve articulated the criticisms I’ve had for this popular show very eloquently. I’m absolutely fine with people liking, disliking, or not caring about GoT, but in my opinion, some of the praises that this show has received is somewhat unwarranted. Wanting to “Voyeuristically consume violence” or be unable to predict at all what happens next (due partly to character and plot inconsistency) is fine! However, I disagree that it is as deep a show as many claims it to be.

  • Samuel

    Counting gallons per minute on Breaking Bad? What does that even mean?