With the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones in full swing and a fourth season already on the cards for 2014, it’s safe to say that the fantasy series, adapted from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, has well and truly reached cult status. With a host of exotic locations, mythical creatures, characters you outright love and love to hate, and more than enough sex and violence to cause its fair share of joy and controversy respectively, Game of Thrones is one of the most adored shows on television at the moment.
The series centres on a struggle for power within the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and Essos, with a number of noble (and not so noble) houses battling it out for the Iron Throne. Swirling around the power struggle like a vicious tornado are the issues of war, social hierarchy, sexuality, love, punishment, duty, revenge and, probably most imperative to George R. R. Martin’s fictional world, survival. The big budget allocated to the series has ensured that Game Of Thrones is on a par with all the best fantasy TV shows and films.
But what is it that makes us geek-out every Monday night when a brand new episode is served up in front of us? Here’s what…
1. Game of Thrones is ruthless. It’s frighteningly unpredictable, dealing out fatal punches right, left and centre to both the characters on screen and the viewers watching. True to the books, the series is fearless in its execution, unafraid of killing off much-loved characters or ruining them for all eternity. Whilst this approach might have us gawking at our screens in disbelief as the latest head gets lopped off, you simply have to know what happens next.
2. The scale is pure Hollywood epic. Think Lord of the Rings awesomeness and that’s what we’re working with. The vast financial backing maintains the quality we see on screen, making everything from the costumes to the weather completely realistic. There’s never a moment when you don’t believe in the GOT world.
3. It gives us the best underdog characters to unashamedly root for. Tyrion and Jon Snow are the least respected lead characters in the series, which makes them easily the most loved in real life. True to the saying, everyone loves an underdog.
4. Nothing is ever black and white. Game of Thrones doesn’t have a definite right or wrong, good or bad. The lines are always blurred, allowing us to hate a character one episode and adore them the next. Don’t be surprised if you find your allegiances shifting between houses or people on a regular basis.
5. It’s full of fierce female characters. We’ve got everyone’s favourite Mother of Dragons Daenerys, the not-so-favourite Cersei and the new favourite Margaery. Then there’s Talisa, Shae, Brienne, and who could forget little but fearless Arya?! Gone are the days where women are the damsels in distress; in Game of Thrones women are strong, feisty and, 9 times out of 10, just as brave as the men.
6. Beautiful scenery and cinematography. Much like the aforementioned Lord of the Rings, the visuals in Game of Thrones are spectacular and the effort put into making each kingdom look so different is extraordinary.
7. Intelligent script & dialogue. As with any high profile show, a clever script is the one thing to ultimately keep viewers watching week after week. Game of Thrones never falters in being intelligent and sophisticated, whilst still managing to provide plenty of banter and vulgar chat between characters.
8. Realistic fight scenes. You can’t get through one episode without at least a little bloodshed and it’s all the better for it. The fight scenes are exactly what they should be – brutal, bloody and expertly choreographed. There’s no tiptoeing around violence here.
9. It’s ultimate fantasy and fandom heaven, complete with kings, queens, knights, castles and kingdoms. There are only so many sitcoms a person can watch before they crave something different. Game of Thrones is the most original contemporary fantasy TV show in years.
10. They have dragons. Enough said.
11. The best, albeit lengthy, title sequence to a television show ever. The intro provides us with an epic three-dimensional map of the world and has changed on numerous occasions to fit in with the locations featured in certain episodes. The popular medieval music has inspired numerous parodies and covers, most notably a violin version by Jason Yang.
12. There’s huge scope for the future. With so many interesting characters and intertwined subplots in existence, Game of Thrones can only get better with each subsequent season. I can already see season five, six and seven on the horizon and all I can say is – bring it on!