Sunday, June 08, 2014

[TV] No Win Game of Thrones

I have always struggled with what Game of Thrones is about. Dramatically speaking, I mean.  It’s obviously beautiful and powerful storytelling, but I had difficulty seeing a larger theme; a point beyond the events themselves.  Examples:  The Sopranos is about delusion.  The Wire is about the corrupting of life by institutions.  But what is Game of Thrones?  It constantly teeters on the brink of misery porn.  One horror after another.  Injustice upon injustice.  Good and Happy are two things that do not exist.  The traditional dramatic end of comeuppance is never in play.

And then I saw Peter Dinklage's soliloquy about beetles and I realized that’s what Game of Thrones is about.  It is about what life would be in a completely amoral world; a world where there are only two drives, survival and power. God (in the form of George R.R. Martin) has created an existence in which humans are the beetles to be smashed.  That is the function of human history in and of itself.  Tyrion obsessively tries to determine the meaning of the endless mountains of dead beetle husks (human history) but fails because there is none.  God is the moron without reason.  There is no purpose.

That makes G of T probably the darkest, most dire TV show in history. It is also quite troublesome from a dramatic point of view because unless there is a change, I don't see how it develops an endgame -- a conclusion, or at least a clear arc for the characters.  Is the only arc “So-and-so tries to find meaning but there is none so he fails and suffers and dies like everyone else”?  If so, it will continue to be horrible event after horrible event, with no justice or substantive change in sight.  Deadwood took savagery to civilization in three seasons and was a classic. So the question is no longer “What is Game of Thrones about?” but “Where is it going?”  “Nowhere, it’s neverending anguish without meaning” is not really a good answer.