By Dushyant Shekhawat Jan. 05, 2018
At the risk of sounding like a jilted lover, Game of Thrones has changed. The show’s seventh season was the point at which its relationship with viewers suffered from the seven-year itch.
The experience of discovering and becoming a fan of a TV show like Game of Thrones is not very different from our search for love. Sometimes, we’re set up with our shows by friends through recommendations; other times we have a chance drunken encounter during a late-night binge that transforms into something substantial. Either way, the initial weeks are spent in heady rush of marathon viewing. Then, a level of comfort sets in, and we commit to our chosen one, settling in to await each season and episode with bated breath.
My relationship with Game of Thrones began the same way. But Season 8 of GoT will not be arriving this year, and strangely enough, I feel relieved.
The show and I have reached the Ross-Rachel stage where it’s time to realise that we should be on a break. For seven seasons, I’ve been a loyal viewer, and have defended it in its early years, saying it is more than the sum of its flying body parts, tits, and dragons. I have then basked in the glow of vindication as it turned into a pop culture juggernaut.
However, at the risk of sounding like a jilted lover, GoT has changed. The show’s seventh season was also the point at which our relationship suffered from the seven-year itch. It was a dystopian season, which disregarded logic, disdained plot development, and disrespected its viewers. Even closing with the awesome visual of the Night King tearing down The Wall with his zombie ice dragon couldn’t make up for the fact that HBO put forth the show’s weakest season to date.
All of this points to relationship strain, created by years of expecting GoT to be the best thing on TV every time it airs. Add to that the massive burden of overhype that meets every season, and it’s no wonder that the last one was crap and full of errors. A year without GoT means that we will have the haze of nostalgia, and enough of a breather in which to remember the show’s golden moments: like the Battle of Blackwater and the Red Wedding, which kept us hooked for years.
This year, without GoT hogging our screens, we can finally begin to date other shows, minus the guilt of feeling like we’re neglecting our true love.
We should hold on to those memories, but let’s not get too hung up on our ex, because there’s been some seriously great TV out there since GoT premiered. During the last seven years, the HBO flagship show has eclipsed so many great offerings. For instance, the pirate extravaganza Black Sails, which mixed romance, bloodshed, intrigue, and a sweeping, period setting just as masterfully as GoT, ran through its entire four-season arc without getting its due credit. This year, without GoT hogging our screens, we can finally begin to date other shows, minus the guilt of feeling like we’re neglecting our true love.
You can check out that other hot thang on HBO, i.e. Westworld, which is due to drop its second season this year. Watch it for how it takes its mind-warping blend of the sci-fi and western genres further (way more exciting than watching Jon Snow and Daenerys engage in yet another incestuous episode). If you need a break from the gratuitous violence and rape that seems to riddle GoT, tune in to the latest season of The 100, a show set in a dystopian future that still manages to portray realistic same-sex relationships and relies on its strong female leads. Speaking of which, Season 2 of Jessica Jones is also out this year, hopefully to drag the Marvel TV show universe out of the downward spiral it’s been stuck in since Iron Fist. And then there’s Electric Dreams, an anthology series based on the work of Philip K Dick and starring heavy-hitters like Bryan Cranston and Terrence Howard, which promises to be Amazon Prime’s answer to Netflix’s Black Mirror.
In fact, anyone who has seen the episode “Hang the DJ” in the latest season of Black Mirror will be able to understand my equation with GoT at this juncture. I’m at the point where I know I want to see through my relationship with Game of Thrones, waiting for the happy ending I know we both deserve after so much time. But I’m just not ready to take the plunge, and I think a year filled with brief dalliances with everything else the TV world has to offer is just what our relationship needs.
After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Dushyant Shekhawat really likes his mustache. He grew it himself. You can find him on Twitter at @SeriousDushyant.