Whelp, we had nearly two blissful years, didn’t we? Logically I knew this day would come, and yet for the past few months, I did my best to ignore the passage of time and pretend April 14th wasn’t approaching. To pretend that I wouldn’t—for the fourth time in a row—have to tune into the show I’ve come to hate. Naturally I speak of Game of Thrones, the cultural phenomenon foisted on us by showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss (D&D).
Could I ignore it? Well, not with ease if social media for the past two weeks has been anything to go by. But more so, the time has long passed since I questioned whether analyzing this show is worth it. I believe it is, very much. Myself, Julia, and many others here at The Fandomentals agree, and will argue in defense of hate-watching. Or love-watching for A Song of Ice and Fire, from a certain point of view. Heck, even ignoring the books, many of us have time and time again come to realize that the show falls apart on its own merits, while at the same time containing little other than vacuous shock-chasing writing and tired tropes.
But…look around on the internet. We’re in the minority by a whole lot. So I’m here to do two things today:
- Provide anyone who’s stumbled onto this random corner of the fandom without having followed along for 3 seasons easy entry-points into our reasons for criticisms, as well as our numerous rather niche jokes, and;
- Lay out our plan for Season 8 coverage, memes, and of course, awards season.
If you’re an old-timer, you may kindly skip to the subheading “It’s the Final Countdown.” If you are new here, a most hearty welcome. Perhaps you’d enjoy some soup (gumbo) before we explain what we have to offer.
Three Cheers for Four Years (of Snobbery)
Way back in the early ’10s, most of us were fans of that new and exciting show Game of Thrones. Heck, it prompted me to read the books. And reread them. Then…somewhere around the end of Season 4/beginning of Season 5, a lot of us began to realize that the quality appeared to be slipping. For myself, I dove even deeper into the books for answers, only to realize more and more that the show was on a horrible divergent path, particularly in terms of themes. My co-brain Julia and I came up with a list of the biggest 10 reasons why we believed it was happening at the time.
And thus spawned our “Unabashed Book Snobbery” (UBS) brand. Yet as time went on, the scaffolding the books provided fell away almost entirely from the show. Heck, we thought Season 5 was super divergent, and that was before Sam starred in a family sitcom or Ellaria arranged for her nephew and almost-brother-in-law to be murdered. We also noticed, particularly in Season 5, that the writing was…not greatest when it came to that ol’ sexism department. In fact, I spent a painstaking amount of time wading through the tropes that defined the season’s writing, and explaining how that fit into an ambivalent sexist framework. That angle of critique remained a constant for Season 6, and Season 7.
If that topic is of interest to you, I believe those essays are fantastic starting points. If you think that topic is irrelevant or somehow gets in the way of other, more relevant topics, then I’ll kindly point you to Julia’s and my response to a GoT-critical documentary that tried to make the same argument.
However, there is no question that our more popular forms of critique have been our “retrospectives.” These essays began in Season 5, when Julia decided that she wanted to analyze the Dornish plot in isolation, because…what the hell.
And yes, we went on to watch every single plot of Seasons 5-7 in isolation. Perhaps she didn’t realize it at the time, but looking and watching just one character’s journey at a time really allowed us to hone in on the stories D&D were trying to tell and the messages that accompanied. It was easy to lose track of Jon’s character arc when you’re only shown a few minutes at a time for 10 weeks. But compiled, the results were illuminating.
It’s also worth noting that the retrospectives all include a humorous element, usually in the form of a more joking recap. And that’s been a large part of our approach to watching Game of Thrones, since otherwise we’re left with a rather tedious, joyless, punish-you-for-caring show. In fact, if there’s no other essay you read at all, it should be what I just linked by Gretchen, which explains the concept of “acedia,” and why the show can be so damn exhausting. It also begins to get at how Benioff and Weiss fail to understand their own setting as used by George R.R. Martin, who despite the grimness of his world, is writing what seems to be a more hopeful and romantic (classically so) reading of humanity.
You know what? I can feel myself entering a rabbit hole. The truth is, it’s very hard to concisely explain the way the show errs, on its own merits, and as any sort of adaptation. Julia and I once tried to pull together a GoT-is-bad-101 post, which grew over 8,000 words and required us to link about every other word to all that we had written previously. And because we’re only met with a mass of overwhelming enthusiasm and joy from the public at large, our little corner here has become more and more full of jokes.
If you’d like to keep up with us this season, you definitely need the Book Snob Glossary. We began using alternative character names, since the ones on our screen were so drastically different than the ones in the book, and it just kinda stuck. Our first nicknames belong to Cersei and Jaime, who Julia arbitrarily named “Carol and Larry.” We miss Carol (since she was taken over by her evil, wine-boarding alter ego “Cheryl”), and do a lot in her honor…even hosting award shows. I know the nicknames aren’t for everyone, but we do hope that we at least struck an okay balance of toning it down when more serious discussions were required.
Finally, I’m going to rapid-fire some of our non-retrospective Season 7 critiques, which is also a convenient brush-up for those of us who tried not to think about the show a whole lot in the off season:
- Why we weren’t super into that sizzling Jon and Dany romance
- “Beyond the Wall” was a bad episode, sure, but worse than others?
- The treatment of Jon’s ~mystery parentage~ misses so many points
- Turtle’s brutal take-down of the political nonsense that closed the season
It’s the Final Countdown
So yeah, real shocker: the reasons and ways in which we don’t like Game of Thrones.
But the fact is, I have come to really enjoy the analysis and jokes, as much as I think watching the show is a genuinely unpleasant experience, on a visceral level. This is the end of an era. What’s our plan to make the send-off as fun and thorough as possible?
Frankly, we’re not about fixing what wasn’t broken. We’re going to be back live-blogging the episodes, which you can find here on TheFandomentals.com. The links will go active about 5-10 minutes before show time (Sundays, 9pm est April 14th – May 19th). Jess is going to be reprising her role as our illustrious weekly reviewer, with her scathing thoughts available Monday mornings following the episode. Julia and I are then excited to welcome back fashion-critic extraordinaire Caroline to our UBS Podcast as a regular host during the season. Episodes should be in our feeds on Wednesdays.
Finally, we’ve got our official BINGO board, created on one of our Fandomentals+ live-hangouts. And let’s just say…we expect a lot of winners:
If you’d like randomized cards for each episode, here’s a pack of 8. Who will get CAROL first, we wonder?
At the moment, we don’t have a specific plan for analyses, since we truly don’t know what curveballs this season could bring. Julia and I know we will do retrospectives of…something, in some format.
Finally, we can promise you that the Golden Carols are being polished for the Seas0n 8 awards. We are also going to have a Carol of Carols: the Caroling; awards for the full series. What can we say, our rewatch convinced us.
So that’s that. I’m honestly excited, and it’s not just because I think this season could be somewhat watchable, given its clear and simplistic stakes. It’s because as much as it annoys me that this show is so dang pervasive and I’m about to face six weeks of just not being able to talk to coworkers, I truly love the community we’ve formed here over the years. And this is it. We’re leaving together…but still it’s farewell. So let’s stand tall, because maybe this will be the year critics finally see us, and welcome us all.