Sophie Turner and Kit Harrington. Image courtesy of HBO.
via Sansa Stark’s Inconsistencies Reveal Game Of Thrones’ Women Problem
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I sometimes like to quote Game of Thrones headlines and guess what the article’s about before I’ve read it. There was a little jealousy on my part that I wasn’t writing about the show weekly, because I think I could have done a good job, and I also hadn’t sold a pitch in nearly a year. It’s difficult to know what editors will like, and when you have trouble selling pitches, self-doubt creeps in.
This essay is really important to me because I’ve been thinking about the male-heavy production team since season four or five. I didn’t start watching Game of Thrones until after the third season had aired. I’d seen the pilot previously, but the amount of nudity put me off. When I did a blogging experiment to watch the first season (on my old blog, I’m not even sure if that still exists), I discovered that I loved it. I watched the first three seasons by Christmas of 2013 while I was listening to the audiobook for A Game of Thrones, and finished reading ASOIAF (just the published ones) by the time season four started. Over this time, I became invested in Sansa’s story, as an entitled teenage girl became a survivor.
Season four was when I was able to get into the discussion around Game of Thrones, which happened to have that scene with Jaime and Cersei in the crypt. I started to pay more attention to diversity in production, and how it can affect what happens onscreen. Then season five happened, and the possibility of Sansa going to Winterfell instead of Jeyne Poole was exciting until it went to the place everyone expected. This is a show I love dearly, and I don’t think loving a show means you can’t criticise it.
I spent a week working on this piece while I was also working full time and volunteering at the Melbourne Writers Festival (which has been great, hopefully I’ll write about it during the week). I didn’t really think about anything other than Game of Thrones for that week and I just worked on one piece. The people who cover the show weekly, whether through writing and/or podcasts put a lot of effort into what they do, and now I’m not sure whether this is something I’d want to cover on a weekly basis. It puts things in perspective. I’m glad to have written something about the show, and also a little glad it’s over for another season.
One of my favourite Game of Thrones podcasts is A Storm of Spoilers. It was originally for book readers and people who didn’t mind being spoiled, but now that most of the show’s storylines have surpassed the books, it includes production spoilers, which some people don’t like. One of my favourite parts of the podcast is the wild speculation and crackpot theories which are bandied about, and this week I came up with one of my own. I like to call it #BlackThorn.
The adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is a strange beast. The first season of Game of Thrones aired just before A Dance With Dragons was published, and fans of the books have seen another four seasons of the show before The Winds of Winter‘s publication. The fifth season of Game of Thrones ended at the same point as A Dance With Dragons, as Jon Snow is betrayed by his men in the Night’s Watch, as they believe he has broken his vows by saving the Wildlings, and arguably taking Stannis’ side in the war. All throughout the fifth season of Game of Thrones, Entertainment Weekly published a series of interviews and features with the cast and crew of the show. Following the finale, Kit Harrington ‘confirmed’ that Jon is dead. Book and show spoilers/speculation will be around.
Recency bias is a problem in television; people tend to judge seasons and series of television shows by their finale, which is a problem. This is overcome by episodic reviews, which are in themselves limited, particularly in serialised dramas such as Game of Thrones. The way television seasons are structured, there’s a climax towards the end of the season, and possibly some fallout. This has been the case with Game of Thrones, which followed The Wire’s footsteps in putting the Big Event in the penultimate episode of the season, and the aftermath of those events are the subject of the season finale. In the fifth season of the show however, there’s so much action that it was more or less spread across the last three episodes of the season. This was true of season four as well, but “The Watchers on the Wall” was a lacklustre episode that suffered from not having Stannis ride in to defeat the wildlings, which was saved for the season finale. This review is going to have spoilers from the first five episodes of the show and also some book details, so proceed with caution.