Okay, so I may have lied a little. I do have something to say, and it’s been on my mind for the last few weeks and I’ve been a little reluctant to air my opinion on this sausage of theory.
Caution ye who enter here, for here be spoilers, and all manner of creatures.
Yes, it’s another damned Game of Thrones post.
The creation of drama in Game of Thrones, at the very least the TV show, is down to a number of things. First of all, let’s get this straight – I’m talking about the TV show here, and not the books. Since I’ve not read them, I cannot comment. I DO plan on reading them, so quit with the harassment; I resolved to start reading as soon as I can after the end of season III. I couldn’t before because I’ve had other books to read.
When Odin’s Wolves has been finished, I’ll pick up a copy when I’m done with that.
Game of Thrones’ popularity stems from its ability to appeal to our baser appetites, as well as our intellect, with writing that is equal parts sensationalism and sophistication.
The characters deaths. It has to be brought up so I’ll address it now. When they die, it’s often unexpected and undignified. A character suddenly gets stabbed in the back, or brutally murdered in a rapid manner in which there are little warnings to the viewer. Just look at the Red Wedding for a clear cut example.
I love how a character dies because it makes sense for them to die. Or no sense, of course. The fact that they’re brutal and quick spares us from the boring facade that characters who are favoured by audiences are given pleasant and heroic deaths.
I don’t see why Death, in all his lovely-jubbly anthropomorphic personification and small caps dialogue, would give, say, Robb Stark, a cuddly death at the head of a bridge whilst sacrificing himself to die at a horde’s grabby grabby in order to save thousands more. Or indeed, why should Drogo die in bed – okay – of old age?
Why should these characters get preferential deaths as opposed to the villains – and I use that term quite loosely, since the lines get blurrier and blurrier between protagonist and antagonist – whom most would cheer when they get their throats chewed upon by dire rabbits or fall upon a battlement stake?
The brutality involved in Game of Thrones reflects on the nonjudgmental mannerisms of death in reality. It’s not as if it has a preference. Steel will almost always pierce your heart just easily as the fellow sitting next to you and the only thing stopping it is mathematics.
It’s still violence and that’s always going to appeal to our tiny little sociopathic ids whenever we watch, but I don’t think it’s just the violence and sex in the show that makes it popular. If it were, then it’d just be another piece of crap like those pointless vampire shows like True Blood.
Game of Thrones possesses some of the best characters in modern television and I could go on about how characters and the actors who portray them make the show, but some you will love and others you will hate. This is down to the quality of the characters. You love to hate Joffrey. I want to punch in his smug prick face, but I couldn’t do that to the actor.
What I really want to talk about are the plots when they are combined with the characters that you love and hate. Every character has a goal, a desire, a fear. They all want something to happen, and many of them plot to get what they want. This is where drama comes from: conflict.
One character wants something for some reason, and another character wants something for some reason too, but their goals conflict. When you have a focus on these characters, you decide who is the antagonist and who is the protagonist. Whilst these two characters make these schemes, you have a number of characters around them who are directly affected. These schemes turn out to affect dozens and sometimes hundreds more people, and this can, in turn, create more characters.
Everyone is affected, directly or indirectly, by the decisions of another character. These plans unfold to success or failure, and this creates dramatic fallout as a result. The consequences spark suspense and intrigue so there is always a constant tension of what might happen. The possibilities of what might happen create knots in the stomach of viewers; what the audience wants to happen and what might happen play themselves out in a Schrodinger’s Cat of unfolding story!
Yet as one thread of a storyline is concluded, another springs from its end and begins anew. Characters who get the backlash of events that happen elsewhere are tiny little microcosms of stories that have the potential to create new possibilities for other characters. Look at Arya as she came to the site of the wedding. She was so close to being reunited with her mother and an elder brother. What could this possibly have changed? There’s the strategy involved concerning the war – Brienne of Tarth was sent to King’s Landing to exchange the Kingslayer for the two Stark girls, yet Arya had already escaped. How would the mother react, seeing this event? How would Brienne act, when she realises that Arya is not in King’s Landing? Who knows, since Arya witnessed the outcome of the Red Wedding?
For the last few episodes she travelled with The Hound, a man she swore to kill. The dialogue and interaction between them is amazing, but my mind can only think of where they are to be in the next season.
I’ll read the books.
With so many characters with so much potential to decide other’s fates and decisions, then what’s going on concerning major events in the world can be affected.
Now that this has come to my mind, all I have to do now is integrate it into my own stories. I need to make three dimensional characters (simple enough) whom people like (ummm. Feedback, please!), and put them in situations with each other in which I cannot guarantee either’s safety…
…and hopefully I will gain a similar reputation to that dastardly GRR Martin.