The Show Watcher Backlash Against HBO

Posted: May 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

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(GUEST POST) By Ser Matthew the Motley

AKA THE MUSINGS OF A NOOB

Greetings to all book readers, show watchers, and fans and angry fans of Game of Thrones alike!

Well, I for one, have not read the ASOIAF books, but I have been watching the show since it premiered.  I work with many people who are book readers, who were stunned by my recent and noted outrage concerning the Unbowed Unbent Unbroken episode, and the course of the show in general.  My co-workers knew that fellow book readers would be frustrated with the absurd plot change, but did not consider that a pure show watcher would be filled with such venom towards the series creators.

I have not been alone in my journey through the universe of ASOIAF, because I have the brainchild of AngryGoTFan.com as my own personal maester. That’s right, I work with AngryGoTFan. When I informed Lord Angry that after the May 17th episode, I was walking away from the series and would no longer need his services, he asked me to submit my thoughts to his website.  Without further ado, here are the musings of a noob.

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Possibly the worst combination of factors a television program could contain is a boring story and rape.  Season five has been overwhelmingly boring with brutally slow pacing and it seems the only thing Benioff and Weiss could come up with was fabricating a rape.  There is never a time in entertainment that I have enjoyed a rape scene, but I can understand that they might occasionally been essential to developing a character.  If a show, movie, or novel demonstrates how the victim is impacted by the incident and how they respond in the aftermath, perhaps something valuable can be gained.  Even still, I do not understand why it is necessary to actually show the brutal event, when it could be handled through inference or some other device.  What was the audience supposed to learn from this brutal scene between Ramsey and Sansa?  I guess this could be the one way to finally reveal that Ramsey is a brutal psychopath.  Oh, wait a second, that point has already been driven home again, and again, and again!  There are two things I know from the show, the Lannisters always pay their debts, and Ramsey Bolton will always choose the most brutal method for dealing with any situation.

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So if the point of the scene is not to expose something about Ramsey, it must be to teach the viewer valuable information about Sansa. If only there was some way to communicate that Sansa is living an absolutely horrific existence.  Hmm?  Have her be engaged to a lunatic King, make her watch her dad be executed, let the rest of her family be brutally murdered, force her to marry a dwarf she despises, create a scenario where she is wanted for regicide and required to change her identity and live the rest of her life in hiding, and then send her to family home only to be betrothed to yet another madman.  It seems Benioff and Weiss decided the audience might be able to keep up with the monstrous machinations of the ever increasing world of ASOIAF, but somehow that very same audience would be incapable of noticing that Sansa’s life has been less than perfect.  Obviously a brutal rape is only sure way to make it clear that if you could be any female character on the show, Sansa should not be your first pick.

Game of Thrones will not be the first show I have abandoned following a precipitous decline in quality, punctuated by a rape scene.  I reached the same conclusion with Downton Abbey, when the writers decided one of the characters needed to be raped in order to generate a new plot component.  They could have killed the character, or had her be kidnapped, or had her be fired, but no, the choice was rape.  If I am being honest, I was already considering giving up on Downton Abbey before that bizarre plot decision and my patience had been wearing thin with season five of Game of Thrones before Sansa’s brutal attack.  There are so many factors that are frustrating to a non-reader, I cannot imagine how someone who had dedicated the time to read all of the books could possibly continue to watch the show.

One of the issues I have noticed this season is that many of the components I viewed as novelties in early seasons have transformed into sources of limitless annoyance at this point in the series.

  1. Multiple storylines crammed into one episode. The strongest episodes of the series are the ones which spent the most time in one location focusing on one set of characters.  Even if an episode did jump around in the first few seasons the events displayed were essential to moving the plot forward.  Now there are entire scenes that are simply the Boltons eating a meal, Jon Snow signing some forms, or Cersei attempting to manipulate the small council.  Why is nobody actually doing anything of value?
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  1. Nobody is actually doing anything of value! The majority of the characters are entirely stationary. Dany has not moved from Meereen for two seasons and she does not seem to have any plan for conquering any new lands.  If she is not playing “The Game of Thrones” why is she even on the show?  She has failed to successfully be in charge of anything up to this point, so why not focus on another character that might actually do something interesting?  Stannis spent five episodes waiting around at The Wall for absolutely no reason!  He has the greatest army in The Seven Kingdoms, but decides to just hang around and attempt to force wildings to join his cause.  They are called wildlings for a reason!  This is not the Unsullied we are talking about!  Everyone in King’s Landing is worthless. Cersei’s incessant brooding and wine consumption are some of the least entertaining moments in television history.  If she is miserable, nobody cares.  If she is in power, or out of power, nobody cares.  The most she is capable of achieving is sending the world’s most clueless man to the Iron Bank, and the world’s least secret homosexual to a temporary prison sentence.  I would rather watch Ser Pounce drink a bowl of milk than anything Cersei could possibly do.  Without Tywin and Tyrion King’s Landing has gone from a focal point to a location of pointlessness.  Even Jaime is not there, which I guess is a good thing, because he might spontaneously rape Cersei again.
  1. Waiting for the dragons to do something awesome has lost its appeal. In the first seasons all I wanted to see was Dany scenes, because I always anticipated that the dragons might play a role.  Now two are locked up and one is roaming free.  Yet again, Dany fails to successfully be in charge of anything.  The dragons were once something I tuned in to see, but now they are irrelevant.
  1. The White Walkers are violating the principle of Chekov’s Gun. There are seemingly unstoppable killing machines approaching The Wall, but we have not seen a glimpse of them all season.  Stannis presumably went to The Wall based on Melisandre’s urging that he must stop the White Walkers before there was no kingdom to be ruled.  Somehow that turned into Stannis defeating Mance, attempting to recruit troops, and then deciding to set out for Winterfell.  The White Walkers and the Bran storyline actually have elements of mystery and intrigue, yet those are the very components that Beinoff and Weiss have decided to ignore this season.

