Lame of Thrones


LAST YEAR, in urgent need of a new show to devour, my wife Stephanie and I decided to make a go of Game of Thrones. We watched the pilot, and although we found it well made, it didn’t really pull us in. But we were desperate—we were coming off the first season of Homeland, and we needed a new TV opiate of similar sublimity—so we decided to keep watching, in the hope that we’d get swept away in George R. R. Martin’s world of faux-medieval dungeons and dragons and swordplay and incest. Ten minutes into Episode Two, we threw in the tunic.

Fast forward to this weekend. Again desperate for a new show, and on the recommendation of “The Sports Guy” Bill Simmons—who, like us, had shunned the program for a long time—we decided to give Game of Thrones one more try. This time, I’m pleased to report, we made it to the end of the second episode. But that’s as far as we’ll go. As the credits rolled, we looked at each other and uttered the same single word: “Eh.”

Stephanie’s post on the world’s foremost forum for artistic criticism (Facebook) summed it up nicely: “We just can’t do it. It’s our third time trying to get through an episode. Why invest? Lots of unfair and violent things happening to blathering, long-winded people with English accents who desperately need to wash their hair.” Indeed, theirs is a world in dire need of levity, color, moral goodness, and Garnier Fructis.

For the purposes of posterity (insofar as that concept exists in cyberspace), I’m sharing my impressions of the first two episodes. I’m going to rely completely on my memory here, and not use my usual writerly trick of using IMDB to look up the names of the characters so I appear smarter than I actually am.

Note: there may be spoilers, but not very many.

"Before I answer your question about the Dothraki, let me just say how amazing it is that two attractive women are paying attention to me."


Credit Sequence

HBO just kills these things: The Sopranos, The Wire, True Blood, and now this. The game, the gears, the art design, the music: wow. Would that the actual show were this cool.


Ned Stark

Our hero, imbued with noble bearing and the greasiest hair in Christendom. Not in any way related to Tony Stark, alas, although I suppose you could call a seasoned warrior who swings a mean broadsword “Iron Man.” Pretty sure Sean Bean was one of the kings in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’m not a big fan of hobbits, either, but at least Tolkien knew better than to saddle his protagonist with a pedestrian name like Ned (Stephanie: “That name exists so Dr. Seuss can rhyme it with ‘bed’.”).

Sean Bean looks completely believable in Middle Earth garb...unlike the rest of the cast.


Keepers of the Night Watch

A band of celibate sentinels who dress all in black and guard a big wall at the edge of the northern border from possibly-mythological creatures from even further north. Which means Santa Claus and his elves have no truck with the Stark children.


King of the Bleached Blonde Bad Guys

Didn’t catch his name, but he’s the most loathsome character on the show, which is saying something, because these people are all horrible. That said, I’m still not entirely convinced this is not Andy Samberg with an albino wig filming a protracted SNL Digital Short. I keep expecting Justin Timberlake to appear on a black steed, crooning, “I’m on a horse, muthafucka!”

"Christmas...dick in a box. Dothraki wedding...dick in a box."



Brother-sister love is to Game of Thrones as BDSM is to 50 Shades of Grey. On the side we’re supposed to root for, the queen is fucking her brother, whereas in the Land of the Bleached Blonde Bad Guys, the king is fucking his sister. Hey, you can’t accuse the show of not being morally ambiguous. I wonder if George R. R. Martin holds his family reunions at Plato’s Retreat.



Dogged instruments of deus ex machina…or deus ex canine, as it were; just when one of the characters is about to get it, woof, these handsome creatures appear to save the day. More attractive and more interesting than any of the humans on the show. The Starks do not require the services of Cesar Milan in chain mail.


Ned’s Younger Daughter

She takes after her old man: she’s feisty and she likes to fight. She’s basically Merida from Brave except that she doesn’t pay an old witch to turn her mother into a bear, and I can understand her when she speaks.


Draco Malfoy

The petulant heir to the throne. Not his actual name, obviously, but the same hair color, the same haircut, the same condescension, the same lack of even a shred of goodness as the one-dimensional J.K. Rowling creation. Now that I’m thinking about it, Game of Thrones is like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings played out in a D&D module. (Stephanie: “He sort of looks like a cute Lesbian.” She said the same thing about Justin Bieber).

"Face it, Potter: Gryffindor sucks, and Hermione's a whore."



Pretty sure this is his name. It might be Bram, or Dram, or possibly Flan. He’s the wide-eyed little kid the queen’s incestuous brother pushes out of the window at the end of the first episode, to preserve the secret of their disgusting affair. Fie, HBO. There’s nothing more emotionally manipulative than the defenestration of a small child.



This is the tribe of muscle-bound warriors with weird facial hair whose silent king marries the sister of the King of the Bleached Blonde Bad Guys. I can’t watch this Dothraki king without being very aware that he’s an actor, and in real life, is probably in a West Hollywood Whole Foods right now, grooving to Kings of Leon on his iPod, buying fresh avocados and cilantro. (I have the same problem when I try to watch the old episodes of Star Trek). How do these guys say their lines without giggling?

"I got a sweet bungalow in Echo Park. You?"


Sir Richard Carlyle

That’s his name on Downton Abbey, where he plays the rich newsman Mary almost married. Here, he’s the bearded ambassador to the Dothraki (which involves eating a lot of horse meat) and the trusted advisor of the King of the Bleached Blonde Bad Guys (which involves putting up with a lot of horse shit). A mortal lock to be dead before the end of the first season.


