Game of Thrones’ impact on TV will be felt long after finale, say experts

Source: The Guardian

It brought us dragons, a red wedding, nudity and sudden death. The finalseason begins on Monday, but Game of Thrones and its memorable scenes will have a lasting impact on the broader TV landscape, according to industry experts and fans.

“The casualness of Ned Stark’s death was one of the most pivotal moments of TV drama … killing off the main character – not even in the final episode, but in episode nine of the first season – caught everyone by surprise,” said Jamie East, the presenter of the Game of Thrones podcast Previously On.

“It made watching the rest of the series after that a joy because, even now, you still don’t know who will win or die and when.”

Lisa Woolfork, an associate professor at the English department in the University of Virginia, said the complexity of the characters was unique and has paved the way for future shows.

“The massive character roster is beyond what any other television programme has done before. Soap operas and other serials have had many characters, but never of the sheer amount and depth of Game of Thrones. The result is there are characters and plot lines that appeal to many viewers – power, intimacy, family, nationhood, politics, conquest, intrigue – all framed by a strategic and ruthless form of normalised violence.”

Raluca Radulescu, a professor of medieval literature at Bangor University, said the show in particular had shaped how female characters were viewed. “These are women who may have had incest with their brother but you may admire them for their calm and impression of stability, bloody-mindedness in the face of adversity, single-mindedness in political games,” she said.

The success of the show also demonstrated that viewing behaviour exceeded the boundaries of sitting and watching a show on screen, Woolfork said. “The attachments that some viewers have developed for the show have transformed Game of Thrones from a book and television series into a larger popular cultural phenomenon that includes YouTube parodies, music videos, toys, jewellery, craft beverages, games and more.”

The show also solidified the idea of “event TV”, according to East. “To avoid spoilers, people watch it together at the same time … It brings people together to experience it, especially for the last season,” he said.

One fan of the show, Jack Mallinson, said Game of Thrones fans could not use social media if they had not seen the latest episode. “The problem for UK viewers is that it airs in the UK at 2am Monday morning, and then again ‘properly’ at 9pm that evening. You simply can’t make it through the day without seeing a spoiler in some capacity. So, to be prepared, people jump through hoops to make sure that they enjoy the show in as pure a way as possible.

“Whether that means staying up until 2am to watch it, getting up for work an hour early with a powerful coffee, or going through the unimaginable of signing out of Facebook or Twitter for the day, people are willing to make the sacrifice.”

Game of Thrones has already influenced shows such as Vikings and Last Kingdom, according to East. Amazon has also reportedly spent $250m (£190m) to secure the rights to an ongoing Lord of the Rings TV show in an attempt to rival Game of Thrones.

But what is next in terms of UK productions? “Certainly in the UK there is nothing on the horizon like it. There is not anything waiting in the wings really to take over, which is exciting because it means we have not met our next Jon Snow yet. But it’s also terrifying as when it goes it leaves a massive gap.”

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