After some careful thought, I have decided not to review Game of Thrones on this site any longer.
My patience for this show has run out. I’m tired of the cycle of blind optimism followed by plotlines that literally make me feel nauseous. I’m tired of all the rage I go through — from finding out what will happen, to anticipating the episode, to watching things I know I don’t want to see, to thinking about it afterward and reading other responses. As much as I love the characters, it’s unhealthy to go through that so often for a fictional show.
When people responded to the criticism of Sansa’s plotline with “well you never complained before,” I realized just how many times I have been horrified by this show before. Cersei and Jaime. Events at Craster’s Keep. The treatment of Ros. Things that my selective, wanting-to-enjoy-Game-of-Thrones memory has forgotten, but which contribute to this picture of sickening misogyny in the show.
I can only enjoy the show now through a sort of selective amnesia, where I ignore problematic past plot points in favor of whatever is happening on screen right now. And that makes for terrible commentary. It creates commentary that forgives the show for its issues and is as inconsistent as the show itself. Yet how can I do the opposite without sounding like a broken record? Every Sansa post from now on would either say “She’s a victim here again,” or comment that she gained character growth and independence from being tortured and raped. I can’t possibly appreciate any part of her plot line from now on unless I ignore or forgive that fact, and although that’s a perfectly fine coping strategy for watching the show, it’s not acceptable for reviewing the show.
But because I’ve stayed with the show through so much, I watched the latest episode, The Gift, to see how I felt about reviewing it. And here’s what I saw:
Sansa as the broken waif, in a white dress and a tear-streaked face. Sure, she showed personality and strength here, even in just trying to convince Theon to help her, but there was something so symbolic about that dirty white dress — like the innocent girl destroyed so she can rise from the ashes, strong and in control of her own destiny.
Gilly being almost raped in a violent scene to so that Sam could demonstrate his love and strength of character — and then sleeping with Sam immediately afterward.
One of the sandsnakes stripping to taunt Bronn for no apparent reason, in a scene that doesn’t seem to contribute to the plot.
Brienne standing uselessly outside Winterfell, doing nothing until Sansa manages to give her a sign — despite the fact that if Sansa was in real trouble, she wouldn’t be able to give a sign.
It’s all old and familiar. Rape as a plot-device. Pointless nudity and sexposition. Terrible characterization. The emotional fetishization of female pain. All in one episode. An episode that was not particularly awful in comparison to many others. Why do we have any hope for this show any more, when this is what we see?
I may still watch the show, because I remain curious about what will happen to the characters, even though I know it won’t be anything I like. I may occasionally write about it, if I keep watching and feel like I have something new to say. But I won’t be doing weekly reviews any more, and there’s no guarantee I’ll comment on any other significant developments in the future.
I’ve gotten a lot out of writing about this show, and I really appreciate everyone who’s been reading my thoughts. But it’s time for me to step back, for now at least.
And in lieu of show reviews, maybe I’ll start writing about the books again. I definitely need to write about Margaery for my women of ASOIAF series. And a reread might be in order, in the hope that Winds of Winter comes out sometime this decade.