I loved this show until…..the final season. I didn’t say wow. It was more like a big WTF!!!
With the benefit of a decade of retrospect, what “Game of Thrones” was able to accomplish in its eight seasons looks even more surprising.
The HBO fantasy drama series, which debuted April 17, 2011, was the beneficiary of good timing in at least two ways. For one thing, it had a lot of similarities to issues that plague the world today. It was also must see TV for adults. What’s more, its run straddled a period of splintering across the media landscape, with the dominance of media players like HBO threatened by streaming upstarts. Its old-school mass appeal was notable in its early going and beyond comparison by its end. At its start, “Thrones” gained clout thanks to its airing on HBO, the undisputed ruler of prestige TV. By the time it wrapped in 2019, “Thrones” sat at the top of the TV heap in a manner that looked a bit like the reign of Robert Baratheon, the king at the show’s outset. It held sway over a fractious and uncertain landscape, and its absence would give rise to a massive power struggle.
Indeed, what has happened in the time since “Thrones” left the air suggests that television executives learned little from the particulars of its success. TV platforms are still grasping for another smash of its scale. Disney Plus has pleased fans by extending the Star Wars and Marvel universes with series including “The Mandalorian,” “WandaVision,” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” all of which trade on familiar characters and styles.
It’s hard to imagine a “Thrones”-style success happening again — in part because if it occurred on a streamer, we’d never know. Part of the strange wonder of Benioff and Weiss’ series was the manner in which its zeitgeist buzz was matched with a quantifiable audience. To watch the show was to be a part of a movement.
“Game of Thrones” was mass entertainment that — in comparison to current streaming world-beaters — genuinely pushed its audience. By the end, elements of its story and how it was told pushed them away. But, at least to a viewer nostalgic for the distant world of a decade ago, that seems preferable to a story that easily and frictionlessly delivers exactly what viewers crave.
Where does it rank as far as TV best shows?