Back in May, amidst the full fury of the internet berating the showrunners Dan & David, a fun brief in The Onion declared that the two were themselves dissatisfied with the quality of the fans these past few seasons of Game of Thrones.
But beyond the jokes, it’s clear to see how the internet can viciously attack something that once was held to high esteem. Like a broken-hearted teenage boy, the internet throws tantrums, screams and smashes even if in the process it’s damaging people that once made its life beautiful and wholesome.
Emmy season is upon us and there’s a strong argument to be made as to why Game of Thrones should not, symbolically at least, walk away with the most Emmys this year. Yet we shouldn’t fall into mistakes so common on the internet and bash the show, refuse credit where credit is due, and indiscriminately spew hatred upon a labor of love and beauty – for the most part. Let’s try!
What Felt Off (& Way Off)
The worlds of YouTube, Twitter, & Facebook are filled with opinions on what was wrong this season. Many say Dany shouldn’t have died. Many decry the utter malarkey that her hero journey turned out to be. A large amount still felt Arya killing the Night King was out of place. I can understand these opinions and others. Some more, some not so much.
However, to my mind, the original flaw was pacing. So much substance is overwhelming when you don’t have enough episodes to allow it to breathe.
The backlash over this last season all somehow goes boils down to this lack of development for the ideas we were shown. When fans of your show start arguing about what the showrunners did over what the characters did, it’s a sign of a systematic failure of the power of the show.
Immersion is also a big player in the world, and in why the eighth season of Game of Thrones felt off. When it comes to movies and TV shows, this is a much finer line to navigate than with video games (where a simple glitch is a clear immersion break). Let’s try and follow the failures that lead to Game of Thrones’ immersion breaking.
Because of the reduced number of episodes, we had poor pacing. Because of poor pacing, we had characters that seemingly changed overnight, and the show’s perspective shifted from sociological to psychological. Because of both these things and others, viewers were amplified in their outrage over things outside of the Realm – what happened with the showrunners, what D&D did or didn’t do, who left that Starbucks cup there. Joining in were carefully crafted comments from the actors (such as Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington) which many took to be snide remarks directed at the show’s producers & writers.
When that line was crossed and a big enough group of vocal fans started fighting over what Dan & David were thinking, any trace of immersion was completely dead.
I would end this argument on the incomprehensible (if not completely missing) battle strategy for Episode 3. As someone who has seen his fair share of medieval battle theory videos on YouTube, this fight seemed ridiculous. Especially since other fights on the show were so good – Dany’s assault on the Lannister army last season is one of the best battles ever. The Battle of the Bastards was marvelously strategic and true-to-life.
The Battle of Winterfell episode was still, by a long shot, good – but not good enough to convince anyone. How could a ginormous army of battle-hardened heroes and brilliant strategists & veterans (Brienne, Jaime, Jon, Daenerys, Tyrion, & Ser Bronn among others) with two dragons almost lose to a horde of brainless walkers?
Why Game of Thrones Season 8 Is Still Decent
It would arguably be too easy to say season eight of Game of Thrones was bad. But no good comes of it. Just as no good comes of the many and frequent comments that say something along the lines of “thank you HBO for 7 great seasons.” In fact, this is incredibly mean-spirited and disrespectful of the people that worked inhumane hours to bring us a spectacle never before seen on TV. And when I say spectacle I mean it – pyrotechnics, VFX, prosthetic makeup, music, costumes, everything except the overall story.
The actors did their jobs – they were as convincing as they could be, given the writing. The crew did their jobs and still deserve many awards, even if they show doesn’t end up winning big. A giant part of the team behind GOT’s season 8 did their jobs to perfection. If you want to throw blame, there are many directions that are justifiably to blame, as I’ve pointed out above. Yet to take it out on people who had no say in how the season went overall is incredibly rude.
With so many people saying Season 8 was bad, what do the people who animated the dragons think? What about the ones that rigged the propane for the fire ditch in episode 3? Or the people that rebuilt 17 streets of Dubrovnik in Belfast? What would you, in their stead, feel when everyone’s saying how much your show “sucked”? Would you assume the internet is stupid or would you internalize some of that guilt? Is all this hate worth it?
There were many breathtaking moments in season 8 of Game of Thrones. Many performances that moved you to tears.
