Imagination Connoisseur, Jordy Lyons, compares the venerable HBO juggernaut, GAME OF THRONES, with the movie channels latest hit series: WATCHMEN.
Dear Rob and PGS.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a GAME OF THRONES fan. In spite of a disappointing season finale, until recently, I would have argued that GAME OF THRONES was the best show of the last decade.
For starters, the female characters in WATCHMEN were refreshing contrats to the “damsel in distress” or “sidekick” roles historically played by females on screen. While GAME OF THRONES had its share of strong female characters, most of them suffered confusing character shifts by the end of the series.
Assasin Arya Stark who has literally faced and conquered death ran for the hills when the castle starts to crumble.
Brienne of Tarth ditched her armor, lost her virginity, and ended up sobbing in a nightgown. Cersei, the feared leader of King’s Landing, passively allowed a dragon to destroy her city without so much of a fight. Most disturbingly, Daenerys, the beloved Mother of Dragons, completely lost her mind seemingly overnight and became a psychotic super villain.
In addition to featuring strong women, Watchmen was packed with diverse, dynamic characters while GAME OF THRONES was more often than not overwhelmingly and inexplicably white. Although the Marvel comics featured characters of different races, its first 17 movies featured white men.
The only prominent black characters in GAME OF THRONES were Missandei and Grey Worm two ex-slaves who practically worshiped at the altar of their white savior Daenerys Targaryen.
While the showrunners of GAME OF THRONES recreated a world full of dragons, White Walker zombies, and fire magic, a world teeming with diverse characters was apparently out of the question.
On the other hand, WATCHMEN’s thoughtful inclusion of non-white characters was an inspiring depiction of on-screen inclusion and diversity. Black actresses seldom have the opportunity to play leading roles in action packed fantasy and sci-fi dramas.
Not only was the WATCHMEN cast more representative of an increasingly diverse America, but several of the episodes were also co-written by black writers. In addition to a featuring a diverse cast, WATCHMEN tackled important, timely issues like race, privilege, and social justice, and wrestled with the complexities of morality.
The WATCHMEN showrunners successfully found a way to inspire reflective contemplation without strangling the story with a political agenda or compromising the entertainment value of the show. Unlike WATCHMEN, GAME OF THRONES failed to comment on any real pressing social issues. While the ongoing action and shock factor kept audiences actively engaged, GAME OF THRONES did not cause viewers to ask any deep life questions or contemplate any pressing social issues.
Even the show’s attempted political and power-related themes were drowned out in a sea of extravaganza and spectacle. Every now and then, it can be nice to escape the pressing realities of the real world.
However, stories that can both entertain and challenge audiences to examine their ideas and beliefs are not only advantageous but necessary, for human evolution. From the Bible to Greek Mythology, stories inform us about the world around us and shape how we relate to one another. WATCHMEN had the ability to inspire greater compassion and understanding of people for years to come, while shows like GAME OF THRONES will likely only be remembered purely for their entertainment value. In all fairness, with eight full seasons under its belt, GAME OF THRONES has a much more extensive content library to critique than WATCHMEN.
By choosing to remain politically neutral and refraining from commenting on anything too bold or controversial, GAME OF THRONES was able to capture a broad array of loyal fanatics. It’s entirely possible that if WATCHMEN were to continue, the magic that so eloquently weaved together the fabric of the first season might fade.
Nonetheless, in just one season, WATCHMEN set a new, more inclusive standard for all sci-fi and fantasy programming. I hope other programs continue to follow in WATCHMEN’s footsteps by telling stories that force us all to think more critically about ourselves and the world we live in.