Death — in all its forms — becomes “Game of Thrones”
by David Weinshilboum
Recently, I’ve been watching “Game of Thrones,” a television series about a fictional land called Westeros where men connive to attain power, women withstand a misogynistic culture, knights duel to the death, and magic and dragons are always around the corner.
In many ways, I think it’s the future of television.
The story is both sprawling and simple: war is coming to the kingdom and dozens of power-hungry folks want to be king. Lords want to be king; the queen wants to be king; the prince wants to be king. The only person who doesn’t want to be king is the king himself. He’s more interested in drinking and skirt chasing. Unsurprisingly, the king dies in the first season.
Now — in season two — the fight is on to see who will rule the kingdom. The pernicious prince Joffrey replaces the old, dead skirt-chaser. He’s 13 and ANGRY. So he kills people, cuts out their tongues, chops off their heads. He’s sort of the real-life version of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. But everyone knows he can’t remain king. Why? Because the show is a BIG HIT and no one would keep watching unless the little bastard lost the crown.
The list of usurpers is long and varied: a little blonde girl who also happens to own dragons, a sneaky pimp, a crazy pirate and an imp.
I know what you’re thinking: This sounds insane. Well, at first glance, it does sound rather bizarre. But there are other reasons why this series is so popular.
For starters, the characters are complex and intriguing. Viewers want to know whether young Arya can survive in a patriarchal society that insists that she learn how to sew, speak kindly and avoid fighting. As fighting in the realm intensifies, viewers worry about Arya simply surviving — and for good reason. At the end of season one, a prominent character quite literally gets cut. No one is safe. Viewers invest in characters at their own peril — and for those who are willing to follow the show into season three, you’d better not get too attached to some of the main characters, if the series is true to the text upon which it is based!
Another reason that the show is popular is the violence, an ingredient for a popular series. There are decapitations — two in the pilot’s first 10 minutes! There are battles! There are battles with decapitations! Also, there are torture scenes. Put it this way: there’s a rat scene that makes George Orwell’s 1984 seem tame.
Strangely, the violence is not gratuitous. The sex, however, is.
Remember when I said the show was action packed? Well, a lot of the “action” involves the beast with two backs.
There is sex. Lots of it. Vast amounts of it. The sex is so prevalent that I think HBO needs to alter the disclaimer prior to the show, the one that warns of “nudity” and “adult content.” The new warnings should be “nudity of the sweaty, pubic-haired kind,” and the “adult content” really needs to be called “adult content that is sometimes banned in Paris’ red district.” See, the sex isn’t just your garden-variety coitus. There’s prostitute sex. There’s incestuous sex. There’s guy-guy sex. There’s gal-gal sex.
We’re not even CLOSE to being done, either. There is dwarf sex. And, again, I must emphasize that I am NOT making this up — there is dwarf-prostitute sex. If Dr. Seuss were alive today, he’d have a field day:
There is sex that’s done in doggy style;
There’s brother-sister, oh so vile;
There’s two-on-one for ratio;
There’s king and knight fellatio!
The sex adds another layer of intrigue to the entire series. When new characters arrive on scene, viewers know it’s just a matter of time before they part with their clothes and experience a “little death” — the French term for orgasm.
While death abounds — both on the battlefield and in bed—you can bet that the show will experience quite a life on HBO before its end.
David Weinshilboum, who will undoubtedly tune in to the season two finale of “Game of Thrones” this evening, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.