The HBO series based on the bestselling fantasy books by George RR Martin is set in a mythical realm named Westeros and has gripped viewers around the world with its unique medieval-ish style and melodramatic scenes. Its extremely adult spin on the fantasy genre has attracted a broad range of audiences, and has been referred to as ‘boy fiction’, though in my opinion Game of Thrones is the ideal show to binge watch.
The multi-character show explores a closed and violent hierachy in which the thrill of seeing brutality meted out has viewers hooked, whether it’s baby-stabbing, murder by molten gold, or simple rat torture. However, for many commentators the true strength of the series lies in the way each episode gives an insight into what it means to be excluded from power: to be a woman, or a bastard, or a‘half man’ (as in the case of the dwarf Tyrion Lannister, played by Peter Dinklage).
The very first series of Game of Thrones built up quickly to a dramatic climax and had viewers addicted from the cliff-hanger that saw ten-year-old boy being shoved from a tower window, while mythical White Walkers (zombie-type creatures) lurk menacingly in the background before being spectacularly re-introduced in the finale of series two.
Throughout the first series viewers were introduced to the different characters: the Northern Starks, led by the down-to-earth Ned Stark (Sean Bean) and his dignified wife Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), and their children, including Ned’s ‘bastard’ son Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Then there are the Lannisters, a crowd of blonde beauties and one dwarf who form a family so twisted, charismatic, incestuous and cruel that many of their scenes are almost unbearable to view. Across the sea, we meet the Dothraki, a strange and mythical race of horseman warriors, whose violent ruler Drogo (Jason Momoa) takes for his wife the beautiful and kind-hearted Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), a young girl traded by her brother for an army to help him steal the Iron Throne. By the finale of the first series we saw Daenerys standing in the desert, widowed and traumatised but with three baby dragons rested on her.
Viewers are bound to become emotionally attached to the characters, feeling hatred and anger towards the evil young prince Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and inspired by the strong Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), who in the penultimate episode has to see her own father, Ned Stark, beheaded on a public stage for treason.