This last week has been both really depressing and hilarious.
If you’ve been capable of cognitive thinking beyond that of an infant slug, then you’ve heard of Game of Thrones. The show quickly became a cultural phenomenon unlike any other TV show of the decade. People fell in love with this show for it’s incredibly deep and interesting characters, grim world, and genre-subverting story telling. For years, Game of Thrones seemed unstoppable.
Then seasons seven happened. The show lost a tremendous amount of momentum, and skepticism started to rise. They needed to bounce back with their next and final season. Unfortunately, they did the exact opposite.
Never before in my life have I seen a fan base turn on a show! Before this season, there was a strict spoiler-filter on the whole story. But when the final episode aired, everyone in the world seemed to unanimously say “Yeah, fuck that!” They made their complaints well known.
Even the staff/cast behind the show had their issues. None of the actors seemed pleased with how their characters turned out. Hell, they didn’t even bother trying to hide their coffee cups or water bottles in the frame. Meanwhile, the poor writers had to spend every possible second they had to justify their work and calm everyone down. Unfortunately, their excuses were… less than satisfying.
“Danny forgot about the iron fleet.” Yup. This woman, who has spent the last few years of her life creating an empire to reclaim her family’s birthright, forgot about the enemy forces. Can you tell that one of these boys wrote ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine‘?
Now, I’m not here to take sides. There are people who hate what the show has become, and people who still enjoy it. Personally, I don’t sit on either end of the spectrum. Mainly because I haven’t actually watched the show. I’ve read the books, enjoyed those well enough, and never bothered to pick the show up.
This post isn’t an opinion piece, like every other post I’ve ever written. This one is more of an observation than a review. What you are reading is not from the perspective of a hardcore GOT fan. Rather, it is that of a curious onlooker, one with a simple question: what the hell happened?
In search of answers, I did a bit of digging. I read articles, watched angry online reviews, and looked up several really nice drawings of dragons online. With my research complete, I feel I can answer the question I came in here with. And there are a few powerful reasons as to why.
First and foremost being something most people online are calling:
The Fullmetal Alchemist Effect
Let’s go back in time a few decades. Fullmetal Alchemist is taking the world by storm. Animation studios all over Japan wanted to capitalize on it as quickly as possible. An anime adaptation was rushed out the door, even though the total amount of manga was lacking.
It didn’t take long for the anime to pass the manga by. But they couldn’t just stop and wait for more source material! They had to make more money, and the show was doing too well! They couldn’t stop for anything! So a team of writers started making things up to keep the story going.
It got weird. And bad. Then it ended, and everyone was unhappy. It wasn’t until years later that another adaptation, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, would properly adapt the story as it was told in the manga. Now, everyone recalls Brotherhood with reverence, while the original has been lost to time. A relic of a bygone era.
Game of Thrones fell into the same problem. When the show aired, there were five books of source material for the team to adapt. Unfortunately for them, the sixth book didn’t come out in time. They were out of material to adapt. Why did this happen?
Well, we’ll get to that in a bit.
The writers were in a pinch. They couldn’t stop the show, not with it’s incredible success. But what could they do, now that they didn’t have George R.R. Martin’s fantastic books to work with? The answer is the same: start making shit up!
This is where things flew off the rails. Whereas the early seasons were a fantastic subversion of fantasy traditions, the wholly original seasons reveled in the cliches of the genre. The characters stopped acting like the characters, losing their core beliefs, goals and even their intellect. The pacing went from a slow, relaxed walk to a light-speed Flash-style run through time.
This falls on the writers chosen by Martin himself. See, when he left the show behind him, he chose a pair of writers, not because of their abilities. But because they were able to guess who Jon Snow’s real parents were. Upon hearing this, the original writer handed them the reigns and cleaned his hands of the show. Leaving it to plummet into disaster.
On the subject of the original writer…
George R.R. Martin: For Fear of Confusion
A lot of people are wondering why Martin still hasn’t gotten around to releasing the sixth book. It’s been years since book five, after all! Isn’t it about time that we got a new one, to see where the story was going?
Well, this is where a small hiccup occurs. See, there are a lot of people out there who have never read the books. Some didn’t even know the books existed! And this is where confusion could occur.
Now, I don’t know about this for sure. As far as I’ve found, George has never gone on record to confirm this. But I believe that Martin never released a new book because he didn’t want to confuse the fans. He didn’t want to alienate anybody when they read the books, as they’d undoubtedly differ from the show. It is very likely that he decided to wait until the show was finished before finishing the books.
Or maybe he’s just lazy. I dunno.
Honestly though, I have my doubts that the books will ever be finished. Either George will simply decide to pursue other projects and leave The Song of Ice and Fire behind, or he’ll just die before the final two books come out. It can happen, don’t get me wrong. But I have my doubts.
So if you’re expecting a Game of Thrones: Brotherhood, well… I’d curb those expectations, if I were you.
Even without having watched it, it makes me sad to see what has become of Game of Thrones. A show that once ruled television is now one of the most hated pieces of television to come out in the last few years. It had legacy as a masterpiece, and now, it’s just a disappointing fantasy show. Before, I was eager to pick up the whole series and marathon it once it came to an end. But now, I simply couldn’t care less.
This show has been a part of the world for eight years. It is depressing to know that it went out with a whimper rather than a bang. Still, regardless of how it ended, the impact of the early seasons cannot be denied. Even if the ending put a bad taste in the mouths of fans, it is still unquestionable that this series will be a cultural milestone for years to come.
Unless a ‘true’ adaptation ends up coming later down the line. In which case, I don’t know how this one will do.