Bleached Blonde Queen of the Dothraki

She looks like she wandered onto the Game of Thrones lot by mistake from next door, where they’re shooting Girls. And her ladies-in-waiting are even more anachronistic. Was there Skinemax in medieval times?


George W. Bush

Apparently his severed head was used as a prop. I’m sort of curious to see if I can pick that out, like looking for the dwarf who hung himself on the set of Wizard of Oz, but I can probably just YouTube it and save myself the time.


Tylenol Lassiter

Not sure if I got the name right. A man both great and small, Lassiter is the best character on the show, played to the hilt by the astonishingly talented Peter Dinklage. Bill Simmons calls him one of the ten best TV show characters of all time, and he may well be right, but I’ll never know.

Morris County, New Jersey, represent!


Conclusion: If I’m going to spend an hour a week watching a show about the heartless machinations of a privileged but talentless family driven by greed, cruelty, money, sex, and fame, I’ll stick with the Kardashians.


About Greg Olear

Greg Olear (@gregolear) is a founding editor of The Weeklings and the author of the novels Totally Killer and Fathermucker, an L.A. Times bestseller.
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12 Responses to Lame of Thrones

  1. My favourite parts of this were the title and the conclusion…

    I’ve never seen the show, but I have had a whole bunch of people tell me I should see it/act with incredulity when I don’t get what they’re talking about. I don’t like old timey faux-medieval stuff with dragons. It’s not my sort of fantasy. I’ve seen half an episode of a similar-ish show, Camelot, which started with Eva Green getting out of a bath. That’s more my sort of fantasy but the rest of the show was full of loud Shakespeare-esque dialogue.

    I never bothered with any of Shakespeare’s history plays until recently, because medieval type stories tend to leave me cold. However, the BBC have done Henry IV parts 1 & 2 which I watched because Tom Hiddleston is in it. It immediately displaced Hamlet as my favourite. They key was the limited emphasis on war, no silly speeches, outlandish characters, or magic dragons. It was human and dramatic and cool without all that fantasy nonsense.

    I’m kind of baffled by the immense popularity of fantasy stuff right now— not from a subjective point of view. Even though I don’t like fantasy I get why people do (and of course a lot of TV/film is a fantasy of one kind or another), but it seems strange that it has exploded and become so mainstream where once it was very, very, very niche. A bit like comics a few years ago.

    I have a theory that watching people live in a simpler, less tech-filled world is a quiet or subconcious reaction to the increasing complexity of modern life. I don’t know. I only got a B in sociology.

    • Major Weekling says:

      Thanks, Jedi. Man, this met with fierce resistance on FB. I’m sure it’s a good show…I just don’t like it.

      Not sure who told me this or where I read it, but there’s apparently a correlation between fantasy/sci-fi and the economy. In good economic times, sci-fi titles are popular; in recessions, fantasy. So that might explain it. But I never even took sociology, so what do I know.

      • I don’t like a lot of things… even shows I really like, I struggle to get into anything that lasts more than 6 episodes…

        To be honest I don’t know much about sociology. It was a long time ago and I’ve forgotten nearly everything but my very pretty, very feminist, radically left wing teacher.

        It is interesting though, how these patterns emerge. I don’t really like sci-fi or fantasy… in my creative writing workshops at university nearly everything was sci-fi or fantasy. Like, at least 80%.

        On an unrelated note, after your piece here last week I did a lot of reading on the Occupy movement which has slightly changed my mind. It still feels like a great opportunity has fizzled out, lacked focus, and lacked leadership… but the scale of involvement is encouraging and it could well be the precursor to something more important (obviously this will have to be after GOT finishes, but fantasy books tend to be quite short, right..?)

  2. Hank says:

    He may be right but I’ll never know. I totally agree wit this quote. There’s usually not a quote as good as this in tv criticism. Usually, these days, there’s a lot of hooey about the symbolism, and the target audience brewing some mystical B.S. and how the outcome is even greater than the some of its… well you know what I’m getting at. TV sucks ass. It’s hype hype hype hype. Movies, music. I think Ted K. had it right. Well, wait, not I don’t. But I don’t like Game of Thrones, and I never have to see it to know why I don’t like it. That’s what she said.

    • Major Weekling says:

      Thanks, man. At the end of the day, what we like is subjective. There are plenty of high-quality things I don’t like, and that’s the way it is.

      Appreciate the read and the comment.

  3. Greg Hansen says:

    I had a very strong feeling I should stay away from that show, and your post proved me right! Figures another Greg would point me in the right direction!

  4. Brian Eckert says:

    Re: Draco Malfoy: Nobody plays a cunty, petulant teenager better than a blonde British kid.

  5. maudia lanzotti says:

    You are right…the cruelty,the greasy hair,crazy storylines. I almost threw it in when the evil red haired witch gave birth to a demon, really graphic I might add! Or the two prostitutes sent to the draco malfoy clone were forced to torture each other with a giant dildo.(implied thank the lord) And yet…I appreciate no one is on a cell phone! No one is tapping away at a computer finding out everything. There is good and evil and no political ads, or clever satire about politicians. Hey it’s a fantasy! And it sucks me in every time.

    • Major Weekling says:

      Well, there is George Bush’s head on a pike…but you’ve got a good point.

      Sean said somewhere, on FB I think, that GOT is a show that succeeds despite having no likable characters. Maybe that’s what turns me off. I just don’t care about these people. Although your comment does make me curious.

      Thanks for writing in!

  6. Jennifer Kabat says:

    Just to say I seem to recall you liked John Carter. Your taste might be suspect, Mr Olear.

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