Virtually every series in television history reaches a point where it has simply been on the air for too long; the writers run out of ideas or the characters just stop being compelling to watch.  The most disappointing thing about Game of Thrones is that it has great characters and incredible potential, but the show cannot seem to get out of its own way.  Much like the recent trend of dividing the final movie of a trilogy into two parts, the Game of Thrones producers seem determined to drag the show out as long as possible.  It has become a situation where quantity is favored instead of quality.  Each week an episode ends and I feel like I learned as much from watching an hour long episode as I did from watching the preview.  In previous seasons I was emailing Lord Angry immediately after an episode ended with a seemingly limitless list of questions about characters, background details, and significance of events.  Lord Angry is the absolute greatest source of information, because he perfectly walks the line between educating and spoiling.  Perhaps the greatest sign of the show’s decline is that I struggle to come up with anything to email him about this season.  My emails are more concerned with what I would like to see happen, or how the show could be better, rather than something that actually took place.  There are simply too many entertainment options to choose from for me to waste my time hate-watching Game of Thrones.

It is time for me to bid farewell to HBO until June 21st when True Detective returns and attempts to give me a reason to believe that an anthology structure could be the way of the future.  Maybe Colin Farrell will ride a dragon into battle against White Walker Vince Vaughn and I will actually get what I have been waiting for.

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Comments
  1. BUM says:

    I will finish the season. I don’t know why. You are right. After the Jaime rape scene, I thought of walking away, but I didn’t. I knew this season would be bad because of the Dorne messed up storyline, but the last three episodes have shocked me in how low D and D are willing to go and it will only get worse. But I can’t walk away yet. I respect and admire your decision.

    I know some people think this is just really stupid to be so upset when there are starving children in the world and “real” problems. However, betrayal is also real, and to a loyal fan to the books and even the show as GRRM seemed to be okay with it, we have been betrayed beyond hope. But I’ll see this bad season through, because I just will.

  2. Harrison says:

    Although I don’t condone the raping, it was hard to imagine but I think it will lead to a great plot brewing up. They didn’t transfer Sansa all across westeros for her to just get raped and killed, although the series has been known to do so at times (oberyn rings a bell)

    You mention your favorite scenes in season one involved dany, but like 75% of her scenes in season one involved her in compromising situations, ie being disrobed by her brother, raped by drogo, burnt by fire only to come out of the ashes nude.

    Why is sansa raped by a psycho any worst?

    I’d say give the show a chance to justify why it was necessary before dropping the show completely. If they kill sansa and theon off next week however than the show might be heading downhill.

    • Freyya says:

      Actually, he said “In the first seasons all I wanted to see was Dany scenes, because I always anticipated that the dragons might play a role.” He didn’t say his favorite scenes were Dany scenes. He said he was anticipating her scenes because he hoped the dragons would play a part. That’s different from actually having them be favorites.

      What I have gathered from this post, and most people who are upset with the rape scene, is that it’s less that the scene itself is more psychotic than other instances of violence in the show, but that the cumulative effect is too much. This scene has been, essentially, the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    • ApeLieUproar says:

      Oberyn? He was a minor character, who died the same way in the books.

      Sansa was learning to play the game of thrones in the book (the title of the damned show). In the show, she’s a victim, waiting to be rescued.

  3. Gaz says:

    Today I learned: the author of this article doesn’t like rape scenes and is willing to give up watching shows because of it.

    Also. The author is waiting for things to happen without reading the source material for the HBO adaptation, which would teach him that his expectations are too distanced from said source material and would significantly alter the show course of action and outcome.

    Yes, the rape was not in the books but it’s not something that can’t be expected from a character like Ramsay.

    • Freyya says:

      While I understand your point regarding his expectations versus the books, the show should be able to stand on it’s own as compelling television. Also, supposedly the whole point of D&D cutting whole story lines, changing others, and having information from GRRM regarding the rest of the series is so they can make a compelling show. If they are failing, it isn’t the fault of the viewer for not having read the books.

  4. Zippy says:

    Its about the rebirth of Theon. You obviously missed that the camera focused on him and the ‘rape’ took place off camera. Pay attention 007!

  5. Konis says:

    Your article really resonated with me because I also stopped watching Downton Abbey for the exact same reason that you did. It’s not that I will never watch a show that depicts rape – I’ve watched GoT, Rome, Spartacus, etc… I stopped watching Downton because that particular rape scene, much like this one, was a display of shitty writing, completely hackneyed disregard of characters and their arcs, a CRYSTAL clear sign that the writers had written themselves into a corner and were desperate for some shocking device to “move the plot forward”, and totally callous insensitivity towards the topic of rape in general.

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