The world practically divides into two categories: who followed Game of Thrones and who doesn’t even want to get close to it. There are subgroups, but basically today they lead social networks and even divide friends and family. It’s okay if you’re part of the second team, because nothing more natural when something turns unanimous and fever, to take a step back. It’s healthy. And yes, the fantasy genre isn’t really for everyone and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if I may, I will discuss both views, defending both when possible. The massive publicity campaign for the release of House of the Dragon is on such a high level that it is worth reflecting on.
The franchise of the series Game of Thrones was already a mega success in literature even before reaching HBO and even then it was an uncertain bet. That’s because Pillars of the Earth had flopped a few years earlier, and the cast relied pretty much on actor Sean Bean as the one with any international prominence. In addition, the cast was filled with unknown faces and names, such as Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington, practically making their debuts as actors (Kit was already successful in the theater). In 10 years, they have all gone from being “who’s that?” to some of the biggest stars of entertainment, with other franchises in their filmography, with brands that include everything from X-Men to Star Wars. You may not have seen the series, simplified by fans for the initials GOT, but I don’t doubt you know its stars.
Although it was successful in the first two seasons, which were reasonably faithful to the books, it was towards the end of the third season that Game of Thrones became a pop cultural phenomenon, breaking the barriers of all the “truths” that the industry defended in the beginning of the series. Things like “niche content doesn’t sell”, “they only like anti-heroes” (Jon Snow silenced this aspect), “binge ended the weekly episode strategy”, among others, were contradicted by GOT. Even the use of “nobody is safe,” which was not groundbreaking, took unpredictability to another degree.
Many list several factors to turn the brand into this worldwide fever, but it was HBO‘s wisdom of doing simultaneous airing that turned Game of Thrones into an event similar to a Football Championship. Roundtables, Twitters, YouTubers and Reddit bring together people around the world to discuss theories, opinions and share information in a universe of their own. The proof that they hit the nail on the head is that, when comparing GOT to hits like The X-Files or Lost, we can even argue that the difference in social media was vital, but Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead were not equaled the success of the HBO series and are contemporary. The answer to success lies in chemistry. Even with all the prestige that HBO already had, nothing in its 50 years of existence has had the same reach. And we are talking about the content platform that changed television, such as The Sopranos and Sex and the City, to name just two of its titles.
Of course, it is possible to “not see and not like” Game of Thrones because you are tired of hearing people talk about a story with zombies and dragons. The only thing you can’t do is ignore its strength. To make matters worse, not even the gap of a few years has reduced demand or discussion around the series, so the ultra-aggressive campaign for its spin off, House of the Dragon seems to border on hysteria. The bad news? It will be on the air for at least a few more good years…
For fantasy fans, Game of Thrones is Disneyland. George R. R. Martin used Tolkien‘s classics as a guide, joining them to medieval British history as inspiration and with that he created a fantasy with a foot in reality – something paradoxical – and it’s also one of the charms of the franchise.
Having said all that, I share the tiredness of those who don’t like it and still have to deal with so much hype around House of the Dragon. It’s really exaggerated. But if you want to check it out, there are good things. Among them, the saga of the Targaryen family, unlike Game of Thrones, is practically all written, which saves the new series from the controversial fate of its predecessor. As the plot takes place BEFORE Game of Thrones, if you haven’t seen it, it won’t make a difference. It works completely independently. And the production investment is on par with film productions for the cinema. It won’t be rough.
But, if you still have a dislike for the franchise, ok. The Rings of Power (a prequel to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) follows on Amazon Prime Video. There’s no shortage of content!