Three Reasons Why Game of Thrones is Overrated

Game of Thrones is Overrated

Game of Thrones is Overrated

Everyone’s jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon these days. It’s a geek’s dream come true because we finally have a serious attempt at transforming a well known fantasy series into a watchable TV show. Most shows end up doing a horrible job like the terrible “Legend of the Seeker” based on the Sword of Truth books. This is a trend. TV shows usually end up mauling the source material. So when geeks see a classy production closely following the Song of Ice and Fire book series, they go overboard praising it. And they’re right to do so. HBO makes awesome shows and it’s clear they’ve done Game of Thrones with a lot of love and respect for the source material.

Unfortunately none of that can make up for the shortcomings of the series itself. Warning: I’m not shy of giving away lots of spoilers, so read this at your own risk and peril. So here’s why the entire story line of Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire) sucks hard.

Good Guys ALWAYS Lose

I keep hearing how this series is a “breath of fresh air” where Martin isn’t afraid to kill off his main characters and that in “real life”, the good guys don’t always win etc etc. This is true. In real life, the bad guys win some and the good guys win some. Except that in Martin’s world, the good guys never win. Character after character bites the dust without gaining a victory. Ned, Robb, Catelyn, Bran…they all get shitty deals. All of them without exception betrayed. Even our darling Arya gets royally screwed.

And the baddies? While some shit happens to them, they’re essentially self goals. Joffrey gets his comeuppance not at the hands of any hero, but from within his own side. Cersei self destructs. Tywin gets it in the gut from his own son. In other words, revenge is tragically missing from the entire Game of Thrones series. All the good guys (and wolves too!) die horrible and humiliating deaths and the bad guys essentially slip down some stairs and break their neck. Like I said in “real life”, both goodies and baddies will have victories. But Martin is just a sadist.

I get the feeling that whenever Martin feels like his plot is losing its way or is in danger of being resolved, he just sits down and thinks “Hmm..this can’t happen. Let’s kill someone!” In other words, he uses the death of his characters as a substitute for plot development and for sheer shock value hoping that others will laud him for being “gritty” and “real”.

No New Engaging Characters

I wouldn’t mind Martin polishing off his characters if he comes up with new ones at the same rate with which they exit the stage. But he doesn’t. Instead, he gives us lame creatures like Davos who no one really cares for. And then he kills him too! So who the hell is left? Brienne?

So while the initial books were riveting for the sole reason that tragedy and betrayal abound, Martin pays the price for his carelessness by not having a plot to carry the story forward. No wonder he took five years to come out with “Dance with Dragons” and openly admitted that he was working on other stuff in the meantime. He didn’t know what to do with the story! He’d killed off or crippled every single person of interest to us on Westeros so what more was left?

Moral of the story: Don’t be so casual with your main characters. We were emotionally invested in them and you chose a single big payoff by disposing of them at the cost of future story lines. Congratulations. You now have colorless remains. I haven’t even bothered to pick up Dance with Dragons because I saw nothing in the previous book to interest me further. My wife started reading it, and gave up halfway. Too boring. Did anyone expect differently? When your main characters are missing it’s like trying to squeeze water out of a rock.

It’s not Real Fantasy

At the most, we can say that the series has a passing acquaintance with magic elements. A couple of dragon scenes and veiled references to “walkers” do not a fantasy make. I initially picked this up because I was told it was one of the best fantasy writings ever. The truth however is that it’s basically fictional history. The fantasy elements are kept down to a minimum or are even non existent. I felt pretty cheated.

So much potential. All wasted by lazy storytelling. The solution to the current hysteria is to have more good fantasy novels converted into TV series with the same attention to detail and production quality that HBO is showing the with Song of Ice and Fire series. Only then will we get a sense of perspective and finally stop mooning over Game of Thrones simply because it’s all we have to look forward to at the moment.

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  1. Green Knight says:

    I do not agree with point 3, that it’s not fantasy. You don’t categorize fantasy by the amount of flashy magic there is. I’ve read books, fantasy books, with less magic/monsters than Game of Thrones.

    Points 1 and 2: you hit spot on. Ned’s death had shock and novelty value. By the time Robb died readers didn’t much care. And almost without exception the new POV characters are far less engaging than the old ones. Plus Martin is writing longer and longer books, watering down the story until its just lukewarm piss – endless pages of nothing. And with Dance with Dragons: an entire book with almost nothing IMPORTANT happening over who knows how many pages.

    HBO’s series has in fact reinforced my mounting dissatisfaction with the books: I watched seasons 1-3 with great (but eventually dwindling) interest. Very well done series.

    But I struggled with season 4. And I quickly realized why: it’s not fun anymore. The good characters are gone. We get a lot of Danerys (not the most interesting character to begin with) playing at queen (perhaps the least engaging sequences of the entire series).

    I still haven’t finished series 4. Perhaps I never will.


  2. Jason says:

    I agree with most of this, though I would put this in the low fantasy setting. My issues with the writing are that it’s full of lazy and very predictable plotting, and that there is no one to root for. Everyone you want to root for dies, IMHO, with the exception of Bran, Arya, and strangely, Tyrian. Of course, I stopped reading after book 2, though I read enough online to know what happens mostly…and that’s the really sad part. I don’t need to read the books to know what happened and feel satisfied.
    Bran and Arya get hosed and do we really want to root for Tyrian? He’s a decent guy, honorable and all that but his every victory supports his family and I can’t stand the rest of them.
    And is it me or all the supposedly good people just plain stupid? They all die because they are stupid and make stupid decisions–Ned, Caetlyn, Robb…the list goes on and on.
    Martin’s a great story-teller but a very mediocre writer.


