The long-running HBO fantasy series, Game of Thrones, remains a hit after all these years. With six seasons down and one to go, audiences are still as engaged as they were when the small-screen adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s acclaimed novels debuted. But some people have fallen off the bandwagon.
Though the premise itself is intriguing for anyone who enjoys the genre, Game of Thrones has its flaws. And despite its high praise, various elements of the show have been criticized by entertainment journalists and fans alike. Whether you were an avid viewer who has grown reluctant or simply someone who was unable to become invested in the series, here are 10 reasons why you may be done with Game of Thrones.
1. Too many characters
An ensemble cast is a tricky thing. Shows like The Wire have been praised for their ability to bring in new characters every season while not abandoning the old. Game of Thrones hasn’t been as good at this.
Trying to remember every character is difficult enough, but the unfamiliar names make it almost impossible. Fan favorites like Jon Snow are refreshingly simple to recall, while characters like Myrcella Baratheon, who disappear and reappear seasons later, are hard to keep track of. We understand it’s a complex world set in a fictional historical period, but maybe fewer faces on the screen might make the show more palatable.
2. The themes are all over the place
This is kind of a broad claim, but hear us out. All of those characters have to have something to do, which has made it so that over the years, more and more plots and subplots have emerged. But how does one show keep up with all of that?
The answer is that it really can’t. What’s more, it’s hard to know exactly what the show is trying to say with its various attempted themes. The complex relationships between families in positions of power are explored heavily, but what the audience is meant to take away from those interactions is unclear.
3. There’s no reason for certain plots
What’s even more frustrating than storylines that don’t have a definite conclusion? How about various subplots that don’t have any true purpose?
This point supports the previous one. As Tom Ley at Deadspin writes, giant chunks of the show are wrapped up in long explanations that don’t do much to advance the plot, and then a tragic or horrific event happens in order to captivate the audience. This is simply lazy storytelling, and promotes violence for violence’s sake.
4. Gratuitous sex
Certainly, this is a point of contention for many. The New York Times writer Ginia Bellafante wrote back in 2011 that the show was “boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.” This opinion has shifted over time — a bit. But the fact remains that sex is a big part of the show, and it often feels more like tantalizing material rather than actual.
A major example of this would be Ros, a prostitute who was killed early on in the show, after serving her purpose of being “sexposition.” But that’s just the beginning. The amount of rape and incest on the show has grown over time, and critics finally put their foot down when, in Season 5, Sansa Stark was raped on her wedding night.
Plenty of viewers have quit watching due to the series’ controversial treatment of women, but they aren’t the only characters with these kinds of horrific experiences.
5. It’s predictable
Because of the gratuitous sex and violence, viewers generally know where things are going when they watch Game of Thrones. It’s a lot of long, drawn-out speeches, beheadings, rape, incest, and more exposition to top things off. It’s the equivalent of comfort food — if mashed potatoes make you want to puke.
At the same time, the series relies on shock value. But it’s hard to be entirely taken aback by a violent or abusive act if you’ve already seen some variation of it in the previous episode, or the one before that.
6. The promise of fantasy with no delivery
When defending the series, many fans reference their intrigue for the fantasy genre. As seen by the popularity of book-turned-film series like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, there are a lot of people out there who want to see an imaginary world filled with fictional creatures.
But where the adaptations of J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien’s books succeeded, is where Game of Thrones ultimately fails. If you’re tuning in for dragons, elves, or other mystical beings, you’ll be disappointed. The series uses the idea of fantasy in the abstract, with very few specific elements of the genre, leaning more toward magical realism.
7. The good guys always lose
This may be a little nitpicky, but doesn’t everyone want to see the hero win on occasion? There are many, many evil characters in Game of Thrones, and they almost always seem to prevail in the end.
The series isn’t anchored by a primary protagonist, per say, but Jon Snow is the arguable choice for this role. However, the man is defeated time and time again, even dying (temporarily).
While a balance is necessary in order to keep the action moving in any show, it’s a bit fatiguing to watch your heroes take blow after blow.
8. A lack of diversity
Among the many scattered themes of the series, Game of Thrones often brings in subplots that bring attention to various issues. But the implications behind one particular storyline are problematic, to say the least.
In the Season 3 finale, the very white, very blonde Daenerys Targaryen is hailed as a savior for freeing the slaves of Yunkai. Later, the show reveals this was a setup for her to fall from grace, but unfortunately it doesn’t make up for the general lack of diversity and cultural awareness in Game of Thrones.
9. Winter is coming
Initially, the tagline “Winter is Coming,” was intriguing. It’s simple, but it sets a tone for the series. Weather is important in the world of Game of Thrones, after all.
But enough is enough. It’s similar to when a series tries to keep a couple from getting together, but teases them constantly in order to draw out suspense and keep people interested. We get it: Winter is coming, the White Walkers are coming, and they’ve been coming for six seasons.
10. The fans
Most great series have their own rabid fanbase. No matter what a critic says, these fans refuse to listen to an opposing point of view. It’s great to be a passionate fan of art, but the way you treat people is important.
Game of Thrones fans are some of the worst out there. For every writer who explains why they don’t watch the show or analyzes a particular element or scene, there are dozens, if not hundreds of commenters quick to jump down their throats.
And as a more casual viewer of the show, be wary of discussing any topic with a hardcore fanatic. They’re likely to argue that your opinion is wrong unless it matches theirs perfectly — that is, if they have even given you the chance to speak.
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