How I missed Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones keychains

When it comes time to admit to people that I didn't watch Game of Thrones, I’m met with a variety of reactions, usually shock, sometimes disgust. How could I possibly have missed out?

How indeed. The show gained traction early in its run and almost immediately, I had people asking if I’d seen it. Eventually, it grew to a point where I couldn’t ignore its prevalence in popular culture. I decided to give it a few episodes but wasn’t that engaged, despite pressure from others who insisted that I continue because it just gets better and better. That was years ago. Now, with the show's series finale having premiered in May 2019 (a lifetime ago in TV terms), I'm still as much a clueless outsider as ever.

For a while during the show's final few seasons, it was the topic of conversation everywhere I went and most notably, it wasn't a show that was sweeping just the internet alone. Rather, it's what's came to be known as "watercooler TV", the kind of thing you hear people of all ages and demographics discussing at work, over dinner, at uni as well as online. As a result, I know a lot of the major plot events, because if you didn’t hear about a certain character’s death via memes or twitter threads, then you’d hear about it somewhere else in your day to day life. Game of Thrones overwhelmingly infiltrated my life and broader culture which is fairly amazing when you consider that, for a long time, it wasn't exactly the most accessible show to watch. Even now, it’s not on Netflix or other popular streaming services (outside of Binge, a new arrival on the streaming scene) and if you don’t have Foxtel, your only option was to purchase it or illegally download it. Nonetheless, Game of Thrones thrived.

So, will I ever watch it? Probably. Until recently, I had no desire to do so because people from all areas of my life kept telling me that I needed to watch it and you know how that works: the more someone tries to convince you to do something, the less likely you are to do it. I had to get there on my own. Still, the reality is, even if I do start the series, I’ve missed out on the thrill of the collective viewing experience and my experience will likely be more in line with the typical ways in which we now view content; binging it in one condensed period, as most popular culture is now consumed. I’m not too proud to recognise that I may have overlooked something special - a show that is released weekly and watched at the same time by a mass of people (19.3 million people watched the series finale). It’s simply not how we consume media anymore and for all we know, it might be the last instance of television being received as an event, something to be consumed collectively and in unison, rather than streamed intermittently from different laptops at different times across the world.

I guess I have to cut my losses and accept that if I ever do watch the show, I'll be doing so alone. I only hope that by the time I catch up, there will still be someone interested in discussing the true meaning of Hodor.

Tagged in What messes with your head, TV, Culture, streaming, Student life