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I binged Game of Thrones… Is it still it worth it?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Scranton chapter.

So, when House of the Dragon came out I got massive FOMO. I couldn’t help but want to be a part of the millions of Game of Thrones fans who wait all week for the next episode. Knowing that I was missing out on a kind of pop culture that may not come again was too much for me to handle. The only issue… I’ve never seen Game of Thrones.

So there my issue was—do I catch up and watch Game of Thrones in order to watch House of the Dragon live? Challenge accepted!

In around one month, I managed to watch all 8 seasons. That’s 73 episodes and 70 hours and 13 minutes. To do the math for you, that’s only about 2.4 episodes per day butttttttttt I watched it more like a season in two days and then a two-day break and then starting over again. I don’t recommend this method, although it is perfect for optimal delusion.

Basically, I started episode one on a random Tuesday and never looked back.

So, the question I am here to answer for you is a simple, but loaded one: Was it worth binging Game of Thrones? More specifically—was it worth binging Game of Thrones to catch up and watch House of the Dragon?

There are a couple elements of the show worth touching on. The cast, writing/plotline, overarching themes and controversies, and the community of fans are all worth mentioning. Of course, things like the infamous “red wedding” and universally hated season eight must be acknowledged, but I’ll make a point to leave out any spoilers since I’m writing this for those who haven’t seen it yet.

With that being said, let’s begin!

I first want to talk about episode length and information quality. When it comes to HBO, they do not hold back. Although the seasons are short (the longest being 10 episodes and the

shortest being 6) the episodes can be lengthy. With each being around an hour long, it can be time consuming and overwhelming to simply start watching.

I found that as I watched, I simply couldn’t stop. But this also led to sleepless nights and overdue homework on my part. Let’s just say this show was created to be watched once a week and its episodes’ cliffhangers are intentional.

Additionally, each episode contains an incredible amount of information. While one episode may spread itself out into 6 different plots at once, another could be an entire battle for an hour straight. Truthfully, you never know what you’re gonna get.

This is the kind of show you have to give all of your attention to. At times I would find myself drifting off and begrudgingly go back the several minutes I missed. In the end, every time I did this, I discovered something that I really did miss that was crucial to the plot.

And with this information comes a lot of confusion. A friend of mine recommended that I watch the entire series the first time around with a map next to me. It was a funny joke, but I did really need one at times. There are hundreds of names and all of them have value, each house has a loaded history that they expect you to pick up on, and the fantasy world itself is lush with different kingdoms and lands. It’s impossible to remember it all—at least that’s how I felt while watching it. But I tried not to let this discourage me. Honestly, it was fun getting to know this new world. And, if you think about it, world building is essential to a good story, which is what I think this is at the end of the day.

Next, I feel I must mention the incredible cast of Game of Thrones. You’ve got your hotties like Kit Harrington, Jason Momoa, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Peter Dinklage (of course I could never forget Lena Headey, Gwendoline Christie, and Emilia Clark as well), who are more than just their pretty faces. You’ve got child actors who grew into brilliant stars like Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Bella Ramsey, and Jack Gleeson. And how could I forget the most loveable Pedro Pascal, Nathalie Emmanuel, Rose Leslie, Sibel Kekilli, and Alfie Allen. What I mean to say is that this cast is stacked. Truly I could write a whole article on each actor’s character and how they manage to bring them to life in an original way to each of them, but I’ll refrain in this one.

Moving on to the writing, I can’t talk about Game of Thrones without mentioning the controversies that surround the writers. As some may know, Game of Thrones is originally a book series that still isn’t complete. When the show first aired, there were only a couple of books to work off of, and they did a pretty accurate job (according to those who have read the books) of portraying the original story in a tv adapted version. Unfortunately, as soon as the show moved on past the books, that is when the writing began to suffer.

There is something dream-like and nostalgic about season 1 of Game of Thrones. The camera quality gives Westeros a real fantasy feel, and you can tell there’s something there that the main cast will never get back after that beginning. For that reason, I can’t help but love season 1 the best. That’s where it all began!

As the show progresses, you can really watch characters grow and use their experience as they do it. And, watching it back knowing how things unfold, there’s a newfound understanding to what is happening behind the scenes. There are events in the last seasons that directly happen because of small decisions made in season 1.

Everything is so intricately planned out and the cunning characters say more than just some witty words, their actions are cunning as well. There is a brilliance to the early seasons of Game of Thrones that I believe is undeniable.

