Saturday, April 11, 2015

Why You Should Watch Game of Thrones (No Major Spoilers)

All images in this post were downloaded from Google Images.

If you're not watching Game of Thrones on HBO, then stop reading.
Go to your family room, pick up the remote, and record the series. Or if you're techno savvy, stop reading, go to the app on your phone and record it remotely. Go on, I'll wait.

Still waiting.

Waiting some more...some of us are DVR challenged....

OK. Now I'll tell you why you just did what you did. This show, which we binge watched during the winter months, is quite possibly the best series ever produced on TV. It rivals The Sopranos. It is so entertaining I find myself thinking about the story line and characters days after I've watched an episode. Sunday night can't arrive fast enough - I can't wait to view episode one of Season Five.

For the non-believers, I'll give you nine good reasons why you must watch Game of Thrones. And I encourage you to ask around. Watchers of the show will back me on this. I promise you won't be disappointed.

1. Dynamic Characters
Never before in a TV show have there been more dynamic characters. The characters who garner hate in Season One earn your respect and admiration by Season Three. Similarly, the sweet and innocent  characters of Season One spiral into ruthless, patronizing killers by Season Four. It's very simple. If any character whether inherently good or evil remains static, they are gruesomely and unexpectedly offed.

Nasty villains haunt every scene in this show. In Season Two, an evil scoundrel takes over an entire region by brutally seizing the castle and violently killing prominent members of society. This guy is so ruthless and vile his own crew betrays him, handing him over to an even more loathsome brute who takes joy in physically and psychologically torturing him to near death. The new creep takes psychopath to an all time high, to the point you actually feel sorry for the original bad guy and will him to escape. When he gets his chance, he remains loyal to his new master, who clearly has a psychological hold over him, leaving you aghast and filled with dread. Meanwhile, betrayal runs rampant in the capital city between the king and his council, and the heroine of the south vehemently adheres to the eye for an eye philosophy as she rises to power. Even the children in this show, and there are plenty of talented child-actors in GOT, become practiced at the art of survival, relying on manipulation and betrayal on the road to personal safety. There's a little bit of villain in everyone in this series, and watching the characters evolve adds to the intricate sub-plots within the overall story.

2. A Simple Plot, with Twisted, Complicated Sub-Plots
If you're expecting to drink cocktails and eat dinner while texting your friends and watching this show, go ahead and flip over to reruns of the Kardashians. This epic story requires you to think. Overall, the plot is ridiculously simple - a bunch of egomaniacs are competing for and fighting to rule the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros by sitting atop the Iron Throne.
It's the subplots that require heavy thinking and take your breath away with unpredictability. Some of the subplot story lines are so unbelievable you'll actually be questioning your own head while watching it. "Is that man actually having sex? With her? But isn't she his SISTER? OHMYGOSH! Did he just shove that kid out of a balcony window?"
The answer is yes. Yes to all of it, in a matter of minutes. And you sadistically watch to see what unbelievable element unfolds next.

3. Realistic, but not real
At first blush, the show seems to take place in the middle ages in Europe. It soon becomes clear that there are seven kingdoms, with the remote area to the north carrying a lot of power as it guards the rest of the world with a giant wall designed to keep the "wildings" of the North partitioned off from civilization. Giant castles sprawl amongst chilly but lush rolling mountains. Meanwhile, there's a bustling central capital city set in a tropical, breezy seaside in the south. Despite being filmed in areas such as Northern Ireland, Malta, Morocco and Croatia, it soon becomes clear that the setting is not Mother Earth, and it's not set in a specific point in time that we understand as history. Seasons last a decade. Can you imagine? A ten year winter? There's a degree of fantastical elements at play in the forms of black magic, dragons and ghost-like zombies. But the fantoms play minor, foreboding roles (at least thus far) and merely add to the excitement of the show. They definitely don't make this an all out sci-fi or fantasy series, otherwise I'd have ditched it after the first episode.

