Monday, May 20, 2013

Game of Thrones is Boring


I’m pretty sure Game of Thrones is my favorite show. I say “pretty sure” because it’s boring. I’m as sure that it’s my favorite show as I am that it’s boring.

“What do you mean, boring? What about all the tits and violence? Just this last week there was like six tits and two beheadings and a crazy ice man. That one crazy lady put a leech on that one guy’s dick. The funny little guy got drunk and said something mean to King Joffrey. Boring? Are you crazy?”

I just mean it’s still only a TV show. I’m sorry. I am as surprised as anybody else is about this. I paid for HBO for the express purpose of being able to see this show. But then I forget about it all week long and Sunday comes around and I think, “Oh good, Game of Thrones is on tonight,” and I put it on and there are long stretches when I forget it’s on television and I get up and walk away and go do something else. After like eleven minutes of dicking around with my fantasy baseball team I think, “Wait a minute, what was I just doing?” And the answer is I was in the middle of watching my favorite TV show.  “Oh yeah, I’m watching Game of Thrones. Oh Goody.”

This could be an attention span problem. It could also be a problem with television as a medium. Maybe the problem is some convoluted cultural musing about how media is consumed in 2013, and how excitement for the idea of the thing takes on its own momentum and rips free of the context of the actual thing itself. It’s probably more likely that I’m changing and growing impatient with entertainment options which require any form of endurance on the part of the audience. I take exception to that. I don’t work for you. You’re a TV show. You work for me. Maybe I shouldn’t be so capricious, but it’s my time on Planet Earth, and I get to decide what to do with it. Maybe is the problem. Maybe the root cause of this is the hopelessly diffuse story.

“Well have you read the books?”

I’ve read the books. I like the books. They are also boring. The main point of them seems to be to impress upon the reader that life in medieval times was brutal and cheap, and that magic and wonder are often more terrifying than uplifting, and that simple pleasures are all anybody has to fall back on. For every lightning flash of Daenerys intrigue, the reader is forced to mire through interminable passages of Sansa Stark getting her feelings hurt. We are expected to have faith that our patience will be rewarded. Sansa will either become formidable in some way that Daenerys already is, a redundancy, or else she won’t, and we’ll be expected to forgive all the lugubriousness of her storyline as a grand blind alley or a heartbreaking Anne Frank allegory.

George R.R. Martin paints himself into corners. Using blood. And then, often, he just walks away, leaving sticky bloody footprints all over everything. I want badly for everything to tie together into the same nice neat little narrative, but it can’t. The world of Westeros is too complex. Everybody in it is going to have to die before everything settles down to the level it was at before Robert Baratheon visited Winterfell. Also: while talking about Game of Thrones, you end up saying things like “before Robert Baratheon visited Winterfell.” It’s too much.

“But Arya…”

Yeah man. And Bran. And a million other things. I know. I know what’s going to happen, and I can’t wait to see it. That’s the whole appeal of the TV show. It’s a long series of “oh yeah I forgot about that”s and “I don’t think it was like that in the books, maybe I should go back and check”s. Really I think Martin is using the TV show to make his next two novels into the biggest selling books since Gutenberg printed the bible. That guy is going to be ROLLING in it. That's the real incredible journey we're all on. When you play the Game of Thrones, either you win or you die, but before that you definitely make George R.R. Martin into a billionaire.

And then once it’s all done, we’re going to be standing around scratching our heads trying to remember what all the fuss was about like we do now anytime the Harry Potter movies are on HBO. I have HBO now. Harry Potter is always on it. I dare you to sit and watch a whole Harry Potter movie all the way through. You won’t be able to. You’ll find yourself dicking around with your fantasy baseball team for huge swaths of it. Because it’s boring.