• Friday, October 24, 2014

You Aren't Too Good to Watch the Show

Zarif Masud
The Iron Throne as described in the books.
The Iron Throne as described in the books.

Game of Thrones is now done with its 4th season. It was arguably the biggest thing on TV this year (after the FIFA World Cup). One of its biggest achievements is that GoT managed to amass fans from all corners. But there've been a few fans that are angry with the TV show.
The season has had a few controversial and/or shocking moments that have fans confused and in some cases divided opinions. I've had to listen to some of my friends who have read the books (as I have) complain about how the series has become downright bad, and excessively commercial and mainstream. Recent seasons have too much fanservice in the way of nudity. Some of them would say the series is beneath them and how the books are so much better. I kind of sympathise, having gone through something similar with the Harry Potter movies. Love the books, hate the movies.
Here's the thing, guys. They are not mutually exclusive. The books being brilliant do not take anything away from the series. The series can be pretty cool too.
Let's go over this properly: “The books are so much better.”
How do you measure that really? It's ridiculous to try and compare the two because they are so different. I am a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire, but to judge the series based on your expectations of what it should be after reading the books is unfair. The two mediums are inherently different. Audio-visual mediums excel in certain departments while books excel in certain others. To make the show more interesting, they need to change certain things.
For example, in the books, you can see what a person is thinking or feeling about an incident. You can't really do that in a motion picture. Not without Morgan Freeman narrating it, anyway. That's why you have changes to Bran's arc, for example. In the books, you have Bran crossing the wall. Not much else happens. But it's still somewhat interesting because you follow what Bran is doing, what he is thinking and how he views the world. It's all part of the character development. Imagine how drab it would have been if we had to watch Bran walking for hours on end and occasionally possessing Hodor's body and going, "HODOR! HODOR!"
(Not that bad, actually. Hodor!)


Moreover, the books are huge. Each book is on an average 600 pages long. The stories are complicated and lengthy. Why is it a sin to omit certain unnecessary characters from the series? Really, Strong Belwas was just big and fat. He's not essential.
Fanservice? Well, yes. It's an HBO series, after all. But you liked the first season, yes? How the heck was the first season any better off in this regard?
Commercial? It's entertainment. It's supposed to be commercial. The important thing is to hold on to your audience and I believe GoT has managed to do that. If you don't like it, just don't watch it. I skipped season 3 completely because I didn't feel like watching it.
Before I finish, here's an observation.
You like ASOIAF. You've read all the books. Then this kid comes to you and tells you he's a huge fan but you find out he's only seen the series. He doesn't even know the names of the characters properly and calls Daenerys 'Khaleesi'. You get annoyed because he is clearly not qualified to call himself a fan. There's a whole plethora of 'fans' like him now. In your opinion, these people are all band-wagoners. Moreover, you don't care much for the series because you've read all the books and the series can't ever measure up to them. After all, your imagination is the most awesome television.
Maybe that's why you hate the show right now: because of the fans. But this isn't a good reason to hate on the show, because of course it'll want to gain a larger audience. You can't hold that against it.
The reason I love what the series is doing is because of how it is marketing the fantasy genre, how people are taking it more seriously now. Previously, there had been a few movies and rarely ever any TV series based on fantasy books. There were quite a few other undertakings that never got off the ground. But now, we can be hopeful that the success of GoT will inspire more TV shows based on the fantasy genre. Imagine how cool it would have been if we had a Harry Potter series rather than the movies that we do have.

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, June 19, 2014

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