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Game of Thrones won over viewers by subverting TV rules, but now it's getting backlash for having to capitulate to those very same rules

  • "To its credit, Game of Thrones didn’t change the core characteristics of (George R.R. Martin's) A Song of Ice and Fire to make them more palatable to TV," says Alison Herman. "Instead, it was TV itself that was changed. Never before had a show baited and switched its audience about the very concept of a protagonist; never before had a show included hourlong battles with the financial demands of a feature film; never before had a show carried such an overwhelming mass of detailed lore that it could single-handedly support its own explainer industry. Part of what Thrones’ legions of fans have responded to is old-school craftsmanship, in the form of great performances and richly outlined characters. Much of the appeal, however, was novelty: Viewers weren’t used to feeling the disorientation that came with Ned Stark’s beheading or Jaime Lannister’s gradual redemption, so they stuck around for more. The sheer feat of translating these subversions, and balancing them with the practicalities necessary to create an actual television show, ought not to be understated. Whatever criticisms they faced for their relatively original storytelling, (David) Benioff and (D.B.) Weiss proved themselves to be master adaptors." Herman adds: "A cruel paradox of Thrones’ later seasons, then, is that the show effectively trained its fan base to hold it to the same logical, methodical, unsentimental standard as the earlier seasons and books did fantasy tropes. A decade ago, A Song of Ice and Fire so effectively commented on sword-and-sorcery mainstays it changed how some readers saw the genre; now, Game of Thrones has preemptively taught its viewership to reject the shortcuts and workarounds it’s taken on the way to Sunday’s conclusion. Because many of the flaws in Thrones’ home stretch aren’t unique to Thrones. They’re products of typical TV logic—exactly the kind Thrones initially rejected, and can no longer resist."


    TOPICS: Game of Thrones, HBO, Gay of Thrones, Bryan Cogman , David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Elizabeth Olsen, George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Van Ness, Miguel Sapochnik, Stephen King, Peak TV