Binge-Watching ‘Game of Thrones’

Two weeks ago, I hadn’t watched a single episode of ‘Game of Thrones’. Then I had cable installed in my new place and got three months of free HBO. So, my wife and I checked On-Demand and didn’t look back until we had binge-watched the entire first and second seasons of the show.

I’ve been sitting here thinking about the most striking compliment I could write for ‘Game of Thrones’ until it suddenly came to me. This TV show has made me want to read fantasy novels. That’s saying a lot. I don’t want to read just any fantasy novels; I just want to read George R.R. Martin’s novels. After you’re left hanging when a bunch of ice zombies, led by a shrieking frozen commander atop a zombie horse, threaten to kill every living thing they come into contact with, it’s a tad hard to wait until Season Three.

These thoughts may be random and somewhat schizophrenic, but that’s because I burned through two seasons of this show extremely quickly and I’m just recounting how I felt.

Oh yeah, and if you didn’t already guess, there will be a lot of spoilers after this. A lot! You’ve been warned.

The Beginning

I recommend binge-watching good television whenever possible. When will we finally move to a TV watching model where entire seasons are produced and ready to watch as soon as they’re available to be streamed? (It’ll be fun to see how this goes with the new season of ‘Arrested Development’ on Netflix.)

The first couple day, we watched maybe four or five episodes. Obviously, we became attached to the Starks right away, but I also found myself pulling for Daenerys Targaryen, the silver-haired beauty who got naked about a dozen different times in the first six episodes.

Immediately, I was overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the series. It has so many characters, so many plots, subplots, sub-subplots, etc. With more political maneuvering than just about every other politically-centered TV show combined, those first five episodes were exhausting. They’re worth it, but exhausting nonetheless.

The Characters

I’ve found myself rooting for a few people. At first, it’s hard not to pull for the Stark family, but as the show wears on, it seems as if the family’s goodness and propensity towards honor will ultimately be its downfall. Conventional storytelling methods don’t work in ‘Game of Thrones’. As Sansa says in ‘Blackwater’, referring to King Joffrey surviving the oncoming attack, “The worst ones always live.”

Daenerys is probably the character I hope will overcome everything. But knowing the show’s propensity for killing off main characters, I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets written out in a weird incestuous sex romp with her pet dragons. This is ‘Game of Thrones’, where literally anything is possible.

Even though I haven’t met him yet, I look forward to seeing who the king behind the wall turns out to be.

5. Arya Stark

4. Bronn

3. Jaqen H’ghar

2. Daenerys Targaryen

1. Tyrion Lannister

Also, it’s kind of hard not to pull for the leader of the ice zombies. Which leads me to…

Ice Zombies

Seriously, the show has ice zombies. How freaking cool is that? I’m on Team Ice Zombies.

Nothing Is Off Limits

Not a single subject is too taboo for ‘Game of Thrones’. Incest is a common occurrence that’s looked upon with slight indifference rather than outright disgust. My jaw dropped when the sorceress gave birth to a killer muff monster. That was a scene I would’ve thought ridiculous in any other show, but here I was genuinely terrified. Then I started thinking about the real origins of the Smoke Monster in ‘Lost’. Ick!

Even with the risqué nature of the series, it never feels like its subject matter is a desperate call for attention (like ‘Spartacus’ on Starz). Here, all the sexuality, familial loving and gruesome violence is crucial to the character development and the plot. Graphic sex scenes aren’t just there to titillate, but usually have deeper meanings to the characters and their stories.

Enjoyment

I’ve honestly never had so much fun with a show. ‘Game of Thrones’ is an encompassing fantasy world, intricately created by its author and the show-runners at HBO. The visual effects, especially for TV, are wonderfully done. That’s important because chintzy effects would’ve pulled me right out of the story.

After binge-watching, ‘Game of Thrones’ has quickly moved up my list of favorite TV shows. I’m mad that I have to wait until whenever the third season airs. Thank goodness for Comcast’s On-Demand feature, which let us watch ‘Game of Thrones’ back-to-back-to-back, legally.

Sometimes you just miss the boat on a show here and there. This was one of those times for me. Fortunately, I was able to rectify that quickly.

7 comments

  1. Aaron

    I’m glad you binged watched so you could absorb it all at once. I tire of every week after an episode where everyone with a keyboard and an internet connection become instant television critics.

    GoT is easily the best show on television. Season 1 was a super-faithful adaptation and season two made changes for the better IMHO. But you’ll here book fanboys whine about inconsequential things (“Renly wasn’t eating the peach!”).

    You were blessed to watch outside of the bubble of it being compared to the books, which you should read immediately!

    • Aaron Peck
      Author

      Reading them right now. I’m about 150 pages into the first book.

      I’m of the opinion that watching the show first is the way to go. Now I’m able to picture all the characters, the scenery, and the situations much easier.

      • Aaron

        I actually tell people that if you watched season 1, you don’t need to read the book. Like I said, it was an extremely faithful adaptation.

        There were things changed in season 2, but I didn’t mind a single one of them. Like when Danaerys’ dragons were stolen. When I read the book I always wondered: “If these things are so valuable, why aren’t these rich guys sending people in to steal them?”. I was pleasantly shocked that the show actually did this.

        They are changing little details (the whole Tywin/Arya thing isn’t in book 2, that was Roose Bolton if I remember correctly) for the sake of the show, but the main arc of the story is remaining the same.

        If book fans want perfection, READ THE BOOKS. Let the shows producers (Mr. Martin being one of them) want to change some things, let them. I just want a good show!

  2. The books are amazing – I am almost done with the 4th one now and they get better and better.

    The show is quite a bit different, but that keeps it interesting like what The Walking Dead is doing with the comics where the main plots are similar but the journeys are different.

    The worst part is waiting for the next season to come on!

  3. cxdx

    im having a very hard time getting through game of thrones.

    ive muscled through this boring incoherent rambling bullshit story halfway through the second season, where some psycho witch shits a ghost demon thing out of her vaj and prepares for a mini war over who will fight the king in the major war.

    all unbeknownst to any of them some crazy person (whos story that holds next to no meaning to anything yet, i know the dragons will become more prominent as they grow into maturity) walks the desert like moses just with no guidance or real purpose.

    and another group of outlanders in the north are preparing to invade to kill one family who is fighting against the king, but trying to recruit other families that want to fight eachother to see who can fight the king?!?!

    seriously this is the plot to “the greatest show on television”

    oh yea im leaving out the freaks and bastards at the wall protecting their realm from ice giants and snow walkers and zombies and wolves and all kinds of other shit that get this… wants to kill everyone.

    holy shit this show is terrible. all of that above is going on at the same time it switches back and forth constantly, you cant tell the difference between anyone because they all look the same (except the lannasters who all have pretty blonde hair.)

    i love a good tv show, but seriously…
    fuck this show.

    • cxdx

      im not always so negative about television, or movies. it just seems as of late everything has been banal, and just because something is critically acclaimed (someone telling you its good, not that it really is) its good even though its bad.

      kind of like the dark knight rises. its good because its christopher nolans final batman film right? after a 3rd viewing its really not so good. “heresy”

      but thats just how entertainment has become in my eyes. someone tells the masses something is good so it has to be good no matter what. someone tells you people are famous (jersey shore retards, kardashians, paris hilton, etc.) they must be famous and special and regarded as celebrities for no reason at all.

      am i right or just over thinking societal media conventions to manipulate?

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