At first, I was kind put off by this series. Being a person who spends her morning reciting chants related to gratitude, peace, cooperation, clarity, I had to take a few deep breaths after the second episode and ask myself: “is this good for me, really?” But my sister told me to hang on through episode three when “the guy with the big boobs” (Khal Drogo) slips closer to center stage. Only my sister can woo me into such a superficial state as this, yet I am continuously in awe at how much stands to be gained from following her suggestions.
Indeed, this show’s a swift drop kick into the rough side of reality in a medieval fantasy land, yet it’s a necessary look at some characteristics we barely recognize because we live such easy lives. Life and death sit on the shoulders of the politicians, and every episode features at least one life-affirming line. Amidst the lingering, earthy brothel scenes and the slashed throats, ripped-out tongues, horse decapitations and heads on spits, there began to take shape some deep meaning. In other words, the characters started to feel like family.
I’m not going to go into much detail in this description, except to say that the story is based on various clans of people who are increasingly positioned in greater and greater states of tension with one another. A couple of characters are so slimy and snaky that you find yourself cheering at their death. Others, so noble and critical to the plot that their demise causes shock and tears.
These people, their lives, their situations, are so well constructed that they linger steadfastly in our minds; in essence, they could be any part of our egos. We KNOW these people, and in some cases we ARE these people and would aspire to do the same things if the circumstances were more base. Just because we’re not galloping around with shields, bartering over dragon eggs, slashing people’s entrails out with swords and sleeping with our siblings doesn’t mean we can’t go there with them in every way but physically.
Tyrion Lannister inspires us with his ability to overcome his stature as a constant advertisement of weakness–his wit more than compensates for his height. The ‘bastard son,’ Jon Snow can’t seem to hide his anger at being an outcast at birth, but neither can we blame him as his endearing heart and inner conflict texturize the plot. Unrequited love eats through the chest of a bitter queen, Cersei Lannister, who manipulates the crap out of every situation with a precision so great that nobody can quite get her under their thumb—that look in her eyes does. not. change. … and we come to depend on it as the shadow of all that’s good in a world we’re increasingly absorbed in.
There’s the integral Stark clan, lead by Catelyn and Eddard, who’s words and actions summon everything in us that is good and brave, upright and truth-telling. Yet, truly, nobody in this series is immune–shit hits even the best people’s fans.
Prince Joffrey Baratheon is so unbelievably twisted in his weakness and delusion that I almost can’t stand to look at him! And his black soul’s twin, Viserys Targaryen, is the definition of insecurity and power-hungry volatility.
I could go on and on, but of course I must mention the couple who adds all the super nature, meaningful sex and tribal violence to the mix. “Moon of My Life,” Daenerys Targaryen and her “Sun and Stars” Khal Drogo. These two have something special if they can turn a dragon bloodline meets undefeated pony-tail (big-boobed) warrior, royal sex slave turned primal horse-heart-eating love queen couple arch into the TV romance of the decade!
So many more characters fill up a chessboard of circumstances, motivations, allegiances, strengths and weaknesses.
The coolest thing about this series, though, is the time it’s set in. It’s a lovely escape into crude, life and death contracts, no-holds-barred sexuality and the reemergence of honor, deception, bravery and cunning in their most Technicolor form.
Beyond this, every character hits us and, one day or another, as we’re humming the show’s theme in our heads, we realize that they all must exist to some degree in us if they resonate so strongly. It’s a good one to get into, shadow side and all.