Hello Fellow Fans,
You probably noticed that there was a missing post for Television Thursday; that’s because I am doing a special two discussion, exploring the HBO sensation, Game of Thrones The first part of the discussion will examine the GoT fandom while part two of the discussion will conduct a character evaluation of Jon Snow as requested from LongClawisMyBuddy76. This character discussion will take the place of Movie Review Monday.
Now Let’s Dive in…
Game of Thrones: Summary
Based upon the George RR Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice, GoT offers audiences a graphic fantasy, where betrayal lies in wait around every corner; the characters are as unforgettable as they are duplicitous. The narrative opens with Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell is summoned by the King of Westeros, Robert Baraethon, to the capital where he will serve as an adviser. Quickly discovering that he has come to a dangerous place, Lord Stark’s meddling in the capital unravels a chain of events that culminates in the demise of King Robert, the rebirth of dragons, and the outbreak of the War of Five Kings.
GoT Fan-base At A Glance
On Sunday, April 24th 2016, Game of Thrones launched it’s 6th season and 10.7 million viewers watched the newest chapter unfold in Westeros . Nielsen ratings estimates that GoT pulls in roughly 20 million viewers per episode and the series’ budget increases with every season . Over 5 seasons, the show received 297 nominations, won 180 awards, and even achieved a Golden Globe for best televised series. Peter Dinklage, the actor who plays the fan favorite: Tyrion Lannister, received 2 Emmy Awards for his role as the clever dwarf .
The GoT Fandom is one of the most active communities I have ever seen. One google search reveals that over 12 Wiki sites are devoted to chronicling the adventures of the show; over 2,495,000 results can be found on YouTube when typing in the show’s name while a search of both FanFiction.net and Archive of Our Own (A03) reveal over 6,000 results in fan-created stories. This fandom is a force to be reckoned with.
With each new episode, fans clamor to the keyboards to discuss their favorite characters and proclaim their house of choice; they vlog about recent episodes and the changes that have been made from book to screen. At the end of each season, a wave of despair descend upon the Internet; hiatus becomes one most hated words on lips of every GoT viewer as Tumblr explodes with Gifs, out-crying “is it April Yet” Why is the show so popular? The answer is simple. The show elegantly combines an exciting new world, intricate characters, and top notch production values.
The series is an epic fantasy, featuring a feudal and magical world that features Lords, Knights, Dragons, Sorcerers, and Kings. The show thrusts the viewer into a fully immersive mythos. The setting of the show takes place in the fictional land of Westeros, home of the seven kingdoms; each kingdom is ruled by a noble bloodline which owes fealty to the Iron Throne of Kings Landing. The great houses are:
- Stark of Winterfell, rulers of The North
- Tully of Riverrun, rulers of The Riverlands
- Arryn of the Eyrie, rulers of The Vale
- Lannister of Casterly Rock, rulers of The Westernlands
- Baratheon of Storm’s End, rulers of The Stormlands
- Tyrell of Highgarden, rulers of The Reach
- Martell of Sunspear, rulers of Dorne
Each house has its own sigil and creed. The Starks, for example, bears the crest of Dire-wolf and goes by the motto “winter is coming,” alluding to the dangers mysticism of the wild northern country and the threats that lie on the opposite side of the Wall (a structure that separates Westeros from the savages and is manned by noble order of the Night’s Watch).
As the narrative progresses and the seasons continue, the world grows in scope. Across the Narrow sea lies the exotic lands of Essos where horse lords, fire priests, and dragons originate. Once the seven kingdoms were all independent nations, until they were conquered and united by Aegon Targaryen who spawned a dynasty that lasted 300 years.
The Targaryens of King’s Landing were overthrown by Robert Baratheon’s rebellion prior to the events of the series and the books. Mad king Aerys II (the last Targaryen king) was murdered by Jaime Lannister, and Robert Baratheon claimed the Iron Throne based on the Targaryen blood of his grandmother. All Targaryens were murdered or exiled except Daenrys Targaryen who becomes the ‘Mother of Dragons.’
The characters of this show (and there are too many to count) are very complex; the majority of them are neither good nor evil. Rather the characters in this show are morally ambiguous, forced to make difficult choices to survive which often are at the expense of others. They murder and betray in the pursuit of power, love, and loyalty. In fact, characters who are too noble do not last long on this show; they have to be politically savvy enough to know when to use mercy and when to use force in getting what they want which makes for compelling television.
“When you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die” – Cersei Lannister
The character roster both expands and contracts with every season. Character death is one of the key ways that the show keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats. Just when you think a character is vital to the story, you lose them. Here’s a warning for all the newcomers to this show, don’t get too attached to anyone because any character can die a gruesome death – Valar Morghulis, “all men must die.” The show doesn’t pull any punches; it takes it’s tagline a bit too seriously. This show is not for the faint of heart; it’s bloody and there’s also a ton of nudity.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the estimated budget for one season of Game of Thrones is $60 million .The main headquarters for the production is at the Paint Hall studios in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where most of the interior sets are located (such as the Red Keep sets, the Iron Throne, and the Great Sept of Baelor. The majority of on-location shooting also occurs in Northern Ireland – such as Castle Black, which was built as a fully realized set in an abandoned quarry a few minutes’ drive north of Belfast. Several exotic locations – particularly those outside of the Seven Kingdoms – are filmed in more diverse locales in other countries including Spain, Morocco, Croatia, and Iceland .
Clothing and fashion in the Game of Thrones TV series adaptation by HBO adds a major new layer to the narrative: the A Song of Ice and Fire novels could only give relatively brief descriptions of clothing styles, but in the visual medium of television, this element becomes much more prominent. For the series, HBO choose Emmy Award winning costume designer, Michele Clapton; her department oversees 100 people and ten of them are paid only to wear out costumes so that they look aged when on screen . Meeting only twice with the author of the books, Clapton had complete freedom in designed the outfits for the show.
Costuming furthers the layers of the narrative in several major ways. First, it helps to establish a unique look for each of the Seven Kingdoms and other regions of the world, hopefully making it easier for viewers to distinguish between characters from the North, the Westerlands, or the Reach.Second, the costumes within the TV series are consciously intended to tell a narrative, and subtly reflect political allegiances. Furthermore, the ruling families from each region are the trendsetters, and their vassals all try to emulate them; this is established in book one and the trend continues through series. To a lesser extent fashions also trickle down to the commoners in each region.
The end of season 5 left all of GoT fans staring in horror as the beloved character of Jon Snow, played by Kit Harington, was ruthlessly murdered by a band of mutineers. Fans simply refused to accept the passing of this character. I, myself, couldn’t believe it. As season 6 approached, HBO stated,“Jon Snow is dead,” in its synopsis of the Season 6 premiere, putting an official seal on the most hotly contested TV death of 2015.
Though the episode’s final shot of Harington showed Jon bleeding copiously, several theories about the character’s survival quickly sprang up. Well, season 6 aired it’s premiere and all the audiences were treated to were scenes of Jon Snow lying dead in Castle Black… but he was neither nor burned in the episode, leaving audiences to speculate further on Jon’s fate. Now with the second episode aired, Jon Snow has returned; online posts are already popping up about saying “Jon Snow Lives!”
How was he brought back to life? What does this mean for his character? Join me for part 2 of this discussion.
- “Game of Thrones.” Internet Movie Database (IMDB). Amazon Company. 24 April 2016. Accessed 26 April 2016.
- “The Locations of Game Of Thrones.” Season 4 DVD Commentary
- “Costume and Set Design of Game of Thrones.” Season 4 DVD Commentary
ASK: Who is Your Favorite GoT Character?