Game of Thrones is great television

05 Jun 2012

It’s really easy to dismiss television at crass lowest-common-denominator content. Usually this belief arises from turning on your television at nearly any given time, but that’s like typing in random web addresses to see what’s on the internet. Despite being raised on (by?) The Simpsons I never watched a lot of television shows until getting enticed by Battlestar Galactica, then Lost, The Wire, and now Game of Thrones.

If a movie is like a song, then a television series is like an album. You can have a great song, but if a band can maintain quality and tie some central theme through an entire album, you end up with a much more fulfilling experience. The length of a television season allows for character depth and complexity in storytelling that’s just not possible with a two or three hour film.

Game of Thrones is such an example. A lot of friends I’ve spoken to expect something like Lord of the Rings, but this does not do the show justice. It’s more about complex relationships between powerful forces vying for their own conflicting goals. Fantasy’s most successful trope is good vs evil, and contrary to what I thought when the show started, Game of Thrones does not fall into this rut. One of my favourite aspects is how much the show makes me hate a character then a couple episodes later makes me sympathise with them. Characters sometimes do terrible things, but it’s not because they’re ‘evil’; you’ll learn their motivations for their actions soon enough.

I think my favourite part of the show is also possibly the biggest flaw: the size and complexity of the world. The first season focuses on about four different groups of people, making it initially confusing to match up who is who and later frustrating when your favourite characters didn’t get any screen time, and the second season only adds more parties into the mix. That said, the lack of hand-holding feels like respect given to the viewer, and the complexity allowed from the interaction between all the different groups is really where the series shines.

The second season just ended which means it’s a great time to watch the entire show without those pesky week-long waits between episodes (possibly alleviating the feeling of too-many-characters-to-fit-into-one-hour I mentioned in the previous paragraph!). Look past the tits and violence if that’s not your sort of thing because there’s a truly rewarding show undernearth.

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