Thursday,21 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1354, (27 July - 2 August 2017)
Thursday,21 February, 2019
Issue 1354, (27 July - 2 August 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Mania for Game of Thrones

A new season of the US drama Game of Thrones has had viewers hooked across Egypt, writes Salonaz Sami

Game of Thrones

Millions of people around the world were on the edge of their seats last week waiting for the long-anticipated debut of season seven of the US drama Game of Thrones, aka GOT, which aired on 16 July.

The phenomenal drama scored an astonishing 10.1 million views for the first episode of series seven, entitled “Dragonstone”, thus breaking its personal best of 8.9 million views of the last episode of season six which averaged 23.3 million views per episode across all platforms.

The two-times Emmy Award Best Drama-winning show based on the series of books by US author George R R Martin is now officially the most-watched show in the US network HBO’s history.  

In Egypt, GOT has dominated conversations on and offline for weeks before airing time. “The fact that the epic drama is now a significant part of the Egyptian popular culture landscape is undeniable,” said Radwa Mustafa, a Cairo housewife.  

Days before the debut, loyal fans across Egypt were excitedly arranging how and where they were going to watch the episode. In the coastal city of Dahab, GOT addicts rented a projector and sound system to watch it together by the sea. Across the globe fans have agreed that once you start watching the series it is almost impossible to stop. Why can’t they get enough of it?

The epic drama is known for the wide scope of its fantasy, its thrilling action sequences, and the shock value of its surprising plot twists. As for the plot, or rather plots, of GOT, Martin has successfully managed to create a whole new world of humans and legendary creatures like dragons, direwolves and white walkers all mixed together into a political and religious plot structure that has them clashing at all times.

“He has created a fantasy world that looks pretty much like the real world, except that it is filled with different cultures and religions that help guide the characters through their daily lives,” said Nayera Samir, an Egyptian writer. “It is also a world filled with many characters with no clear lead.”

The compelling and ever-evolving cast of characters may be one of the main reasons why GOT is so addictive. “Martin has a talent for seamlessly blending fantasy with reality. And he keeps on surprising us with more plot twists and reveals more than we know what to do with,” Samir added. “But without the impressive character development all of this would be much less interesting,” she explained.

Because in GOT anything is possible, “a minor character can turn the whole story around, and a seemingly important character get killed off when you least expect it,” she added. “By now we have all learned not to get too attached to any of the characters because eventually they will disappear,” said Samir. However, “if the character of Tyrion Lannister, played by the incredibly talented Peter Dinklage, were killed off I am sure many people would be prepared to riot,” she continued.

If we had all stopped watching after our favourite character had died, the number of viewers would not have grown to such a record-breaking amount. “But when our favourite character dies, our attention is immediately diverted to others,” explained Samir. “We feel sad, shocked and mourn, but we move on. It is the very well-written characters who draw us back in for every episode and for every new season,” she added.  

Game of Thrones

What makes GOT even more addictive, according to Mustafa, is that it has more twists and turns than a hedge maze and is constantly throwing viewers for a loop.

At any one time in the show there is so much happening to different characters that are worlds apart and everything is so delicately woven together that the slightest change in one character affects the entire plot.

The dialogue written for some of the characters like Varys, Little Finger and Tyrion is simply brilliant, fans say. “Every episode ends with a new plot twist, unlike other television series nowadays,” Samir said. “In GOT, nothing is certain, and the rule is that there are no rules.”

In addition, Martin has taken care of every tiny detail imaginable, creating mottos and even songs. Moreover, all the different languages used in the show add to its superiority, and they have been so good that fans have even created dictionaries for fictional languages like Valayrian and Dothraki. “The amount of detail Martin has managed to create is amazing, and it definitely adds to the intensity of the show,” explained Samir.

A lot of the main incidents in the show, like the red wedding and Cersei’s walk of redemption, have historical backgrounds, according to Samir. “I grieved for days after the red wedding, but the incredible balance between the individual characters developed within a larger structure telling the greater story has kept me hooked,” explained Samah Ibrahim, an executive with a multinational company.

When Samir was first introduced to GOT she dismissed it, assuming it was another historical fantasy show of the type she had seen before, but little did she know.

“When you start watching GOT, you feel it is a huge messy plot with tons of characters and that there is no way in the world you will be able to remember all of them,” Samir explained. “But as you progress, the plot and the intactness of the storyline keep you on your toes until the very end,” she added.

Game of Thrones

Unlike Samir, Cairo viewer Rana Allam got so hooked from the first episode that she decided to put watching the series aside and start reading the books instead.

“They are way better than the TV drama,” Allam explained. “The books are brilliant, and the details add to the depth of both the characters and the stories.”

After finishing the books and identifying with the Starks and Arya, played by Maisie Williams, in particular, Allam went back to watching the show. “They are all incredible in GOT,” she said. “But Arya is particularly brilliant,” she added.

Every character in GOT is unique and has got both good and bad sides, and this helps viewers understand their motivations, flaws and shortcomings, with the exception of Joffery and Ramsay Bolton who are purely evil. “It makes it easier for you to empathise with them rather than just like them,” explained Ibrahim.

“The emotional investment we now have in each of the characters is what keeps us coming back every week for more,” she said. “I just can’t live without the Starks and the Lannisters and the constant fear of Martin killing off everyone I love in the show,” she added.

The question on everyone’s mind is who will sit on the iron throne at the end of the series. “Will it be Cersei, Daenerys or our beloved Jon Snow,” Ibrahim wondered. “I guess we will have to wait to find out.”

“Now we have a new season, which means more action sequences, more beautiful locations and gorgeous costumes, and most importantly something to look out for every week. However, it also brings to mind the terrifying reality that the show is slowly but surely coming to an end. What happens then,” she asked.

add comment

  • follow us on