301 days without Game of Thrones

As we slowly reach the end of an agonising 301-day stretch between the last episode of Season 4 and the first episode of season 5 (premiering on April 12), let’s briefly reflect on the cultural hysteria of ‘Game of Thrones obsession’. Needless to say: spoiler alert.

What makes it so addictive?

It’s not by chance that HBO have one of the most successful television shows of all time on their hands. They obviously saw the enormous potential in George R.R. Martin’s books, worthy of significant investment. Plain and simple: it’s a great story, full of rich characters and unpredictable twists. In fact, the story is so complex that an adaptation would only make sense in a television environment, allowing us to spend 10 hours a year, fully immersed in this world.

Credit is also largely due to the production team behind the show, led by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who have consistently and increasingly raised the bar every season. The task of selecting, omitting and structuring material from five books (so far) in the series could be nothing short of head-spinning. It’s their vision for the show that keeps readers of the books and unaccustomed viewers coming back each week.

Why are spoilers such a big deal?

I jumped on board just before Season 2 premiered and managed to watch all 10 episodes of season 1 spoiler-free. Let’s just say, it took me a while to recover from Ned Stark’s death. I did not see that coming. The dude was on the poster! It’s Sean Bean – he’s a pretty big name actor, y’know. How could they kill him off? I digress…

By the time the Red Wedding episode rolled around, I had become familiarised with the fact that the books were renowned for unexpectedly killing off characters. Yet somehow I remained spoiler-free and again fell right into that trap of caring too much about a group of characters (I’m looking at you, Starks). I remember sitting motionless for a good 10 minutes, utterly stunned/traumatised by the whole thing. “Red Wedding reaction” videos on YouTube are ominously accurate.

So, after all this bloodshed and emotional turmoil, you’d think I would’ve learned, right? Nope. Enter Oberyn Martell, an alluring new character that’s come to the rescue of series favourite Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). And then this happens:

Ei2vBWD

The point I’m trying to make is that Game of Thrones, the television show, is now distinguished by these shocking moments. Moments where people jump off their couches with their hands on their heads screaming “NOOOO!” (That might just be me). The thing is, there’s a peculiar enjoyment to this induced distress, as well as pure delight in the rare satisfying moments. I’m constantly on the edge of my seat and hanging on every word. If I knew what was going to happen, this experience would just not be the same.

I’m especially careful not to read anything online that might jeopardise this experience, so I intend to remain SPOILER-FREE.

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