Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance, but despite posting ’90s era broadcast numbers, not everyone was shaken by it. Small corners of the world were not won over by the conniving nature of the event, nor were they captivated by its heartbreaking twists and turns. Some may have seen the event, but they just weren’t that into it, finding relevance in other, less grisly, depressing and mean-spirited events. Others may have been turned off by one too many crass depictions of sex, and left it in the past. Still more maybe just didn’t get around to the event in time for it to hook them for years to come.
Of course, that event had a name and, more importantly, a following. “Game of Thrones” debuted on April 17, 2011, and it’s been a massive part of our collective culture ever since. The Emmy-winning series has dominated conversation like few other shows of its time, generating more analysis than even its biggest fans can consume. And that spillover can be irksome. Be it the flood of marketing surrounding the series, strained tie-ins that bring “Game of Thrones” to new markets, tweets and posts clogging various social media feeds in disproportionate quantity to shows of equal or greater merit, “Game of Thrones” affects all our lives.
So, stemming from a wholesome place of good intentions, below is a guide to surviving the coming months if you’re one of the few who couldn’t care less if Jon Snow is dead or not. Now, before we dig in, let me point out this is not a resource to be used cruelly. All of the below advice comes from a place of respect for those who lose their freaking minds every time someone dies on “Game of Thrones.” (But really, how are you still surprised when someone dies? People are always dying! And they’re all terrible people anyway, so who cares? Okay, okay. Sorry. I’m done.) We may be labeled “Game of Thrones” haters, but never shall we be labeled haters of people or their passions. Now, my brothers and sisters, let’s begin.
What To Say In Conversation
Option A: Say you’re at a party. Odds are high this will happen because, remember, “Game of Thrones” lasts for 10 weeks. That’s two-and-a-half months. More if you count the buildup to the season and the fallout when it ends. We could be facing three-plus months. You’ll go to a party in the next three months, right? Of course you will, because you’re not sitting at home watching “Game of Thrones,” reading “Game of Thrones” or watching and reading about “Game of Thrones.” But when you get there, odds are someone is going to talk to you about “Game of Thrones” because, remember, during the season, nothing else exists for these fans. I find it’s important to be direct and forthright when a situation like this presents itself:
“Oh, man. Did you see ‘Game of Thrones’ last week?”
“No, I did not.”
If you can, keep it at that. As you’re probably already aware, hearing, “You don’t watch ‘Game of Thrones’?!” is not only annoying, but a quick way to become exiled from most social groups. There might be a cute guy or girl at the party who loves “Game of Thrones,” and while you obviously don’t, this difference of opinion isn’t a dealbreaker for you — but it could be for them. Plus, we don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, and the direct follow-up to the aforementioned dreaded question is, “Why?” You don’t want to say why. Unless it’s, “I’ve been in a coma for the last six years, just woke up and immediately started speaking with you,” no reason will be good enough. So keeping a lid on your opinion is important. Hopefully, the above example works. If not…
Option B: Okay, you’re on the brink of being outed as a non-fan. It’s time to make your choice: tell the truth, or…don’t. If you choose the former, I can’t help you. We all know what happens then, but if you dare to dream (the nice way of saying “choose to lie”), then you’ve got options. First, you can just agree with whatever they say.
“Wasn’t it great?”
“And that scene with the direwolf…”
“Oh, yeah. That was great.”
This could continue until a new topic of conversation comes up. (Sometimes you just have to get the “Game of Thrones” talk out of the way first, like a password that grants you entrance to the Friendship Club.) But you run the risk of being asked specifics, which obviously you don’t know. If you sense this could happen — warning signs include more detailed wordplay or a seemingly inexhaustible number of opinions stemming from your “friend’s” mouth — then you might have to take more drastic measures…
Last Resort: Spoil it! Okay, you won’t actually spoil anything, but the threat of spoiling “Game of Thrones” is a guaranteed way to get out of a “Game of Thrones” conversation.
“Oh, man. Did you see ‘Game of Thrones’ last week?”
“Actually, I’ve seen next week’s episode already.”
This is where you have to customize your lie a little bit. Die hard Throners likely know HBO isn’t giving out advanced screeners for Season 6, but that’s hardly the only way to know what’s coming. You can cite the books if you want to go deep into theorizing. This would’ve been a better plan a few years back, before the series caught up to what Martin’s written. Now, you’d have to do a considerable amount of research to come up with legitimate “spoilers”; so much research, you’d probably end up having an even longer conversation than before we started planning to get you out of it. Instead, I’d cite having a friend in the TV business — HBO is a big company, guys, with an even bigger parent company — and you could even make an argument that some critics did get advanced copies and you know one. Point is, there are ways to make yourself out to be a frightening source of knowledge. Pick what’s most believable for you, and tell “GoT” to “GTFO.”
