Game of Thrones is the newest HBO epic, based on the fantasy saga by George R.R. Martin. After a very successful (and enormously expensive) first season in 2011, the second season started airing on April 1st in the United States.
Like most successful books with a big fanbase that gets turned into a television show, this one has gained a lot of interest too, especially on the Internet. Basically there are two reasons for this:
1: Like every major production nowadays, Game of Thrones has a PR budget that equals the Gross National Product of a small country. And since we live in a digital world, most of the money is spent online with the result of creating an even bigger hype than there already is.
2: It’s common knowledge that the fantasy genre is basically crack for nerds; with the World Wide Web being first and foremost a gigantic nerd-playground, lots of websites hope to get shitloads of clicks just by having anything Game of Thrones-related in the headline.
And this is what sucks: Every media outlet blogs or writes about the TV show in order to get a piece of the cake or in fear of missing out on the next big thing.
But the problem is, aside from the extraordinarily compelling story and some facts regarding the production (an estimated fifty-million dollars just for the first episode, a great cast of well-known actors, an extravagant setting – all that has already been covered during the first season) there isn’t much to talk about when it comes to Game of Thrones. Unlike most other HBO shows, there is no meta-level to the story, which is set in a medieval universe with castles, swordsmen, big battles, and yeah, dragons. This may come as a surprise to all the critics who enjoyed other epic TV shows like The Wire (highly acclaimed for it’s realism and critical social commentary), Six Feet Under (highly acclaimed for it’s seemingly real life focus and it’s circling around the question “What is the meaning of life?”), Battlestar Galactica and many others. Game of Thrones is nothing like that.
The only connection to other modern series is the TV show’s explicitness, and the way it gets rid of a romanticized image of a certain fantasy age. What Deadwood did to our idea of the Wild West, what Rome meant for the ancient world and Blade Runner for science fiction, Game of Thrones has done for the medieval fantasy world. There are no hobbits, no benevolent sorcerer, and certainly no elves in Westeros, but lots of elaborate characters with personalities and allegiances beyond the black-and-white, good-and-evil molds that characterize so much of the genre.
So please, media outlets: stop covering Game of Thrones by just rehashing the episodes. The show itself is always much better than your boring recap.
Published April 12, 2012.