Love 'em or hate 'em, the women in this show make me want to take up sword fighting or hone my manipulations skills...and maybe both. Going back to dynamic characters...the women balance out an otherwise testosterone filled cast and bring brains and sex appeal into the story in a much needed manner. There's just enough minor love stories to carry the movie along and balance out the violence. And of course, with love comes inevitable loss, heartbreak, jealousy, and mama drama. Much of the content borders on highly inappropriate, and HBO will continue to push the limit on soft porn. Yes, there are whores and plenty of inappropriate scenes but the show would fall flat without the girl power that prevails in all regions - to the North,
in the Capital City,
and in the South. Especially in the South. This one is a diva badass.
If you want to see someone on the cusp of a brilliant career, you need to watch Emilia Clark's portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen. This girl's going to be around for a while doing some amazing thespian work.

5. Hot Men
Pictures tell a thousand words. Women, the eye candy. Tell your husbands you want to watch Game of Thrones because you heard it's an epic tale of battle for world domination. Then sit back, sip a glass of wine and thank me later.
Jon Snow. I'd go cave exploring with him any day of the week.

Robb Stark. A romantic at heart.
Grey Worm. Worm? Nothing wormy about this flawless specimen.
And Jaime Lannister. I'd like to owe him a debt.
6. Representation of Every Deadly Sin
There's just something about the bad stuff that makes us tune in. Maybe it acts as a reminder that in this modern day and age, our first world problems don't seem so bad after all. Sometimes all seven deadly sins rear their ugly heads in a single episode. Pride, envy, lust, wrath, vanity, sloth, gluttony. It's all there. Envy and wrath take on new heights in this show, to the point where grown children murder their parents and entire families are unexpectedly slain. I'll refrain from details so as to not spoil the surprises, but I absolutely promise you will be shocked and awed frequently. Remember - not a single character is safe on this show. Not a one. Even the gentlest of characters exhibits a deadly sin at least once.

7. Conflict and Suspense
Being an epic fight for total dominion and control, there's bound to be inherent suspense in a story like this. The gruesome murder and torture of key characters isn't short on the ick factor. If a character doesn't evolve in some manner, they're menacingly tortured, poisoned, thrown into an abyss, morbidly beheaded or slaughtered by an army. There's crucifixion of entire groups of people and battles resulting in major losses for giant armies. There's one-on-one sword fighting, political jockeying and familial manipulation that leaves your head spinning.

There's an overall sense of doom involved in this show. Just when you think you have things figured out, some perfectly orchestrated conflict comes out of nowhere like a tornado at midnight and has you on the edge of your seat, shocked at the outcome of the cliffhanger at the end of the episode, begging to see what happens next. And that's why you'll stay up until 4:00 a.m. binging on this show because you can't wait until tomorrow to watch another head thrown up on a spike for all to see.

8. Tyrion Lannister
Clearly I'm smitten with the characters on this show, but this guy deserves a line item of his own to promote it. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister is sheer genius. The scenes are simply better when Tryion is present. I listen more carefully when he's on screen so as to not miss a single witticism or sarcastic riff. He's biting, facetious, honest and conniving. Don't take it just from me - the professionals agree. Since the show began, he's been nominated for an Emmy every single year, winning it and the Golden Globe in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

9. There are books!
This series is based on the books by George R.R. Martin's series, "A Song of Ice and Fire." So even when the TV show is over, we can dig deeper and continue to enjoy the complicated sub-plots and dynamic characters of the story. My brother bought me the books a few years ago for my birthday, and I must confess, they overwhelmed me. I couldn't focus enough (hello, Northwoods summertime) to keep everything straight, so I gave up on them several chapters in. But I could totally see this playing out well onscreen, especially considering HBO was producing it. And I couldn't have been more correct. They blew this story out of the park onscreen, and the original author is involved in the creative process, so you know they're staying true to the spirit of the epic tale. I've read that season one stays close to the books but the following seasons take creative liberties. All the more reason to pick up those books when the TV series is over.

I could blather on, but I don't want provide any major spoilers. If you enjoy an epic tale, plot twists and turns, complex characters, superb acting and interesting and changing scenery, this is the show for you. I would, however, consider this R-rated. There are plenty of racy scenes including nudity and shocking violence, so if that's not your thing than I don't recommend watching Game of Thrones. But if you're OK with that and want to pick up a highly entertaining TV series, then start from season one. In no time you'll be grateful that Season Five is recorded on your DVR, just waiting for you to "catch up."

And remember....Winter is don't delay.


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