The Cult of Game of Thrones

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HBO’s Game of Thrones is undoubtedly one of the best fictional TV series today. As a matter of fact, it is one of the most talked-about TV series online. This is because Game of Thrones (GoT) offers the viewer a fantasy-adventure series dosed with magic, fiction, and actual history. Moreover, the GoT storyline provides its viewers with valuable insights into humans’ basic instinctual drives of self-perpetuation and self-preservation, intricately intertwined with political, social, and religious complexities and intrigues.

The GoT TV series offers a different and more complex approach in illustrating a character’s arc by using point-of-view (POV) or character’s perspective to “paint” a story. This POV or character’s view of the story makes GoT’s storyline vaguer, if not more confusing. This kind of storyline presentation along with the production design, computer-generated images (CGI), and other visual effects transports viewers to a fascinating alternate world packed with magic, zombies, giants, and dragons, resulting in GoT’s huge following.

The Growing GoT Cult and Popularity

HBO’s Game of Thrones series has registered an unprecedented success rate. During the airing of GoT’s first season, viewers were readily subjected to the show’s compelling presentation that left the viewers apprehensive of the favored character’s fate. When the season was over, the viewers were left speculating and clamoring for more, impatiently waiting for its next season. The endless discussion and speculation across social media drew more and more like-minded audience members into eventually watching and following GoT. In America alone, GoT’s fanbase had grown from 2 to 3 million during the first season, to more than 12 million during Season 7 according to surveys.

The show’s popularity, however, attracts not only believers but also critics. GoT had its share of criticisms, especially for its explicit sexual and lurid violent content. Women’s groups were particularly alarmed by the frequent showing of sexual abuses and exploitation of the female gender. But despite these criticisms, GoT’s following steadily grows, not only in America, but also across the globe—a following that can only be described as almost cult-like. Moreover, GoT is definitely the most widely hacked and pirated TV series in the world. And unlike most TV series—with similar genres and whose popularity are somewhat erratic—GoT’s 95% approval rating is on a steady climb.

A Different Kind of Show

To many viewers, GoT belongs to the league of blockbuster movies like The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars series. But due to the explicit graphical and verbal content of the series, GoT can only be watched by mature viewers. Yet, there are many scenes in the show that can briefly bring out the child in every viewer. Moreover, GoT is definitely replete with surprises and uncertainties wherein even the main characters are suddenly killed, giving the viewers a nasty shock. Additionally, GoT showrunners keep their viewers from being complacently sure of the story.

Unlike most movie and TV presentations that portray a typical never-ending struggle between good and evil, white against black, light versus darkness, GoT undertook a sort of a divorce procedure from the mainstream good-versus-evil storyline. GoT provides an alternative perspective about the internal conflicts of its characters. GoT also presents its characters with shades of grey—neither totally good nor totally evil. The characters’ actions are built upon circumstances, driven by the characters’ ambition, belief, and need to survive. Lastly, according to George R. R. Martin—the author of the book series, A Song of Ice and Fire—on which GoT is based: “True horrors in human history” was “not from orcs or dark lords, but from ourselves.”