- 24 Jul 17
With Games Of Thrones’ seventh season having just debuted to massive viewing figures and rapturous critical acclaim, uber-fan Paul Nolan drags himself away from the sofa long enough to salute the series’ unique mix of political intrigue, radical characterisation and atmospheric storytelling – whilst not forgetting the steamy sex and ultra-violence, of course.
If you were to pitch a concept for one of the biggest TV phenomenons of the 21st century, an X-rated Lord Of The Rings may not immediately spring to mind. Such was the buzz surrounding HBO’s fantasy series Game Of Thrones when it premiered back in 2011. In the time since, the adaptation of George RR Martin’s cult series of novels by David Benioff and DB Weiss – the latter a former Trinity College student who did his thesis on Joyce – has become a cultural sensation, with an intensely devoted global fanbase.
The teasers for the recently commenced seventh season had racked up over 50 million YouTube hits within a short time of their arrival, with possible plot points and thematic hints subjected to the sort of analysis normally reserved for US Presidential elections. There are myriad reasons for Games Of Thrones’ success, but this most zeitgeisty of shows has at its core some endearingly old-fashioned values; the battle for control of Westeros is played out by complex, Shakespearean characters, wrestling with powerful emotional conflicts in dynamic storylines.
Of course, Martin – and by extension Benioff, Weiss and the other writers – are not averse to taking a more direct route to goal, and Game Of Thrones happily embraces some base narrative pleasures. The quotient of sex and violence is never less than generous, with the show an endless source of fascination with media commentators everywhere from the Sun to the Guardian – if often for contrasting reasons.