It was the biggest small screen phenomenon of the 2010s. Each season, nay, episode, was an event. Discussion of the show would flood social media every night the show aired and the morning after. Premiere parties were thrown. Cosplays were made. Memes were created. Game of Thrones was a cultural icon.
I didn’t make it past the first season.
Game of Thrones was a young show when I stumbled upon it. Season one had recently ended, and I heard rave things about the editing, the production value, the music, the acting, and more. I was told by friends that the show was shocking and would blow my mind; that I’d never be able to see what’s coming next. I jumped in.
As I watched the opening scene, I noted how elaborate the setting was and how detailed the costumes were. Dead bodies started to appear, and soon I was watching a man get decapitated. As his head was tossed into frame, I remember thinking: “this feels like it’s trying to shock me.” Maybe I was biased by having been told I won’t know what to expect, but the trend of feeling like the show was constantly trying to blow my mind persisted, both in the show’s imagery and jarring character actions.
Westeros isn’t our world, and the premiere needs to establish the environment the story is taking place in. The more shocking the violence, the better we’ll understand what kind of awful place Westeros is. It establishes a world where no good man stands a chance and you never know what’s going to happen next, and it really establishes this. By the time the premiere “Winter is Coming” ends, viewers have witnessed multiple beheadings, rape, incest, and (attempted) child murder. Yes, Jaime Lannister pushes 10-year-old Bran out the window in the final shot of the episode.
This cliffhanger didn’t grip me. It left me disliking Jamie a hell of a lot, that’s for sure, but I wasn’t dashing to hit play on the next episode. I didn’t care all that much about Bran, so the fact that he may now be dead didn’t affect me. It was a bit of a bummer that he’s a child, for sure, but asides from just not being invested in the characters yet, it felt again as if the show was trying to shock me with its brutality. As I understand it, this moment had massive implications on the story to come, so to say it was there for shock value only would be completely false. In the framework of the episode, though, there had already been so much emphasis on stunning me that it was impossible to distinguish between a plot development and a moment meant for shock value, even if in theory they were intertwined.
This only got worse as the season went on, as the White Walkers and the beheading in the premiere weren’t followed up on. Bran’s storyline also seemed stagnant as he developed amnesia after the fall. The lack of follow up made me question the point of these moments. The blood, violence, and nudity continued as well, and the intense imagery began to make me numb to shocking plot points and character twists. They melted into each other, each trying to outdo the other in blowing my mind. Between watching an innocent canine get slaughtered, watching Danearys eat a heart, and witnessing Little Finger’s betrayal, Ned Stark’s death became just another moment. I wasn’t surprised by this development because the show had trained me to expect these twists.
Part of what makes a twist effective is the pulling of the rug from under your feet. You realize that things aren’t what you thought they were, and now the status quo has changed. Due to Game of Thrones’ method of storytelling, there didn’t seem to be a status quo. Season one established a world with no rug, so I was unable to get comfortable with any situation or any scenario.
This style made the show prime “edge of your seat” viewing, and for some viewers, that lack of security made the ride thrilling, but for me, it felt like there was nothing to hold on to. With Game of Thrones’ “no one is safe” philosophy, I found it hard to become invested in anyone’s story. You win or die when you play the Game of Thrones, so at any moment their story could come to an end to serve the larger purpose of the show. This isn’t to say that the show never put character at the forefront. It may have; again, I didn’t watch so I don’t know. The emphasis on head trauma and blowing minds in season one, however, implied to me that the show’s priorities were different than my own.
That’s not to say that I hated it. There are several aspects of the first season I enjoyed. I loved that Ned’s role in the story advanced the theme that those who are noble and play by the rules are doomed to fail. Arya seemed pretty cool, and I liked her dog that was still alive. She was so loyal! I considered watching the second season for Tyrion alone (I had my poor sister update me on Tyrion’s journey every week).
I almost jumped back onto the show several times over the last eight years; four times to be precise. Once when I saw the trailer for season two and heard Varys say to Tyrion, “A small man can cast a large shadow.” Once when I heard that Joffrey got poisoned in season four, cause he was annoying AF. Once when a girl I was into was more into Game of Thrones than she was me. And lastly when season eight was starting, because I bought into a Game of Thrones pool at my sister’s office and wanted to see how I did (I did pretty well). Unfortunately, the characters I was invested in weren’t enough to balance out my fear that the characters would end up serving the show, nor enough for me to put up with the gratuitous violence and the diminishing returns of the shocking moments.