  3. schlomo says:

    I agree. The good guys never win and it’s intentional. GOT is a propaganda exercise by the new World Order to condition the public into accepting a worldview in which the bad guys always win and deserve to win. Where torture is acceptable and necessary, where the abuse of innocent women and children by nasty sadists is constant and just part of the world.

    Thus the abhorrent actions of the central banking oligarchy, murdering and harrassing millions across the planet, murdering thousands in their false flags and black ops to achieve political goals, spreading lab engineered viruses and intentionally collapsing society to implement their Orwellian world government over the chaos and division is more acceptable in the public consciousness….after all that’s just what the powerful do right?

    It’s also about destroying hope and trust in one’s fellow man. They want to divide society, erode the social fabric and instil a Darwinian dog-eat-dog mentality in society to make it more easily manipulated, divided and controlled.

    One also notes the heavily Satanic content. The Lord of Light is Lucifer for starters.


  4. a cat's slave says:

    I have never watched the show because it looks silly but I started reading at the behest of my son who likes the books. Twenty pages in I’m like “This is not fantasy, this is just history with name changes!”.
    Men squabbling violently with other men over land, power, resources, what does this remind you of?? Oh and surprise surprise, some dude has already pimped his little sister. Ho hum. Good fantasy writers imagine new and original templates.


  5. jd says:

    “It’s not real fantasy” isn’t a criticism of the show, it’s a criticism of how people label it. Everything else in this article is 100% dead-on, though.

    This show is just awful, despite a promising first season. Bad dialogue, cringe-worthy use of exposition, incessant two-on-two character scenes, tons of paper-thin characters and time spent developing them for no reason, and a narrative that just spins its wheels while we wait for winter to come so this bloated piece of shit can be put out of its misery.

    It’s a meandering soap opera punctuated by meaningless brutality. How people (and respected critics!) compare this rubbish to the likes of The Wire or The Sopranos mystifies me.


  6. Christopher Mankey says:

    Fuck off.Hipster

    But you’re right. it’s crap!


  7. Brian Sachetta says:

    I’ve got to agree with just about everything here. My friends really liked the books and loved the show and I needed something to read so I gave the first one a shot. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible, and my friends kept saying it would get much better so I figured I’d keep going. Book 3 was actually pretty great because so much happens, but books 4 and 5 really suffer because after Martin kills off most of the characters in book 3 there’s really not much left. Sure, there’s still the Wall and King’s Landing, but the Wall is boring IMO, half the people are dead at King’s landing, and Cersei is an insufferable POS.

    I had a lot of people tell me that these books were the best thing of all time and that Martin is a genius. (That was one of my main reasons for pressing on even when it was boring). What I gathered in the 5 books thus far is that Martin is a fairly decent story teller but not the incredible writer most people make him out to be (again IMO).

    I won’t be continuing on with books 6 and 7 but I am still curious to see how the series finishes out. For what it’s worth, I really think Martin should have made each book about 300 pages rather than close to 1000. There’s very little excitement in books 4 and 5 (close to 2000 pages). The HBO show is, quite undeniably, well done, so I can see why people like it. But the story line sucks.


  8. AJ says:

    I have to disagree with all points. Mostly on the basis that the rest of the show has either redeemed all of these points or shown the potential to redeem them.

    Point 1: Good guys ALWAYS lose.
    The good guys have won and they have lost. Your point is akin to watching Star Wars: A New Hope, then Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and then saying the good guys always lose. There were most certainly victories for the supposed “good guys” in the first 3 seasons. Not to mention that Daenerys has only shown victories so far, albeit some of them bittersweet. Not to mention that many of the “bad guys” have shown much more complexity as their characters have been developed. Take Jaime Lannister, who was clearly an evil character in the beginning. After a certain traumatic event happened to him, he has shown much more traits of a “good character” while still showing a number of undesirable traits. The truth is that the story starts us off in this Good Vs Evil battle where the good and evil characters seem clearly defined. Then by further developing them, they turn into complex characters who all have their own motivations and sometimes perform evil actions, and sometimes good actions. The story has progressed and taken the viewers away from this fantasy notion of good versus evil, and into more of a realistic world where it’s not always so clearly defined for everyone whether they are purely evil or purely good.

    Not to mention that both Arya and Bran are still alive and may yet have a chance to seek revenge or get the upper hand in the long run.

    Point 2: Davos is certainly not meant to fill any voids left by the killing off of many main characters, however after further time has passed, we get to know more about the characters still alive. This gives more of a chance to develop the complexity I was speaking about in point 1. It seems that you were just put off by the Red Wedding scene and didn’t even give the show much of a chance to introduce you to new characters. Having a hero show up and you instantly empathizing with him or her never happens in reality, just as it doesn’t happen so easily in Game of Thrones.

    Point 3: The lack of fantasy elements. In case you haven’t noticed, there were basically no real magical fantasy elements revealed to us in the first season up until the end. The closest thing was the hinting at of White Walkers and the Dire Wolves. But as the story has progressed, it slowly has taken the audience out of the realm of what is considered “Low Fantasy”, and it has slowly introduced more and more “High Fantasy” elements.

    TLDR: You should give more of the show a chance if you want to understand why your points don’t make sense with hindsight.


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