TripAdvisor: Westeros

« September 2014 »

Memo to the audience: SORRY ABOUT THIS.

It took me three weeks to watch all four seasons of Game of Thrones, thanks to Comcast giving me three months of HBO for being awful. As a result, my brain is full of the pop-culture nerd phenomenon that a bunch of you have been obsessed with since 2011. And the only way to exorcise these demons is to type them out here.

Needless to say, I never read the books. When it comes to things that are my thing, serieses of 800-page fantasy novels devoted largely to politics are definitively not my thing. And I'd never bothered with the series as a result. Well, that plus I'd heard it was really rapey.

But friends and relatives were watching it and recommending it, and the WWE network's been a little slow content-wise lately, so I plowed on through.

The show has a lot going for it. Peter Dinklage, production values, Peter Dinklage, plenty of plot, Peter Dinklage, gratuitous nudity and violence, Peter Dinklage, and, of course, we can't forget Peter Dinklage. But this is not where we talk about things we like.

Forty hours is a long time to spend in what may be the single most uniformly awful place in the history of human literature. The defining moment of the show is not Sean Bean's fate, or the Red Wedding. It's a moment early in Season 4. A peasant is bragging to his son about how well his wife boils potatoes, and then he gets an arrow through the neck. That's it. Going about his business, and for the crime of enjoying potatoes in Westeros, he gets an arrow through the neck. That's Westeros in a nutshell.

Now, I'm not saying I have a problem, necessarily, with a brutal world where death is meted out frequently and often arbitrarily. But that's ALL THERE IS. You have no sense that any of it means anything. The startlingly small number of people motivated by stuff like this to make Westeros a better place are incompetent, lying about it, or, in the best case scenario, dead failures.

I mean, I've got a fairly cynical, fairly nihilistic mindset compared to the general population, and after 40 episodes, the relentless awfulness of it all was draining. How the fuck do so many other people get into it?

I get that it's different. I get that it can be refreshing to have no real protagonist, nobody to really root for, major characters dying by the truckload. But after 40 episodes of it, it's not refreshing anymore, it's predictable. If things are going well for someone, they'll be going badly in another episode or two. If things are going badly for someone, things'll be a lot worse in a couple of episodes.

And may a whole bunch of fake gods help you if you dare to like potatoes.