Game of Thrones is one of the most, if not the most, watched show on television to this date. It has a viewership of 25 million in the US alone, not factoring in fans in the UK, and worldwide. This intricately crafted, essentially cinematic experience thrives on the more taboo aspects of the human experience including murder, incest, and indulgent sexuality. However the artistic manner in which these themes are presented, and the skirts the edge of what is socially accepted, are the very thing that make this show the overwhelming success that it is.
As someone who follows this show closely, there are two scenes that come to mind, that exemplify the fringe artistic expression in this show. The first is widely dubbed as the Red Wedding. In this scene, Rob Stark, his wife, his mother, and his men visit the Fray’s to celebrate their new forged relationship. Unbeknownst to the Starks, the truce was a false pretense, and it was a trap set by the Fray’s to murder the entire family. Systematically, Rob Stark’s wife was stabbed in her pregnant stomach, Rob Stark was slain with arrows, all the while his mother Katelyn watched. She was saved for last, to make sure that she was privy to the destruction of everyone she held dear, before her throat was slit. The manner in which this whole horde was slaughtered was very obviously graphic and gruesome in nature, however when examined closer there was a sick sense on orchestra in the manner it was presented. The killings of all the men made up the background music while the Rob and his wife could be compared to any crescendos within the piece. Katelyn was the final note in this gruesome production. This underlying genius is one of the many nuances that made the show the masterpiece that it is.
The second example touches on the taboo sexuality that is abundant within this show. Daenerys Stormborn is of a dying Targaryen line and her brother sells her off to marry the “savage” King of the Dothraki, Khal Drogo. Saying that Daenerys was hesitant to enter this union would be a massive understatement. There was a healthy amount of fear and trepidation on her part. The highborn culture was very different from the more basal, almost animalistic lifestyle of the Dothraki. This is particularly displayed when the men have sex with the women. It is compared verbally by one of the women in the show to be “the way a hound takes a bitch”. This combined with the fact that Daenarys was barely willing, the scene had a rape-like aura to be perfectly honest. However, after a series of encounters similar to this, she decides that she will take matters into her own hands and dictate how this relationship will flourish. When the Khal enters her tent for the night, he begins to flip her over to begin the same routine they had been doing. For the first time, Daenerys protests, and insists that she be the one on top. He was resistant at first however upon looking into her eyes, one could observe the shift in his demeanor. The started making love, and this was no mediocre simple sex scene. The significant shift in their relations to one another, the sensuality of their movements, the intimate eye contact, the slight brush of their lips, was profound. There is simply no other word to use. As an audience member, I felt shifted while watching this encounter. Six seasons later, it is still a scene I remember and reflect upon. The sheer unadulterated beauty and artistry displayed in this three minute clip, the nuance that was woven into this scene in such a short amount of time is a testament to the remarkable power and capability of this show.
These two scenes are just a few of the many examples of the ability of GOT to make something life the taking of life, or the darker parts of sexuality, and truly make art of it. And do it so flawlessly, that it can transcend geographical, race, and gender lines to make something that so many enjoy.