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.
Over the last decade everyone has been making a fuss about how TV-series are becoming more important and innovative than big screen movies. This is totally wrong. Even though both use moving pictures, they are two quite different forms. It’s like comparing a 7 verse poem to a 500 pages epos or a one page comic in a newspaper to a graphic novel.
That said I hereby present you my top five TV shows this year.
5. Beavis and Butthead Season 9
Forget about any fuckin reunion of any given band on earth. Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead is the comeback of the year. What I’ve seen so far, was more than great, which is why Charlie and the Gang haven’t been in my year’s end list for seven years now.
4. Louie Season 2
The second season of stand up comedian Louis CK started with a big fart and made me cry in the last episode. In-between there have been more touching scenes than in all seasons of Six feet under together.
3. Game of Thrones Season 1
It’s been epic. Not only in terms of money (allegedly the pilot alone cost more than 20 million dollars) the cast (from Sean Bean as Ned Stark to any given squire, all the actors were brilliant), but regarding the story. George R.R. Martin works on a seven books long fantasy series and HBO turned book one into the first season of an epic TV show. There is much more to come!
2. Workaholics Season 2
Season 1 was so so, but season 2 turned Workaholics in the most fun TV show this year. Blake, Adam and Anders are three post graduate mid 20ies guys who work at a telemarketing company and share a house. The humor is as stupid as it sounds, but it works. Also great: guest appearances of guys like Tyler, the Creator and his gang among many others.
1. Homeland Season 1
Originally an Israeli TV show (like the great In Treatment), a team around Howard-24-Gordan developed it for the American market. And like no TV show before it turned all our fears into 10 episodes ala 50 minutes of pure thrilling entertainment. You never guess what’s coming next yet nevertheless it’s always plausible. In addition to that it features performances by Claire Danes and Damian Lewis and is one of the best in TV show’s history.
Haven’t seen more than two seasons of Breaking Bad though.