We are a week from the last episode of Game of Thrones. This show has literally become a phenomenon, with double the people watching Game of Thrones versus the NBA Playoffs. How did this modern day Dungeons and Dragons manage to capture a nation, and taking over pop culture?
About 8 years ago, April 17th of 2011 to be exact, the show debuted on HBO. At that time streaming was not as big as it is now. So to watch the show most people had to have a subscription to cable. The show would continue to grow into a cult like following for 8 seasons, starring a number of actors including Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Jason Momoa, as well as a number of actors made popular by this show.
Game of Thrones was based on the novels written by George R.R. Martin, and though the first season followed the novel closely, following seasons would stray to making changes to fit the story the show writers were looking to tell. What made this show so popular was the gore and the violence, especially in the earlier seasons. People tuned in to see which character would be the next to get their head caved in or decapitated, especially snob characters that “had it coming”. And the show really did a great job of taking us along the ride of watching these characters arc grow throughout the seasons. I enjoyed watching the Starks go through their ups and downs growing into their own individual character following a significant event in all of their lives.
Where else can you follow a show that find a way to balance real medieval violence, magic, and politics in an ensemble piece that will go down as one of the most significant television events in history.
This show is significant because it helped usher in a new era of TV. This show was an event powered by the internet and social media. People could not wait to talk about and debate the latest happenings. And since this show was aired at the same time across the world, this meant there was an entire world (obviously those that had access) watching, reacting, and cringing during the show at the same time. And when the closing song came on, there was this mad rush to social media channels to talk about opinions and thoughts about the episode. This led to more and more people wanting to watch the show when aired to both avoid spoilers, and be able to be apart of the conversation that gripped pop culture. As literally within hours of the shows conclusions, memes were created that voiced a shocking moment in the show’s episodes.
The creators of Game of Thrones did a good job with the production that gave viewers something worthy and significant to enjoy for 8 seasons. But what made the show popular were the viewers watching it. People from around the world were in the middle of their own political divisions that divided them. Brexit, police shootings, leaked tapes, corruption, these were real life events happening, and Game of Thrones happened to echo some of the same political drama at a significant time in history. Giving people an outlet to express their opinions and frustrations by investing their energy into a character or event in the show. And having a large audience across the world of people to share and debate with.
As this show takes its final bow next week, we may indeed be seeing the end of an era. A show that captured the world by storm. Made popular by the same internet that provided the means for millions to pirate the show. We may never see a world wide phenomenon like this again. Though many have tried to copy the formula, none have been able to produce similar results. Not even HBO have managed to quite capture the same kind of magic that it has with Game of Thrones. Only Disney with the Marvel series have managed to rival this show as far as popularity, and even they could not capture the consistent number of audience members to watch every movie and every show like Game of Thrones have managed throughout their entire run. And this speaks to the amazing job that has been done with this show, even with some of its shortcomings.