Game of Thrones has returned.
Did I not type that loud enough?
GAME OF THRONES HAS RETURNED.
Big deal, this is, for anyone that appreciates good storytelling (and murder and sex and zombies and dragons). We live in a world full of TV shows that hook you like smack and then totally collapse in on themselves two-thirds into a season. This leads to the betraying realization that the writers of the show created a remarkable point A without really ever thinking of point B. Homeland is exhibit A, and for all the borderline stalkerish feelings I have for True Detective, it provides a pretty good Exhibit B.
But not Game of Thrones. Why? Because it already has a critically acclaimed story written out in old school book form. We can watch secure in the knowledge that kidnapped Theon Greyjoy will not suddenly grow his dick back and return to King’s Landing without anyone questioning the nature of his escape (looking at you, Homeland season one).
Thank you, Game of Thrones.
This weeks ‘Define and Defy’ is all about the cultural and behavioral implications of this interplay between television and literature.
Defines Logic: Television igniting more interest in literature
Maybe I’m just aging up and surrounded by more readers as opposed to those who just watch, but more and more often, discussions about television shows are turning towards who’s writing them and what they may or may not be adapted from or inspired by.
This goes beyond Game of Thrones, a book series almost as ingrained in popular culture as the show itself. One could say it started with The Wire, and the flurry of interest the show ignited in writer David Simon’s nonfiction opus Homicide. Recent lit thrust into the spotlight by TV also includes Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black, and True Detective writer Nic Pizzolatto’s first novel, Galveston.
This may be the most inspiring, positive side effect of my generation’s gluttonous desire for content. Millennials are used to seeking out additional layers of a story, not just tuning in on Sunday night and tuning out. And it means more people are reading, which is all bueno…
Defies Logic: Reading the book and watching the show at the same time
…all bueno, that is, unless you never move beyond the gateway story that brought you into the magical world of literature. I have friends that not only both watch and read Game of Thrones, but only read Game of Thrones (which makes physical sense given the nearly 5,000 pages that exist across the five books in print thus far – they take fucking forever to get through).
Don’t do that. That is totally illogical.
There are only so many waking hours in the world, and there are way more incredible books than those waking hours permit an individual to read. Why in god’s name would you wade through 5,000 pages to get a more detailed version of a story that can already be watched in a wildly critically acclaimed format in under 50 hours? YOU’RE PUTTING ALL YOUR DRAGON EGGS IN ONE BASKET.
Look. For all I know the books may be better than the show. Fine. But the show is pretty fucking great. And if you’re reading Game of Thrones book three and you haven’t read, say, Infinite Jest or Hemingway’s best stories or a single poem of Oscar Wilde’s, you are speeding towards death with an ignorant mind.
Spend your time wisely. Watch the show, read all the other amazing books out there, and make yourself a more well-read and well-rounded person before you die.