What To Do During an Episode:
Sometimes you just have to watch an episode of “Game of Thrones.” There’s no getting around it. Maybe your roommate is a fan, and you’ve got nowhere to hide on Sunday night. Maybe all your friends are getting together every week, and you don’t want to be left out. Maybe your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, sister, brother or other prominent person in your life loves it so much you have to watch with them, teeth gritted, eyes rolling. No matter the reason, it happens. So what do you do, other than bite your tongue ’til it bleeds rather than release an audible, “Oh, come on!” every time another nameless naked lady walks through a scene? Don’t worry. We’ve got ideas.
Option A: Don’t watch it. Watch “Veep.” “Veep” is great, and you can just plug some earbuds into your phone, pull up HBO NOW and enjoy Queen J-Lou without disturbing anyone occupied by medieval backstabbing, literal or figurative. Technically, you can do this with any show, but new episodes of “Veep” air right after “Game of Thrones.” Maybe you can get your friends to watch that with you instead. It would make for a nice compromise, and they’ll thank you for it later.
Option B: Drink heavily. Define “heavily” as it pertains to your own personal tolerance level, remembering it’s a Sunday night and you probably have to work in the morning. Still, a little headache from your favorite whiskey is better than an emotional heartache caused by becoming invested in the wrong character. He/she/it is going to die! Don’t get invested!
Last Resort: Admire the many undeniably good things about “Game of Thrones.” I know, I know. It sounds nuts. But the special effects work has gotten a lot better over the years. A lot of the acting is pretty solid. And my oh my, that set design. Exquisite. If you take a stab at engaging with the show from a critical viewpoint, it actually goes down a lot easier than trying to actually, you know, enjoy it. No matter how bad it gets, there’s always something to discuss on “Game of Thrones” — which, coincidentally, is how we got into this mess to begin with. Embrace the madness. Just don’t play the game.
What To Do After Episodes
Option A: Wait. If you had to watch the episode — in whatever way you chose from the options above — do not react until you gauge the literal or virtual room. Let the people who care the most about the show steer the conversation, and then react accordingly. It’s best not to cross fans at peak fandom, and it’s certainly not a good idea to introduce any level of criticism at a very emotional juncture. Read a book, have a snack (especially if you chose to drink heavily during the show), or get ready for bed/get things ready for work tomorrow.
Waiting is also key before going online, as it takes a good hour or so for the clammer to turn into intelligible thought. Similarly, it also takes some time for the Internet to reach a critical consensus, which will give you a proper framework for your own reaction, depending on your chosen level of snark. Wield the power of professional reviews to your advantage, especially if you find yourself in the above party scenario and need to explain why you’re not a fan. Identify which critics are self-professed fanboys (ignore them) and who actually will put objective thought into each episode. Those are the ones you can check to see if anything deplorable happened this week, which you can later site as evidence in your ongoing case against “Game of Thrones.”
Gosh, not watching “Game of Thrones” sure is getting exhausting isn’t it?
Option B: Go shopping! No, not at the mall, you dummy. It’s 10pm on a Sunday, and who goes to a mall anymore anyway? Hit the interwebs and search for some peace offerings for friends and family you’ve offended by hating on their favorite show. (Though remember, we told you not to!) One plus of the “Game of Thrones” phenomenon is it makes gifting easy. Moreover, there’s some gifts you can get that double as a gift for yourself, even if they seem to be for “Thrones” fans only. Some examples:
For the live-in “Thrones” fan, grab some coasters with the faces of his or her favorite characters, or other aptly-themed drink holders. Not only are they clearly not for all-the-time use (coasters should be classy), but when they are out, you can take satisfaction in covering them up with a drink.
For the friends who make you watch with them, pick up some “Game of Thrones” branded beer. Ommegang Brewery has six varieties of themed beers, and they’re actually pretty good! The best part, though, is two-fold: You can drink the beer, for one, but after it’s gone, you throw the bottle away! The perfect “Game of Thrones” gift is the one that doesn’t stick around.
For anyone you watch with, subscribe them to HBO NOW. Sure, it’s loosely connected to “Game of Thrones,” but it’s a pretty necessary component for them to watch…and for you to sneakily watch something else at the same time. Win win.
Last Resort: Okay, you got lucky this week, and the party was called off. Your hubby’s out of town or your roommate had to work the late shift. Point is, you can spend your Sunday night the right way: watching Sunday Night Baseball until “Veep” starts. Or whatever! The only drawback is you’re still going to have to deal with “Game of Thrones.” Social media will be blanketed with posts the second it ends (if not sooner), and your favorite websites for reading while Jake Arrietta’s throwing yet another no-hitter are awash with coverage. If you’re not interested in learning the gist of what happened and just want “Game of Thrones” to go away, how can you safely go about your Sunday night? Other than staying off the Internet — which is such a laughably foolish option, I had a hard time writing those words — there aren’t a lot of options…are there?
Well, for once, Facebook has your back. You can actually block words — like “Game of Thrones” or “Jon Snow” — from coming up in your feed, an act made all the more delightful because if you block a word, Facebook recognizes posts containing that word as “spam.” “Game of Thrones” = spam! Perfect. Way to go, Facebook. There are also numerous content filters available for the Chrome web browser which serve the same purpose. So if you really just don’t want to see that stuff, you don’t have to.