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fantasy without fantasy

Screencap of the first episode of Game of Thrones. Distantly, three men on horses ride through a snowy landscape.

(Game of Thrones 1×01: “Winter is Coming”)

Y’all hear about this Game of Thrones thing?

1 Autumn

“Winter is coming,” we’re told, twice, but we open on snow and ice. Boy, y’all really goofed it there, HBO, winter is already here! I understand, from pop cultural osmosis, that the land continent? planet? of Westeros has what is by our standards an unusual relationship with the seasons. People in this world, I’m sure I will soon find out, have unusual relationships to lots of things, including their own heads, their siblings…

The idea of winter is rich with potential for metaphor — everything freezing, stopping, dying, before the sun returns and thaws everything out, bringing life back. They should do something with that.

2 Spring

I’ve been here before. This having been the cultural juggernaut that it was, of course I tried to watch this, first when it first aired — didn’t really connect with it, made it maybe ten minutes — and then again once it had become that juggernaut — I made it… eight episodes, I wanna say?

What didn’t I like about it, and why am I trying again now? Well, I always hate missing a popular bus, but what I saw from my initial glance as it drove past me was a depressing world full of sad shit and boring fights, and riding along for eight episodes only confirmed that feeling. Watching this now, I suspect the reputation this show has for unnecessary explicitness1Look, what is “unnecessary,” right? is probably earned. But I’m older, and my tastes have matured. Maybe I can get into this now.

I only finally read Achewood last year, you know.

3 Autumn

Obviously this is going certain places. Uninterested in the show until now, I never made a point of avoiding spoilers, and I know the big one from the first season because I, well, I watched that episode, I’ve heard something about a wedding, and I know broadly speaking that once they run out of book they struggle to maintain a stable road under this particular car. There is, as far as I can tell from where I stand, no show that quite crashes and burns like this one.

But here the inciting incidents are simple — a report from the North, and at home a man is dead. I’m sure the fallout of these matters will be dealt with swiftly and effectively.

4 Winter

Ultimately, Game of Thrones is fantasy without fantasy. It’s fantasy for people who think laughter who should go back to where it came from.2Comedy clubs in basements. Everything light and fun has been stripped away. Where something like Wonka is magic for the sheer sake of whimsy, this is the opposite — it’s a fantastical world that can only imagine violence and viscera, filth and fucking, politics and pain. A Dothraki wedding is a funeral. In Westeros, people only smile when they conquer, when they scheme, when they sentence, when they kill.

All magic that remains here is out to hurt you.

  • 1
    Look, what is “unnecessary,” right?
  • 2
    Comedy clubs in basements.
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