Opinion

Confessions Of A Failing Game Of Thrones Student

YouTube Screenshot/Midwest Rocky/HBO

Like many, I love watching Game of Thrones. The richness of the narrative, characters and cinematography is absolutely breathtaking. But I can no longer live a lie.

It’s the complex storylines. I cannot keep up with them. If Game of Thrones were a college class I’d be failing, and looking to drop it like Friday morning French.

I bear responsibility, particularly since I was late to the party. Years back, everyone around me caught the vapors over the show. My personal Dungeons & Dragons sensor flashed warning-red, so I resisted.

Then a good friend with impeccable cultural taste urged me to reconsider. I responded with “methinks I’ve better things to do o’er the fortnight, m’lord.” He forgave the snark and, eventually, convinced me. I binged to catch up.

But tardiness is no excuse. I’ve had time to study family trees, learn House alliances, even practice the Common Tongue. Yet my Game-of-Thrones-Day preparation still falls short.

Anticipating your question, no, I have not read the books. Should I have to? I’m just looking for a little Sunday evening escapism, not an advanced degree in Dothraki.

And that’s just it: lately watching Game of Thrones feels like anything but escapism. As an episode reaches denouement, I find myself not at peace, but muttering things like “wait, who defenestrated Bran?” and “I’m hosed if Season Six is on the exam.”

I say exam because that’s a recurring nightmare I’ve been having. Watching it from bed Sunday evenings hasn’t helped. But at some point Mrs. Tewksbury, my eighth grade English teacher, appears in my dreams. And not in an awesome, Van Halen kind of way.

She unceremoniously slaps a test on my desk. It reads “What is the metaphorical significance of Wildfire’s color? The Raven’s third eye? Tyrion Lannister’s scar? Explain fully.”

Don’t get me started on those dragons, which have absolutely jangled my nerves. The other day the shadow of a plane passing overhead appeared on the ground, just as my neighbor started his leaf blower. I nearly chipped a tooth diving into my boxwoods.

And what do my Sunday evening viewings bring me? Feelings of inadequacy Monday morning. I practically tiptoe through the office, sure that everyone is waiting to guffaw when I confuse Valyrian steel with Corinthian leather.

As the workday hours pass my fears multiply, like a fleet of ships growing on the horizon from that House with all the ships. Footjoy or whatever.

It’s more than inadequacy, it’s the shame of hypocrisy. How can I hold myself out as a fan of something I essentially don’t understand?

I don’t patronize jai alai or German opera because I have no idea what’s happening in either. What’s different here? Why, I was so lost last season that when Ian McShane appeared, I actually asked my wife “to what House has Al Swearengen pledged loyalty?”

Here’s what I’m thinking. HBO should run two showings. The regularly scheduled one in its prime-time slot Sunday, plus something a little more remedial for the likes of me.

Earlier or later, dinner or indeed, sock-puppet theater would be fine. Anything to fill the Moon Door-sized gaps in my knowledge.

So let me know, HBO, if this idea of mine has legs. But let me know soon. Winter is coming.