Game of Thrones has got to be the single most fascinating show on television right now. Not because of the plot or the characters or anything as traditional as those things. No, it's fascinating because no matter how much I stop and think about it, I cannot sum up this show as anything other than, "A bunch of people, mostly assholes, who just stand around talking to each other while wearing fur."

And you can't sum it up as anything else either. Not really, at least. Oh sure, there's lots of intrigue, backstabbing, character depth, and enough exposed mammary glands to make a giant waterfall of titties… if that was a thing. I don't think it is. If it is, someone tell me what to put into Google Maps that takes me there.

I like to chalk up the show's popularity to the Jersey Shore effect, where people simply watch a show and think, "Well, hey, at least I'm better than those guys." But any time I try and explain the show to someone who hasn't seen it already (the ones who have cannot accurately explain it either, but nor do they need it explained), I simply can't get them interested.

"So…what's it about?"

"It's this big fantasy epic!"

"Like Lord of the Rings?"

"Sort of."

"So there's lots of magic and monsters and giant armies?"

"Well…there's like two guys who use magic…and then you never really see them again after like…one episode each…"

"But all the dragons and orcs make up for it, right?"

"Well, there aren't any orcs…and the only three dragons left in the world are babies…so they…can't really…"

"But you said there's a lot of battles, right? Swords and shields and whatnot?"

"Oh, tons! Shit-tons! Fuckloads of shit-tons!"

"And I'll bet those look pretty awesome, huh?"

"…well…"

"Well what?"

"Well they don't really show most of the battles, per se…"

"…so it's not really like Lord of the Rings?"

"Well…there are some gay guys in it."

"Legolas only looked like a woman."

"The elf? No dude. Am I the only one who got that vibe from Samwise and Frodo?"

"…are you the one who keeps flooding my inbox with that fan-fic porn?"

"…no."

"You're OrcSandwich69 aren't you?"

"…but yeah, Game of Thrones is pretty cool."

More or less like that.

And it's not like people are flocking to see their favorite actors or anything. How many of you knew Peter Dinklage by a name other than "that one dwarf who isn't that other dwarf you always see in movies" before Game of Thrones came out? I thought so. The only other half-marketable name they had was Sean Bean, and in the biggest movie he was ever in, he got killed off really early on. Kind of like in Game of Thrones. SPOILER ALERT: That last sentence had some spoilers in it. END SPOILERS!

Also, it's slow. Like, legally I think it counts as being a quadriplegic underwater.

Prime example, the White Walkers.

They're zombies, or like, Ice Zombie Warlords that make people in zombies. Or something. They haven't completely explained that yet. The first time we see them is the very beginning of the very first episode. It's literally the first thing that happens. And it is quite obvious that holy shit, these are some bad motherfuckers and need to be dealt with now!

Guess when they become a relevant plot point again?

If you guessed Season 2 finale, then congrats! You've either seen the show, or else you just have a knack for guessing really weird, mundane, and ultimately useless things.

Horses in Game of Thrones
"Whoa, you're still here… Uhh, yeah, just give the writers another minute while we sit around awkwardly on these horses…"

But the slowness of it all gives the writers time to really flesh out these characters. They have personalities that extend beyond a single, tired stereotype. They have their own motivations and methods of thinking and codes of morality. They have emotion. Hell, these aren't characters, these are fucking people.

Which is why this show should have imploded after a single episode.

The public at large fucking hates things that break the norm. They punish those things. These days it's pretty standard practice for a story arc to last the entire run of a show, let alone a whole season at a time. As opposed to most shows of the past, where it was an episode-long plotline that was always resolved at the end. With maybe an occasional reoccurring thread that pops up every now and then. And other than a few shows, it took a while for the TV watching public to really get into the idea. Why? Because fuck change, that's why.

And Game of Thrones really is different. So by logic, it should have been destroyed.

So what gives? Ten million people tuned in to watch the Season 2 finale, which may not seem like absolutely mind-blowing numbers, compared to some other season finales in history, but remember, this is HBO, where you actually have to pay to see this shit. Which may in fact contribute to it being the single most pirated show currently on the air. No, really. People apparently really want to see some medieval titties.

To be fair, boobs are pretty much man's primary motivating factor behind almost everything he does. But damn near everyone I know who likes this show is a woman. And the polls aren't skewed that heavily towards one gender or another, so unless the frat boy fantasy that absolutely every woman in the world wants to sleep with all the other women turns out to be true, I'm not sure if we can take this into consideration.

I like to try and chalk up the show's startling popularity to the Jersey Shore effect, where more or less, people simply watch a show about the absolute worst people in the world and think, "Well, hey, at least I'm better than those guys." Because apparently the only way you can feel better about yourself is by watching literally the worst people television could find. If that's true, then holy shit dude, like, go accomplish something. Paint. Try yoga. Steal one of Steven Tyler's scarves. Just, just anything where you actually do something.

Anyhow, back to the topic.

But this theory must unfortunately be shelved. For all but the saddest among us. Because while Jersey Shore or any other reality show about Cancerexplosionpeopleherpes (trademark pending), where they are actual people who just have cameras pointed at them (contrary to popular opinion, reality TV is pretty real. It may use some shady tactics to show you what they want you to see, but it's still real), Game of Thrones is made up. Completely. All of it. The Starks aren't real.

At the beginning of every episode, you're reminded by the sweeping, epic fantasy score that makes even something as mundane as dishes feel like a task worthy of knighthood upon completion. You're reminded by a view of a globe that's clearly of another world. You're reminded because it tells you it's based on the fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin.

It doesn't work. Or, at least, it shouldn't.

People really like shitheads. Or, at least, they love to hate them. Hell, here's a ten minute loop of Geoffrey, the most hateable shithead on TV right now, getting slapped, while "Achilles Last Stand" plays in the background.

People sit through that. The whole thing. I know. I've done it. It's actually kind of awesome.

Likable characters are almost completely absent from this show, and when they don't do something shitty to make you hate them, they usually get punished for being good. So, most people are watching the show because of the shitheads.

The good in me wants to think that this is because on some level, we want to watch them get what they have coming to them, which I think is true, because people love watching people get what's coming to them. Especially famous people. Or rich people. Or pretty people. And that's what almost everyone in the show is. All of those things. Pretty, rich and powerful. So it's so much fun to watch them fall.

But they never do. They just…get away with it. Whatever they do, they get away with.

So it's not about watching petty shitheads get what's coming to them. And it's not about hoping that the few likable characters triumph, because they usually only get about two minutes of screen time per episode.

So what gives?

…oh, what? Were you waiting for me to give an actual answer? Some detailed psychological analysis backed by links to some guy with a doctorate explaining everything? Hahaha! Oh man, you really don't get me very well, do you? A month or so back I wrote an article detailing the best ways to get shitfaced off of degreasing compound. Before that I advised that you dip your baby in radioactive materials just to see what kind of superpowers it would get. Clearly I am not the guy to go to if you want a smart answer on something.

But I guess I have to close with some sort of statement about the popularity of the show. So I'm gonna go ahead and throw a bone to my cocaine chomping buddy, Freud, and just say it's because every single person in the world has crazy incest fantasies all of the time, all day every day.

You fucking perverts.

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