I kept tabs, though. I was curious about how the show would manage to keep surprising its audience in any meaningful way since I had already been conditioned to expect the unexpected in season one. From what I could gather, it’s almost as if the show became a game itself. Viewers guessed about who would die and when, and speculated over who would obtain the throne, hence my sister’s office pool. Between The Red Wedding, Battle of the Bastards, and “hold the door;” Game of Thrones consistently swerved, shocked, and impressed the audience, or at least that’s what my news feed implied. However, that sort of thrill ride can compromise a story.
The promise of the unexpected cannot hold universally true if you want to tell a coherent story. Even with dozens of smaller characters, a story will always center around the few meaningful pieces: Danaerys, Jon Snow, Arya, Cersei, my boy Tyrion, etc. The Game of Thrones writers knew this, which is why every name above made it through 8 seasons, and innately most viewers know this, which is why everyone knew Jon Snow wouldn’t stay dead. These are the characters audiences are intended to hold on to, but if your storytelling philosophy relies so heavily on shock and a constantly shifting status quo, what happens to these characters when your plot lines start to wrap up? What happens when the answers are provided, the pieces are in place, and all that’s left to watch is the main players finish their arcs? Characters may end up getting sacrificed to maintain the ride. This is where the crux of my fears and the decision to stop watching lied. After wrapping up the first season, I felt that eventually the characters I was interested in would become subject to the machine, sacrificed to keep the engine that powered Game of Thrones running.
I didn’t want to get invested in a character’s story only to have them literally axed in the middle of their arc. I didn’t want to watch Tyrion lose his swagger because the plot needed him in a different place than he would want to be. And I didn’t want to watch more beheadings, rape, and thirteen-year-olds drink out of their mom’s.
I don’t know if characters were sacrificed for plot or philosophy at any point after season one. Considering all the praise Game of Thrones got, I imagine they weren’t, at least not until the last two seasons. The conversation around season seven got heated (I remember a lot of talk about characters warping across the continent), and the internet erupted in season eight. What I saw was mostly negative, such as characters acting out of character, plot lines being rushed, and arguments over the difference between foreshadowing and character development. I don’t know if these complaints were the realization of my initial fears or completely unrelated. I will never know for sure.
I never made it past the first season.
What to Watch
Summer 2023 TV Lineup Schedule – Time to Heat Up the Summer
It’s time to heat up the summer with plenty of new and returning TV shows.
The summer months are, obviously, best spent outside enjoying the warm weather, unlimited BBQs, and pools and beaches, but when you’re ready for a little getaway, TV shows and characters are always around to keep you entertained.
With the WGA strike possibly continuing into the fall, summer television might be the last time we get any new seasons for the next few months, so embrace it.
As always, the slower-paced summer months are also the best time to catch up on any shows that you’ve been wanting to watch!
Here’s what’s on tap for summer 2023—let us know what you plan to watch in the comments!
30 for 30: The American Gladiators Documentary (May 30, ESPN)
The Ride (May 30, Prime Video)
Drag Me to Dinner (May 31, Hulu)
Nancy Drew, season 4 (May 31, The CW)
Manifest – season 4 part 2 (Netflix, June 2)
The Idol (HBO, June 4)
The Lazarus Project (June 4, TNT)
Cruel Summer, season 2 (Freeform, June 5)
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, season 16 (FX, June 7)
The Real Housewives of Orange County, season 17 (June 7, Bravo)
Alone, season 10 (History Channel, June 8)
Based on a True Story (Peacock, June 8)
Never Have I Ever, season 4 (Netflix, June 8)
The Crowded Room (Apple TV+, June 9)
The Full Monty (FX and Hulu, June 14)
The Big D (June 14, USA)
Temptation Island, season 5 (June 14, USA)
The Wonder Years, season 2 (June 14, ABC)
Project Runway, season 20 (June 15, Bravo)
Outlander, season 7 (June 16, Starz)
The Walking Dead: Dead City (June 18, AMC)
The Righteous Gemstones, season 3 (HBO, June 18)
Secret Invasion (Disney+, June 21)
The Bear, season 2 (FX, June 22)
I’m a Virgo (Prime Video, June 23)
2023 BET Awards (June 25, BET)
The Bachelorette, season 20 (June 26, ABC)
Grown-ish, season 6 (June 28, Freeform)
Hijack (Apple TV+, June 28)
