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The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.

For months now, friends of mine have talked about this HBO show called Game of Thrones.  And for months, I’ve promised to watch it, only to pass it up for a new book to read or to mess around on my iPad with apps like StumbleUpon. 

It took a tremendous fuck-up of a game by the Saints against the Falcons (my baby threw 5 INTs and ended his 54-game TD-throwing streak—tremendous fuck-up is an understatement) for me to take a break from football one Sunday and convince my roommates to start this series with me.

10 hours later and season 1 behind us, I was all about Game of Thrones.  I was recommending it to my siblings, talking to anyone who was already an established fan about the craziness of the events that unfolded, updating my Facebook statuses about direwolves and my hatred for the King of the Seven Kingdoms. 

I went to work on Monday with thoughts about how great of a name Casterly Rock is for a city and swearing by my theory of never trusting a man with a woman’s name (freakin’ Jaime Lannister!).  I found myself wanting to name my daughter (if I were to ever have children) “Arya” and smiling every time I look up to see the moon and stars because I think of Khaleesi and Khal Drogo’s affectionate sweet-talk.

There are 3 things that I consider when it comes to TV shows, books, and movies:

  1. Plot—is it thought-provoking?  Are the underlying themes realistic?
  2. Dialogue—is it intelligent?  Witty?  Sarcastic?  Funny?
  3. Characters—can I relate to a specific character?  Are they presented in a complex and in-depth way?

Game of Thrones answers each of these questions and sets the bar for what I call entertainment.

Because I’m not trying to write a thesis paper on the show, I’ll simply focus on the characters, specifically the female leads.  After Season 1, three female leads surfaced as major forces in the plot:  Catelyn Stark, Cersei Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen.

Catelyn, Cersei, and Daenerys all have strong personalities and face their situations with an air that demands respect.  (Everything I’m about to say about the plot is information provided in the Pilot episode, so I’m not giving away too much.)  From the very beginning, it is evident Catelyn is a righteous woman and a loving mother.  As the wife to Ned Stark, lord of Winterfell, she is loyal to her husband and provides her children with a good foundation that fosters obedience and discipline.  Cersei, the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms/wife of King Baratheon and mother to Joffrey, is an easy character to hate due to her pretentious demeanor and how Joffrey is the complete opposite of the Stark children.  Daeneryus, one of two of the only descendants of the Targaryen clan, is initially portrayed as a naïve young girl and promised to a Dothraki Khal (prince) by her brother for his personal agenda. 

What I love the most about these characters is how complex they are.  Although it’s easy to say Catelyn Stark is the ideal woman, I find her treatment of Jon Snow completely uncalled for and irrational.  It leads me to believe that she can’t be trusted because she will always act emotionally (justified by events that occur in Season 2).

Cersei is borderline evil, certifiably the most selfish woman ever, and she brought devil-incarnate to the world (Joffrey).  But just when you’re ready to cast her off as a character you can never ever relate to, you see the situation she’s in—a loveless marriage, a powerful mind and determination but stuck in a woman’s body in a man’s world—and you can kind of see why she is the way that she is.  Her two other children are sweet and wonderful and you know Cersei genuinely loves them (even Joffrey), so there’s got to be some good in her right?

Daeneryus (or Khaleesi meaning princess) is my favorite character of the entire series.  So you know the next paragraph will be completely biased.  Dany is faced with situations that she didn’t ask for.  Having an arranged marriage with a man who wears more eyeliner than she does and has longer hair, oh and add on the fact that he speaks the Dothraki language which she does not understand at all—it’s enough to make any girl either suicidal or seriously depressed.  But not Dany.  She sees the situation and tries to make the best of it, learning her newly adopted people’s culture and language and acting the role of a Khaleesi.  She doesn’t dwell on the fact that she didn’t choose this for her life, or even that she didn’t have a choice.  She focuses on the choices she is given.  In that way, I find her the most inspirational character because she not only adjusts to her new life but she also does not lose herself in the process.

I’ve met a few people in my life who clearly stated that fantasy/science fiction is not their thing.  “It’s just not believable or realistic enough for me” they say.  Which is completely understandable.  White Walkers most likely do NOT exist.  But what makes me a sci fi/fantasy lover is the knowledge that the mastermind behind the idea is not only brilliant, with his or her ability to transport readers/viewers to a whole other world, but that he or she can express their understanding/commentary of humanity beyond the realistic.  Those writers are capable of making me wish I could be as strong as Khaleesi or as brave as Ned Stark–characters that are not only fictional but also not of the world I am so familiar with.  Anyone or anything that can elicit such a strong emotion from the public deserves admiration.  

So, great job HBO, amazing job George R. R. Martin for taking 20 hours of my life and transporting me to a world where I don’t have to worry about deadlines or bills due, where I can just simply sit back and watch a completely new world unfold in front of me.

Okay, I think that’s enough Game of Thrones talk for the night.  March 31, 2013—Season 3 premiere.  Let’s do this.  What do I do for the next 3 months?

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