Game of Thrones: A Primer

Game of ThronesA few weeks ago, I thought the HBO show Game of Thrones was about plump, gruff kings drinking wine, while dirty knights wielded swords on horseback. It turns out I was right, but what I wasn’t expecting from the intense, complicated fantasy series was that it’s also a borderline porno, incest fest, and blood bath. But if you can stomach that kind of thing, oh how juicy and addicting this show is!

I started watching one season behind my boyfriend, but he’s oh-so-generously re-watching the first season with me. I don’t think we’ve fought this much since we started co-parenting our puppy.

“Wait, who are the Gregarian’s again?” “Hold up, who is THAT, he’s the brother of which king?” “Ewww, he’s hooking up with his sister?” I know my questions are annoying and they are met—appropriately—with exasperated sighs. But it’s really that confusing.  There are dozens and dozens of almost universally unlikable characters whose names seem impossible to get straight. The good news is, after about the third or fourth show, the cloud of uncertainty starts to lift, and not every character is as reprehensible as they seem.

If you are thinking of diving into the series, I want to first encourage you to do so. Second, I’d like to prepare you with a few tips:

  • Pay attention. No really. PAY ATTENTION. Last names and hair color are key to identifying the absurd number of characters and several strains of royalty. Tip: If they mention a family name (and there are many) in conversation, the producers do a good job of showing said family in the next scene, in a parallel story line.
  • If you are squeamish around blood, gore, and chopped off body parts, this may not be the show for you.
  • If you are sensitive to the objectification of women, or ubiquitous nudity, this may not be the show for you.
  • But, if you can stomach the above or look away, the edge-of-your seat story line makes it worth it. Persevere through the explicitness!
  • The show is not on Netflix. But if you do not have HBO, Amazon has some deals on the DVDs.
  • Back to the character recognition, and the fact that a lot of the male characters look similar. If you know someone with the hard copy of the book, there is guide that lists all the family trees.
  • If you’re looking for a series synopses, the best resource is HBO’s Viewer’s Guide which bundles each episode into a paragraph description.
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