Why HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ reigns over television

Image via HBO
Image via HBO

Tragedies, dragons, and nudity, oh my!

By Carlos Bilan, Contributor

Winter is coming. There is a sense of urgency in that tone. It might not appear obvious, but for fans of Game of Thrones, this motto sends shivers down their spines. It’s the feeling you get when you watch the series. If you’re on social media, chances are that you have either come across this series, or seen your friends talk about it. Ever wondered what makes it so popular? I can give a few main reasons without giving spoilers (because we know how those can ruin the fun).

HBO’s Game of Thrones is a series adaptation from George R. R. Martin’s best-selling epic fantasy novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire. When you watch the series for the first time, you think it could pass as a period drama because of the medieval setting. There are kings and queens, knights in shining armor, etc. When you see the dragons, though, you are reminded this is purely fictional (thankfully).

Looking at the social aspect of the series, one sees that it’s an extremely ruthless world where serious inequality between men and women is evident. Not only that, but LGBTQ+ characters experience severe oppression. One could argue that the series is a hyperbolic interpretation of modern-day society. Injustice is put at the centre, and you are just rooting for these characters to survive in this world.

With regards to content, Game of Thrones is notorious for its graphic violence and gore. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it can be extremely disturbing. The show knows no bounds, and is no stranger to controversy and media uproar. Violence is terrible, but knowing that a TV show goes that far adds a factor of sensationalism and will most likely get you curious.

A friend said that Game of Thrones should be titled Game of Butts because statistically, there is most likely to be nudity in an episode. If you watch the series for the first time, you will ask yourself how such a show gets broadcasted on television. Interestingly, crucial information related to characters and plot is revealed against this sexually charged backdrop. “Sexposition” is a visual media technique coined in 2011 to encapsulate meaningful provocative scenes rather than gratuitous titillation. So these sex scenes are, in fact, often relevant to the story. Also, many of the female characters are badasses, and don’t only exist to titillate the audience.

Story-wise, Game of Thrones can be infuriating, as tragedies keep happening left and right. Beloved characters experience awful hardships that they don’t deserve. There does not seem to be any hope in the middle of despair. And just when you thought that was over, you’re wrong, because there’s often a big storm coming. The plot is unpredictable and thrilling. Moreover, there are redemption arcs, which are to die for—pun intended. These arcs are so satisfying, and they are what get you raising your fist and cheering for the characters. Besides archetypes in the show being destroyed after being presented, some are rebuilt and undergo incredible development.

Season 8 is confirmed to be the last, so if you’re curious about what the hype and critical acclaim of Game of Thrones is all about, then it’s not too late to catch up. There are 10 episodes per season, and season 6 has concluded. I admit the show in season one appears dense and can be baffling, but as you progress, puzzle pieces fit together and you get more captivated. If you don’t believe me, look at the consistent rise in ratings. If this article sells you on the show, my biggest advice to you when you start watching: Don’t get too attached to any characters. They will probably die. But even I couldn’t help but get attached, and ended up crying when the inevitable arrived. However, at the point the series is at right now—especially after the recent season finale—Game of Thrones is an epic masterpiece, and it just makes you so glad to be watching.