Colin McEnroe Show: Fantasy, Reality And 'A Game Of Thrones'

What can George R.R. Martin's bestselling series tell us about society?

Jon Snow
Photo:Courtesy: HBO
Colin McEnroe Show: Fantasy, Reality And 'A Game Of Thrones'
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Colin McEnroe Show: Fantasy, Reality And 'A Game Of Thrones'

Why are we talking today about "Game of Thrones," an HBO series that begins its second season Sunday night?

The numbers alone are impressive. Three million people watched the final episode of the first season, which is a lot for a fantasy show on a cable premium channel. When you add in all the other ways to watch, it's more like 8 million sets of eyeballs per episode. The books by George R.R. Martin have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.

But it's more than that. Popular culture works when it taps into real anxieties about social change and unfolding history. "Game of Thrones" -- although it was first conceived and written in the mid-1990s -- may owe some of its popularity to the way its characters live under the Damoclean threat of climate change. Add in provocative questions about sex roles and a sub-group that recalls ancient stereotypes about Arabs and ... well, we are being spoken to on many levels.

Do you watch "Game of Thrones"? Have you read the books? Are you a fan of fantasy or do you steer clear of it?

Leave your comments below, e-mail or Tweet us @wnprcolin.



Game of Groans

Ughh...I usually have a knee jerk reaction to fantasy. I read the Hobbit in middle school, enjoyed the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films but that's as far as it goes. I saw the HBO promos in advance of the Game of Thrones debut and was completely bewildered by the reasoning behind the stellar network's choice in programming. "You're telling me this is what is replacing The Sopranos" I say rolling my eyes. But not fifteen minutes in to the episode had George R. R. Martin, executive producers David and Dan, and the entire cast and crew made a believer out of me. I was completely transfixed by the scenic beauty of the locations, costumes and production design but ultimately won over by the fantastic characters. Tyrion blows Bilbo out of the water. Jon Snow far more complex than Harry and there was hardly a bit of fantasy involved. The heir apparent had come in full force. Ten episodes later I consumed book after book in the Song of Ice and Fire series and now I'm on my second re-read before the second season airs this Sunday.

I don't feel like I can get the same depth and quality of writing out of other fantasy series a la Wheel of Time or His Dark Materials. Game of Thrones (ASoIaF) that challenges my view of humanity, power, loyalty, and love. It's a series that keeps you guessing without feeling manipulated (most of the time). The narrative choices feel earned. I connect to it because I can get inside the characters heads and see them evolve. I can't say with certainty that Ice and Fire is the best fantasy series or the best literary series because there are still two books to go and who knows what will happen in the mean time, but I'm committed to the long years in between books and the shorter time in between seasons putting my faith in the filmmakers and in the author against my better judgement. If the series teaches me anything it's not to trust anyone but I am human much like the characters in the series.


Were more clearly Mongols in the books, I thought. Nothing Arabic about them.