The Witcher, season 3, part 1 (Netflix, June 29)
Warrior, season 3 (June 29, Max)
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, season 4 (June 30, Prime Video)
And Just Like That …, season 2 (HBO Max, June TBD)
Black Mirror, season 6 (Netflix, June TBD)
The Horror of Delores Roach (July 7, Prime Video)
The Prank Panel (July 9, ABC)
The Afterparty, season 2 (Apple TV+, July 12)
Full Circle (Max, July 13)
Foundation, season 2 (Apple TV+, July 14)
The Summer I Turned Pretty, season 2 (July 14, Prime Video)
The Real Housewives of New York City, season 14 (Bravo, July 16)
Justified: City Primeval (FX, July 18)
Minx, season 2 (Starz, July 21)
Praise Petey (Freeform, July 21)
The Witcher, season 3, part 2 (Netflix, July 27)
Good Omens, season 2 (July 28, Prime Video)
Heels, season 2 (July 28, Starz)
Survival of the Thickest (July TBD, Netflix)
Reservation Dogs, season 3 (FX on Hulu, August 2)
Heartstopper, season 2 (Netflix, August 3)
Only Murders in the Building (Hulu, August 8)
Painkiller (Netflix, August 10)
The Upshaws, season 4 (August 17, Netflix)
Archer season 14 (August 30, FXX)
Ahsoka (Disney+, August TBA)
As for what we can look forward to in the fall and beyond, well, Lupin Season 3 is scheduled for October 3 on Netflix. Other shows in the works without premiere dates include Bridgerton Season 3 and The Crown Season 6 on Netflix, Ironheart and Loki on Disney+ and Gen V on Prime Video!
What to Watch
Memorial Day Weekend: 5 Best TV Shows to Binge-Watch
Break out the red, white, and blue because it’s Memorial Day weekend.
The holiday, honoring and remembering fallen military personnel, is typically characterized by a three-day weekend consisting of parades and outdoor grilling.
But if you’re planning to kickstart summer indoors, there are plenty of great shows and movies to binge-watch with friends, family, or even solo!
You can opt for some Memorial Day-themed movies, or you use this time to finally get around to that “one show” you’ve been meaning to watch! Or even use this time wisely to catch up on shows that will be dropping new seasons in the next few weeks/months.
If you’re looking around for new shows to feed your eyeballs, look no further than this list of must-watch during Memorial Day weekend shows that are all streaming RIGHT NOW!
Manifest – Netflix
The last 10 episodes of the groundbreaking plane drama are preparing for landing on June 2, which. means that this is the perfect weekend to catch up on all this Manifest. Where did the passengers of Flight 828 go when they disappeared for 5 years?
Sweet Magnolias – Netflix
It’s almost time to return to Serenity to catch up with your three best gal pals, Maddie, Dana Sue, and Helen. The beloved Netflix drama just announced a summer premiere, so this is your time to binge all the episodes you haven’t seen yet!
How I Met Your Father – Hulu
HIMYF, the Hilary Duff-led HIMYM spinoff, is one of the biggest sitcoms on TV right now. Along with its promising cast, it delivers a fast-paced yet quirky and hilarious storyline that makes it a breeze to watch during a long weekend.
Cruel Summer – Freeform
Love a good mystery? So do we. And Cruel Summer, which was a breakout hit in 2021 when it dropped its first season, kept audiences on their toes right down to the last minute of the season. The first season of the drama—spanning three different summers—focused on Kate Wallis, a popular teen who goes missing, and Jeanette Turner, a dorky outlier who is accused of knowing who abducted Kate and keeping it a secret. Which one of them do we believe? Binge all seven episodes and prepare for the arrival of season 2 in June!
The Bear – Hulu
There may be a lot happening in Jeremy Allen White’s personal life right now, but that shouldn’t deter you from enjoying Hulu’s The Bear, where he plays a young chef from the fine dining world who comes to run his family’s sandwich shop following a death in the family. There’s a lot to dig into with this one, including White’s poignant performance and an organic chemistry with the cast.
YOU Review – Portrait of the Artist (402)
And the murder mystery continues on YOU Season 4 Episode 2.
Joe, er, Jonathan, has been going above and beyond to figure out which of the members of the elitist circle could be the murderer that’s trying to frame him, but it looks like he’s being played at his own game.
Honestly, it’s kind of refreshing to see Joe on the other side of things for once—running around terrified like a chicken without a head and trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle.
He’s not in a city that’s familiar to him, and he’s definitely not in his element. And while he fell into a friends circle of some of the most insane and damaged people on earth, his charm isn’t working on them or in his favor in the same way that it has countless times before.
