So in a surprise to no one, I love Game of Thrones. I’ve read all the books (hikes glasses held together by masking tape up on the nose) and generally adore the show so I won’t pretend this isn’t biased. I mean pretty much any show that promises boobies and blades my ass is in a seat for. Camelot, Rome, The Tudors I mean, shit, I even watched Spartacus after Andy Whitfield passed away and that show was basically an M-Rated video game.* That all being said, GoT has done something groundbreaking in that it is a world driven drama, not character driven.
Now I know that sounds…let’s go with pompous but if you really think about it it’s probably the least douchey way to explain what I mean succinctly but I’ll spell it out after the jump. In GoT its Westeros that is the true main character. It’s about the fate of the kingdom not any one character or person. That is why no one is safe and literally anything can happen. It’s not about Jon Snow’s destiny, or Arya being a badass or Joffery being a punk bitch. It’s about how their actions impact the kingdom they live in and that is awesome.
Why is that awesome? Basically because I can’t think of a show that has ever been structured like that. Even taking GoT’s critical contemporaries let’s say, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and House of Cards; they all follow basically a similar formula. You’ve got this main character, and you follow his story, you learn his weaknesses, his strengths, his passions, his motivations, everything the writers want you to be drawn to. They become the centerpiece, the driving force. Sure there are other main characters but they are secondary to this almost cult-like figure that is being portrayed (I mean if we are being honest we are devoting hours of our lives to listen and watch a complete stranger basically talk and teach life lessons which is, um, the definition of a cult). They are the vehicle for the show. Whether its Don’s pitches, Walter’s inventive schemes, or the lengths at which Frank Underwood will go to for power, we are tuning in to see what they will do. That’s the exact opposite of what Game of Thrones is doing. You are watching that show to see what Westeros does to the characters.
Think about it. Did anyone ever think that Walter White was going to die in Season 1? How about Don? Or Frank? Of course you didn’t. That wasn’t the formula. Game of Thrones ended that notion as soon as Ned was relieved of his head. This is a show where the characters are more like wrestlers in the Royal Rumble and you have no idea who is going to go flying out of the ring and that is fucking UNREAL.
Too badass to die/Writers are cowards
I mean its nice to have a show where characters aren’t getting written off because of a contract dispute like those godforsaken CSI bullshit shows. Its absolutely absurd that their plot twists are basically driven by actors throwing bitch fits because the writers are too scared to confuse their 45-ancient demo that apparently laps that shit up and may get confused if it isn’t the same five faces yapping about semen discovery every Tuesday.
Game of Thrones is awesome because its got nuts. Because George R.R. Martin, the series author, had the nuts to cut major characters like ripe wheat before the sickle and the show’s writers were smart enough not to fuck with it when they went to bake their show bread.
That last sentence didn’t make sense but roll with it.
But this isn’t even why Game of Thrones is truly awesome. It’s awesome because the formula is a hit and HBO knows it. Evidence, you ask? Just look on the very same channel. True Detective. Marty and Rust aren’t coming back and they were beloved. It’s The Wire but with the GoT disposable main characters. The focus isn’t on the lead detectives so much but instead its on the world they live in; the dirty, gritty, gruesome, disturbed world of serial killers and the lawmen who are trained to understand and catch them.
What does this mean? Well for one thing, it wasn’t an accident. HBO clearly saw what GoT was doing and decided to throw the dice again and its paid off. I’d say expect the next season of True Detective to throw some GoT-style departures into it and watch the ratings soar. Also, that the television drama based on the enigmatic main character will become an inferior product compared to the kickassery and freedom of the world driven drama.
*To be fair the first season of Spartacus was great. All the ass you could ask for plus a ton of violence and a pretty decent plot. It was a bit soap opera-y, like a Downton Abbey with titties and togas, but still, very solid showing from Starz.