How To Live In A World That's Obsessed With Game Of Thrones

Image: HBO

One more episode of Game of Thrones left. A lot of people are gonna have some postpartum feelings. I’m going to feel relieved. I’ve spent eight years deciding not to watch our decade’s defining TV show. For a while I felt like an outcast, like Jon Snow, or Arya Stark, or Theon Greyjoy, or Tyrion Lannister. OK so I read the books. But you don’t have to go that far to beat GoT FOMO.

Don’t start watching now

Is the show amazing, and will you be missing out? Maybe! But don’t start it now! Trust me, I waited a few months to watch season 1 of Westworld, and it made me feel cold and alone. (And boy is that a show you don’t want to feel cold and alone after.) If you start watching now, and it’s great, you’ll get all excited and you’ll want to go over it with all your fellow Thrones watchers. But they won’t even remember half the stuff from season 1, and they’ll worry about talking to you without spoiling surprises. They’ll have moved on, and they’ll want to talk about Dune.

If you think you might really enjoy the show, wait til the next big anniversary when other people are getting into it too. The series premiered in 2011, so there could be a 10th-anniversary resurgence in just two years.

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Read all the spoilers

Don’t do this if you have any hope of watching the show down the road! Thrones has a great plot that rewards a clean watch. But by this point, you’ve had at least some of the story spoiled, right? You have to know some of the major deaths or character turns. I mean, I haven’t watched a Marvel movie in a decade, but I know what Thanos did.

So you want to bathe in all the good bits, to spoil things on your own terms, you could sample some YouTube supercuts and episode recaps and TV Tropes pages. There are a lot of cool moments that you can enjoy stripped of their context. And if you’re a storytelling nerd who just didn’t care for the specific execution of Thrones, you might actually appreciate reading about a show you never watched.

Read the books

I heartily recommend the books instead of the show. They’re really fun! The violence is less stomach-turning on the page, and the story is richer with all the backstory included.

The show Game of Thrones is 70+ hours long. At a typical reading speed, the books will take you 120+ hours. Almost twice as much time, but a lot easier to schedule, especially if you read it on your phone. (Personally I read some on Kindle, some as mass-market paperbacks, which are more fun to pull out in the park on a summer day.)

When you particularly like a scene, you can check out its TV equivalent. And when the two versions are different, you’ll probably prefer the book’s version, and you can feel a little smug that you, an intellectual, chose to read instead of watch.

To feel even smugger, read this spoiler-free Twitter thread about the differences between the books and the show. The thing is, the show got ahead of the books, because the books hadn’t ended yet, and a lot of viewers feel like the show suffered once it had to find its own way.

Yes, the final books haven’t actually come out yet, and instead of finishing them Martin has released an entire book of more backstory. The man wrote a pretend history book about his own unfinished story. If that seems badass to you, then follow that instinct and read the books. And then decide whether to give in and see how the show resolved everything, or wait for Martin to actually release the final two books (ha ha ha).

Get really into Rome

Or The Borgias or Vikings or any other number of shows that share things in common with Game Of Thrones. Get into some sweeping ensemble drama about power struggles, one that’s either long over or just gearing up. Something you don’t have to watch along with the whole world. Or catch up real quick on Killing Eve. We’re all watching that now, right?

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