And what’s making this all the more disturbing is that there’s someone out there that’s actually more deranged than Joe. Joe pales in comparison to the person that’s stabbing people left and right and keeping body parts as tokens of some sort, likely to frame Joe in the long run by planting those body pieces on his belongings or in his apartment.
The person is hiding in plain sight and utilizing all common and familiar murder mystery tropes, including that the second victim is always the first suspect.
The crimes are gruesome and terrible, but it’s also hard to feel bad for any of the victims as the whole bunch—maybe aside from Rhys—is genuinely unlikable. Mostly everyone in the wealthy group has no redeeming qualities, and most of them don’t even seem too phased by the deaths in their inner circle because the truth is that none of these shallow people actually like or care about each other.
YOU does a great job at making us question Joe’s sanity and then immediately introducing people who are even worse than him, proving that the world seems to be full of unhinged people everywhere you go.
Joe doesn’t have much to go on at the end of episode 2 as every single person he’s come across could potentially be the killer. He has, however, seemingly figured out some kind of connection between Malcolm and Simon’s deaths, though it’s unclear if that has any bearing on their deaths.
Blackmail seems to be a common thread, with Malcolm likely blackmailing Adam, who fancies himself a golden shower from the bus boys at his establishment, while planning to take down Simon, a fraud who stole artists’ work to pass off as his own. Joe learned the truth about Simon from his assistant, who crashed the opening and threw red paint at him (he had it coming). She also confirmed that Malcolm was trying to expose him, and while she definitely has the motive, I don’t think she would stoop that low. She wanted to make a statement—she didn’t want to be the statement.
At this point, the only person who stands to gain anything from the destruction of both men is Kate as she was in a relationship with Malcolm and a gallery partner with Simon, whose secrets threatened her career. But I’m not convinced that she’s responsible. She genuinely seems like one of the only good and level-headed people in the group, not to mention she’s also concerned about Malcolm’s disappearance meaning she likely has no idea he’s dead.
It could’ve been Adam to keep his sexual kink a secret, but I don’t think he’d have it in him.
The timing of Roald’s arrival was suspect, as was his immediate distaste for Jonathan, so I’ll keep him on the list. Joe may be the new guy, but he shows up right before the second murder.
If I truly had to put my money on someone, my prime suspect is still Rhys. There’s just something off about him, plus, he carries himself as if he’s above them all, so it would make sense if he was trying to make them pay for their sins or something. He’s also very observant, thus, he’d be knowledgeable about all of their deepest and darkest secrets, which could be used against them. It would also make sense that he used his status and smarts to dig up dirt about Joe.
The killer seems to be having an absolute blast toying with Joe, even beating him at his own game by figuring out his identity.
It sent a chill down Joe’s spine—and I didn’t think it was possible to freak Joe out. In an attempt to stay ahead of the killer, Joe is somehow trying to play catch up.
What if it’s Marienne? What if she’s turning the tables on him? It seems like the killer is using Joe’s psychological warfare against him, which means that they have a lot in common. It has to be someone that Joe has connected with on a personal level already, so aside from Rhys and Kate, that leaves Nadia rounding out the top three suspects. She’s been helping him figure out the murder mystery genre, which might be a clue as to her involvement. Plus, we find out that she had some kind of personal relationship with Malcolm, though it’s unclear if it was sexual.
I really hope that she’s just a genuine person helping her teacher, but at this point, we can’t rule anything out.
And finally, there’s the possibility of Adam and Phoebe’s security guard, Vic, who is silent but deadly. He sees everything that’s happening (he ticks off the observant box for sure) but doesn’t say anything, though we know he’s not above blackmail because when he catches Joe snooping around, he takes a lump sum of money to remain quiet.
What did you think of the episode? Who do you think the killer is?
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel1 week ago
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Series Finale Review – Four Minutes (509)
- Quiz6 days ago
QUIZ: Which ‘Nancy Drew’ Character Are You?
- What to Watch1 week ago
Memorial Day Weekend: 5 Best TV Shows to Binge-Watch
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel2 weeks ago
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – The Princess and the Plea (508)
- Netflix3 weeks ago
When Is Season 3 of ‘Ginny and Georgia’ Coming Out?
- Chicago P.D2 weeks ago
Is Adam Ruzek Leaving ‘Chicago PD’?
- Coffee Table News5 days ago
When Does ‘Manifest’ Season 4 Part 2 Release on Netflix?
- Riverdale4 days ago
Riverdale Review – American Graffiti (710)