We’d been looking forward to watching Game of Thrones for some time. If The Hobbit films haven’t scratched our epic fantasy-adventure itch, surely this über-popular mega-hit HBO series would rub it right off.
Well, after recording that rather ill-conceived “Facebook Quizzes” episode, Dan left us with the first season of GoT. I can’t help feeling that was a sort of Lord Baelish giving-us-the-rope-to-hang-ourselves-with move on his part. Surprisingly—maybe not to you, but surprising to us—we didn’t like it. Now he’s put us in the position of trash talking everyone’s favourite show.
While visions of torches and pitchforks haunt my dreams, we’ve (as yet) received surprisingly little listener hate-mail. Why not listen below and maybe you can be inspired to fashion pike to stick our heads on.
In case we didn’t argue our case well enough on the episode, below are a few of the reasons we didn’t like the show.
1. It’s boring.
Okay, you can’t just say, “It’s boring” and pretend like that’s any kind of critique. Though I have to admit that’s about all we say on the podcast . So here’s why we weren’t engaged.
2. No context.
I wanted to care about the Starks and the Baratheons and the Lannisters and the Targaryens, but I was putting in more effort gathering the historical breadcrumbs of the current political situation to understand why I should care. Who are they? What have they got to gain? What have they got to lose? What’s at stake? What are their obstacles?
There’s a reason fantasy epics usually hand-feed you a nicely tied-up prologue at the beginning. It’s so that, say, when you’re told Jon Arryn is dead, you know the hell that is and why anyone might care and what the political implications are for the kingdom—a kingdom whose governmental structure you know next to nothing about.
As far as you know at the start of episode one, Winterfell is the seat of power and Ned is the King. Then you’re shown King’s Landing and you realize there’s either another King or Ned isn’t King. Are they at war with Winterfell or is Winterfell part of the same kingdom? And who are these blonde kids hanging out in Greece (is this Greece? What planet are we even on? Apparently one with decades-long seasons, so… not Earth? No, clearly not, okay. Good. I have it figured out now. Oh, wait, I just missed a whole scene of dialogue because I was thinking about the damn planet.) and what throne are they talking about reclaiming? Ned’s? Roberts? A different one? Who was their dad? Is their dad the vaguely alluded to Mad King? What the hell’s going on?
Now, obviously this is eventually all explained well enough for anyone with half a brain to get the lay of the land. But for a price. And that price is…
3. Too much expository jibba-jabba.
Because the context wasn’t established in the beginning with a nice little prologue, pretty much every single scene for the first several episodes is two or more characters explaining the political situation to each other. This is terrible for a number of reasons.
- They’d already be well acquainted with most of this information and it feels clunky (and boring) to have them explain it to each other.
- There’s no time to establish relationships and character dynamics. When the characters are bound by having to give the audience history lessons, they lack the screen-time to develop three-dimensional personalities and this makes it difficult (if not impossible) to care about them and more so their political struggles. In the end the writers have to rely on hackneyed, one-dimensional character archetypes. Jaime Lannister = the douchebag; Lord Baelish = the Machiavellian; Ned = the reluctant king; Cersei = the Lady Macbeth; Joffrey = the bratty prince; Arya = the tomboy…. Throughout the season, none of them ever break from these singular character traits and show us a second, deeper side. Only Tyrion Lannister is multifaceted (though due to Peter Dinklage‘s prowess methinks, and not the writers’) and Daenerys Targaryen is the only character who has an arc—from meek, innocent and unsure of herself, to wild, determined and self-assured.
- They spend so much time explaining the political situation and history in their dialogue, there’s no room for actual intrigue in the dialogue. Ostensibly, especially when there’s apparently no budget to actually show any of the battles, GoT should work best when it delves into the devilishly machinated Machiavellian intrigue of the King’s court. But no, when Baelish or Cersei are whispering in a dark corner with another character, too often they’re not actually weaving tangled webs, but merely explaining to each other why they should weave a web sometime in the future, perhaps (like the battles) off-screen. Since there won’t be time for those scenes because…
4. HBO apparently stands for Highly Boob Obsessed.
You can expect a certain amount of sexy times in any HBO series. And, hey, no complaints. But the nudity and sex in Game of Thrones feels gratuitous and shoe-horned in.
For instance, there is always a justification for the sex in True Blood. Maybe there’s no real reason we need to see Sookie naked, but it’s always in context and at least tied to a plot point. When people bang in True Blood, there’s always consequences. At the very least, it shows us something of their character.
In Game of Thrones, the sex rarely has any bearing on anything and after the first time we see various characters in the company of prostitutes, there’s not much more to learn about them in that regard. Not every bit of nudity or sex in GoT is gratuitous, but the ratio is out-of-whack even by HBO standards.
Maybe I’m getting old, but I’d rather a scene where I got to know any of the characters a little better than one that’s only an excuse to show me some (more) tits.
5. There was just something cornball about it all.
Basically, I couldn’t think of anything but Bad Lip Reading‘s Medieval Land Fun-Time World while watching it.
… and thinking that movie would be a lot less boring.