I’m an addict. I know it and it’s shameful. My vice of choice is neither alcohol nor painkillers nor tobacco nor work nor sex. It’s none of those things. Rather, I’m addicted to dragons — or rather Game of Thrones. Yes, the HBO medieval fantasy drama about a bunch of families vying for control of the Seven Kingdoms. Maybe there should be a 12-step program for all those struggling with the same affliction?
This past Sunday, after I watched — spoiler alert! — the resurrected hero and everyone’s favorite bastard, Jon Snow, named King of the North, and the vengeful lunatic Queen Cersei burn down a key portion of Kings’ Landing (and thin out a third of the cast), and watched the Mother of Dragons herself, Daenerys Targaryen, finally set sail for the fictional continent of Westeros to stake her claim to the Iron Throne, I was gripped by a gnawing pang of sadness that I’m sure is connected to withdrawal symptoms.
The symptoms are not severe…yet. Or maybe they are. Probably because the finale just aired and I’m still in the afterglow, I guess. I’m not experiencing shakes or chills because my mind and body are still in denial that it’s over — at least for now. Maybe next weekend, when my consciousness realizes there’s no new episode in the offing, I’ll begin hyperventilating, my senses thrown into mind-atrophying suspension because I won’t be gawking at dragons for a while. That is, until next year, when it starts all over again.
The past few seasons my addiction has become insurmountable. Not only have I treated each new episode with a religious reverence bordering on beatific awe, but to supplement my insatiable appetite for more and more, I began to check out the infinitude of review-speculation-prediction discussions about GoT on YouTube. Most of these are OK, but my favorites are the two Israeli guys of GoT Academy; Ben Mankiewicz and his quasi-Algonquin roundtable of wits of What the Flick?!; and the jaunty millennial guy/gal duo of Jawiin. I also like the two nerdy guys who look like rejects from HBO’s Silicon Valley series in After The Thrones, the premium cable network’s after-show discussion, which streams on HBO Now and HBO Go.
Even if I have some issues with their presentation, I’ll still watch and listen to dozens of other videos and discussions posted on these and other platforms. They feed on my addiction. I feed on them.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched each episode or how many times I’ve watched Seth Meyers’ still very funny skit involving Jon Snow (Kit Harington) as the world’s worst dinner guest.
And it doesn’t really matter if the last season sucked (and it didn’t, by the way). I’m hopelessly hooked.
My fascination with GoT is strictly confined to the on-screen narratives. I have no interest or inclination to learn about the personal lives of the actors or showrunners. I don’t care — good for them that they all got such a great gig. What really grabs my attention are the story and characters inspired by the novels authored by George RR Martin.
Oh, and here’s another shameful confession that I have to make — a cardinal faux pas among some GoT fans: I haven’t read the books. Gasp. Yes, behead me now like poor Ned Stark (Sean Bean), fallen patriarch of the noble, ill-fated Stark family, or maybe send me off to the South in an exile of disgrace like Red Witch Melisandre. (I guess Jon doesn’t need her around anymore for future resurrections.)
Two years ago, I contemplated quite seriously reading the books until I thumbed through one at a local bookstore and saw it was a thousand pages. I like my books far shorter in length. I’m a lazy bookworm with a limited attention span. What can I say?
So, for now and through the remainder of the year, I, like many a sports fan, will wean myself off a perennial TV fix as I focus on other aspects of my life that have been put on hold.
But wait until early next year, when HBO begins airing commercials of Game of Thrones‘ abbreviated season 7. Then my obsession will revive on all cylinders.