The Game of Thrones series finale aired three years ago, and unless you were lucky enough to not be on social media at the time, you probably remember that it was greeted by a thunderous backlash. People had big problems with how the series wrapped up, which is fine, but a lot of them used their disappointment as an excuse to attack the producers — most prominently showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss — in very personal terms, which is anything but.
Fast forward a few years and HBO is about to premiere a Game of Thrones prequel series called House of the Dragon. However their feelings about the ending of the original series, people seem to be getting excited for this one, but they also remember the backlash. Let me assure you: the top brass at HBO do too. Executive Casey Bloys, who apparently sounded “weary of the subject,” reminisced about it to The Hollywood Reporter:
It was a social media backlash. I think in multiple parts of our society, we are reminding ourselves that Twitter is not real life. We knew it was going to be divisive and, of course, you want all fans to be happy, but that’s never going to happen. There weren’t a lot of people walking around despondent or upset. It’s a take that reads well but probably doesn’t fully reflect viewer feelings.
I agree with parts of that and disagree with others. Bloys is right that Twitter is not real life (and thank the gods in the sky and under the earth for that) and that lots of people are still interested in the show and its progeny; the hypo for House of the Dragon is proof enough of that. I know Game of Thrones fans who didn’t like the ending — I’m one of them — but I also know people who watched the show casually who didn’t get bent out of shape about anything. For most fans, it just wasn’t a big deal.
That said, I think Bloys undersells the severity of the backlash when he talks about not being able to make everyone happy, which has become a consistent talking point among producers and actors forced to entertain versions of this maddening question. I mean, yeah, you can’t please everyone, sure. But the finale should have pleased more people than he did. I’ve overheard complete strangers on elevators talking about how they didn’t like the ending. The displeasure wasn’t just on social media.
And again, it’s okay to not like a TV show. But there’s a line between critiquing it — which is what I like to think we were doing here at WiC — and spewing toxic bile about it. And speaking of those melodramatic keyboard jockeys, A Song of Ice and Fire author George RR Martin had some choice words for them.
HBO executive reminds Game of Thrones haters that “Twitter is not real life”
Martin also weighed in on the backlash. He was far less diplomatic than Bloys, but also way more entertaining:
The fucking toxic internet and these podcasts out there saying that season eight left such a bad impression that people say, ‘Oh, I’m never going to watch them again.’ I don’t trust them anymore.
I agree: never trust a podcast. You can download the Take the Black podcast wherever podcasts are available, incidentally.
But yes, of course you shouldn’t take seriously the overwrought claims of people who say that season 8 of Game of Thrones ruined their lives and committed crimes against storytelling and television. If you loved the ending, great. If you hated it, great. Just try and make sure your conversations about it don’t embarrass the whole of Earth when the aliens finally arrive and start going through our browser history.
As for House of the DragonI’ll be watching when it premieres on HBO and HBO Max on August 21.
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