As previously mentioned, as the show went on, you can feel it losing its footing. Once punching lines don’t hit the same way, jokes feel a little cheaper, and fan favorites start to feel out of character. I feel it’s important to note that this happens to almost every tv show that doesn’t know when or how to end. Games of Thrones seems to jump the shark at a very obvious moment, but I like to believe there were signs everywhere for the several seasons leading up to 8. It’s sad but true. All shows must end or live to it become a caricature of itself.

Of course, here and there, there are abandoned plotlines, plot holes, and inconsistencies, and I’d love to be this hateful critic, but I hardly care about issues such as these. Honestly, every story has some kind of fault, and I don’t believe that these negate all of the good stuff that far outweigh the bad.

Next, I feel it’s important to talk about the overarching themes of Game of Thrones. I mean, do you even like this kind of stuff? Game of Thrones is technically in the fantasy genre, but most people also include action, adventure, and drama.

Let’s set the record straight, magic and dragons do exist here, so how serious can we really take it? At the same time, there’s disturbing misogyny, brutal slavery, and devesting class disparity riddled throughout this story of dragons and magic. All of this to say, it’s not a silly show, although there are some silly themes.

This fantasy world is as serious as it gets, and there is a lot of pain and suffering that replicates the pain and suffering going on in our own world. While some find this important, others find it unnecessary. Personally, I think there’s a line between having a complex society and exploiting the worst of ours for shock value.

My main critique of Game of Thrones as a whole is not necessarily with Game of Thrones, but with all those who make the same decision as the writers/creators while world building. I ask why this world must be a patriarchal one—why it must be one with the enslavement of people of color. These are elements taken out of our real world that were put into a make-believe fantasy world.

I ask you, reader: if you could create a fantasy world where anything is possible, would you simply recreate the same social issues? I find it boring and overused. And I can’t help but question those writers, as a writer myself, about why they created a world where they are socially superior to others. So again, I ask you reader: if you could create a fantasy world where anything is possible, wouldn’t you want those who suffer here to not suffer there?

Along with this fantasy world, comes a whole lot of graphic violence, sexual content, and overall mature themes. This show is not for the faint of heart. One of the first scenes is of a character executing another with a three-foot sword. You see all of it.

Additionally, you witness a ridiculous amount of nudity in the first couple seasons, and it’s mostly of Emilia Clark which is distasteful on the part of the directors. You hardly ever see a man naked, and when you do, it’s never in a demeaning way like when the women are.

You will encounter numerous scenes where SA occurs and very little is left to the imagination. This is definitely difficult to watch, and I recommend those who may be triggered or offended to watch to find a list of triggers with timestamps. There are many websites and places that give accurate and appropriate summaries to help those who wish not to watch this kind of content with their Game of Thrones.

It’s important to mention that as the series progressed, this type of content decreased exponentially. This is largely due to fans’ criticism. As someone who loudly protests this kind of content in media, I personally believe that Game of Thrones as a whole provides more good than bad when it comes to this.

Overall, I think that the community of fans is what got me to watch Game of Thrones in the end. There is a connection that everyone has through the experience of watching such a crazy and tangled story. To be able to watch the infamous “red wedding” episode and be truly shocked surrounded by dedicated fans is something unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. This is because I’ve found that fans of the show love to watch newcomers watch it for the first time. To re-live that first watch is something lots of us would kill for.

I think it’s telling that even after season 8, where many fans threw things at their tv, called out of work in anguish, and cursed Game of Thrones forever, they still can’t help but come back to it. There’s even a sense of community within those who resent what the show has become (although I personally wouldn’t go that far). To quote the great Miranda Priestly, “Don’t be ridiculous Andrea. Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us.”

So, you’ve gotten this far and you pretty much know the answer already… I say it’s worth it.

Somehow along the way, I found myself invested in this crazy and ridiculous world of dragons, magic, and problematic lords and ladies. I’m just as surprised as you are. And you may surprise yourself too by watching it and enjoying it.

When I finally got around to finishing Game of Thrones I knew I didn’t regret it. As I’ve said, there’s an element of pop culture to this show and the community it homes. I’m happy to be able to be even a small part of this silly little community.

Over winter, I watched House of the Dragon and was glad that I did. Now, I’m all caught up and ready to be able to watch it live, something I wish I was old enough to do for Game of Thrones. As silly as it sounds, it feels a little bit like history in the making. And I miss waiting around all week for the next episode to come out because that’s half the fun of it in the first place.

I hope you enjoyed my silly (not so) little review and discussion about a classic show. I enjoyed watching it in the end and I hope I may have convinced some of you to do the same.

Brenna Parker

Scranton '25

Hey :) I'm Brenna and I'm a junior English major, communications minor. I'm honored to be the editor of our Scranton Chapter of HerCampus!