Game of Thrones has become a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Based on the unfinished books by George RR Martin, season seven of the TV version, on HBO, has been the most successful yet.
With 16.1 million viewers tuned into the premiere earlier this summer, the show saw a 50% increase from last year’s—a growth almost unheard of in in television ratings. The show is dense, with source material that spells out deep mythologies and histories of a violent and tumultuous land. If I even tried to describe the story here you would either tune out, or be confused. I also don’t want to give anything away for the binge-watchers out there waiting for the season to end so they can watch it all in one take. A lot has been written about this show’s popularity and how it has managed to entangle a large segment of the population. I honestly haven’t thought about it much, I’ve just gone along for the ride. However, it would be easy to guess that the superb writing, acting, cinematography and storytelling play a large part in that popularity. Even more, in this age of our own tumultuous political landscape, where we strive for heroes who can point the way for our people and society, watching those things play out every Sunday for an hour in a familiar yet distant land, provide us an escape. We see the empowerment of Daenerys Targaryen, the breaker of chains, who set a country of slaves free and yearns to be a benevolent leader of all. Or Jon Snow, the kid from nothing, a nobody, who rose to be a king through kindness and a moral steadfastness. And then there’s Cersei Lannister, the queen who rules by fear and hate. She incites fear of the others to defend her shaky kingdom. At least in this fantasy, we know the heroes will probably win.