This work should get recognized at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, even if the show as a whole receives fewer Emmys than others.
Why We Shouldn’t Listen to the Trolls
Toxicity seeps so easily from one group of fans to another when the general matter of viral discussion always revolves around popular culture. One is not interested solely in Star Wars. Or Star Trek. Or the MCU, Game of Thrones, etc. The worlds of these fans are interwoven.
As such, there were many voices on the internet that blamed the “SJWs” for having Arya kill the Night King. The Social Justice Police just wouldn’t have it if a disabled boy did not win the throne. The “snowflakes” got this show too. There’s just no escape. It’s male discrimination. I get it, you can’t walk down the street as a white man without being forced to give your job to a woman of power, it happens literally every day.
These types of fans contributed to the great controversy surrounding season 8, and ultimately to the break in immersion. However, we should learn how to distinguish trolls’ comments from what counts genuine discussion about the qualities and issues of the show.
Civilized discourse is still possible even when we disagree with something vehemently.
It’s what Star Trek’s taught me, it’s what should be the standard in diplomacy and politics throughout the world. And while I’m arguing that Season 8 of Game of Thrones should not win big at this year’s Emmy Awards, we should be careful in our arguments so as to not fall into the same mistakes so often seen in an internet world.
Why the Television Academy Should Take a Stand
Wide-eyed idealist goggles off, I believe there should be authorities that tax these slips of production. Game of Thrones Season 8, however good, was off by a long shot because of poor decisions and pacing. This was not “well thought out” – I’m sorry to say. May have been thought out, just not well enough.
We made a choice to ‘just get on with it’ last season.’ You can sit at home and do the math on how long it took to get the boats from Point A to Point B and whatever that was, yeah, that’s what it was. There’s always something everybody has got to graft on to and I guess that outrage was better than others, so I’ll take it.
Brian Cogman, Writer-Producer for Game of Thrones
‘Game of Thrones’ Writers Respond to Season 7 Backlash, Indiewire
This is not the kind of discourse you should be encouraging as a showrunner. When you say “that outrage is better than others”, you have already given up on the show. Sure, it’s healthy to steel your expectations and acknowledge a potential outrage, but it’s another thing entirely to elect an outrage. This was very disappointing to read.
As a writer, you have to let your love of writing drive you, your love for the show, however difficult. We shouldn’t fall victims to some presupposed outrage that hasn’t happened yet. But Cogman’s Prophecy rang true and the Outrage has come to pass.
Like Oedipus running from his fate only to fulfill it, the showrunners of Game of Thrones made the fatal mistake of foreseeing their own misfortune.
Let’s remember now: this is a show that’s already won 42 Emmys. Would it be too much to ask the Television Academy not to give the Outstanding Drama Series award to Game of Thrones? That alone would be the symbolic precedent we need. There are other Emmys who have strong contenders, some stronger than GOT this year: prosthetics, VFX, supporting actor, supporting actress, best actress.
However much it pains me that Emilia Clarke might not get her Emmy this year, especially after her recent New Yorker article, it would be the showrunner’s fault, not hers. She’s acted incredibly well this season – it’s a testament to her skill that she managed to transpose a debatable source material into something so powerful and raw. But maybe she’ll win? I’m just a simple writer.
Maybe the Emmys Should Boldly Go onto Other Shows
After this long opinion, it’s clear. Game of Thrones shouldn’t win big this year at the Emmys. It should win some awards – the show was incredible, truly, and arguably, the plot was also alright. But it was bundled and twisted into a pack too dense to convince anyone of all the major twists that took place. It broke immersion – and that’s a sin nobody will ever forgive.
At the end, I want to draw your attention to another show. It really hurts that the mainstream award shows are treating the new Star Trek Discovery like some sort of illegitimate lovechild of the series. In a perfect world, I would see Star Trek Disco grab more Emmys than Game of Thrones and be the one that wins big this year. Discovery certainly convinced me and lots of fans of its merits. So why would the Academy ignore it? See for yourself – grab a remote and binge it, you won’t regret it.
A writer, a lover of all things Star Trek, a word magician with a vision… too much? Yup. These are all things (sort of) about me. I also love other stuff geeky: from Star Wars to the MCU, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, to lots and lots of video games, and don’t forget books and comics, and movies.
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