Game of Thrones – Episode 1
Be advised — I am about to discuss an HBO show about a novel that had a lot of violence and a lot of sexy sex sex. Also, the sexy sex sex is what I have major beefs with. Please cover the eyes of the nearest person younger than you.
Also, here be spoilers.
Typecast all the way to the bank
I watched the first episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” last night. Yes, I’m a week behind.
I didn’t mean to watch it, and then I watched all of it. You might say I liked it. You might say I can’t get enough of it. You might say I wish there were a theater full of me so we could all cheer when Tyrion appears.
The casting is great. The acting is great. The kid actors are great, and the kids playing Arya and Bran are scientifically perfect. The art department and the effects are great. The directing is pretty good. The story is all there, and the writers condense it pretty well.
I speculate audiences not familiar with the books are hella lost. There is a lot of cryptic (“Why is Cat giving Jon stinkface? Who is Robert’s lost love? Who the hey are the Targaryens?”; as there was in the book. Like the book, you have to keep following the breadcrumb trail of zippy dialogue. The facts and relationships will be repeated, Homerically, until you understand everything and you know where it’s going and then a twist twists and you shout “OH SHIZZ!” at the book — or the screen.
But I got beefs. I got beefs like Carl’s Jr.
There is sexy sex sex, and a lot of it was changed from the book. Sometimes this makes sense. It’s one thing to read that Catelyn is so alarmed by her sister’s letter that she doesn’t bother to hide her nudity from the messenger, which is a nice character note for Cat, who avoids pretense. It is another thing to try to catch rice grains of exposition with a naked woman on the screen. So I get it. It’s okay if the postcoital subtext is lost — the idea that Cat holds her husband close even as the king tries to take him away.
But there were changes to the sexual content that do bother me. Twice, a sex scene where the woman shared power and pleasure equally with the man was changed to make her submissive. Twice, this choice hurts the story — as well as my feelings.
In the case of Cersei and Jaime, Bran discovers them having sex, well, Dothraki-style. In the book, they’re upright. What’s the big deal? I’m glad you asked:
- The reveal is better in the book. Bran sees people getting it on. He’s curious. He then sees the queen’s face. THAT’S BAD! But before he can escape, she sees him, alerts her partner, which is (DUN-DUN-DUN!) HER BROTHER! OH THIS IS VERY BAD. Doing the reveal the other way (Jaime, then Cersei) is less interesting.
- Taking a woman from behind is what the savage Dothraki do. These are civilized, face-to-face people. Contrast is more interesting.
- Cersei and Jaime consider themselves co-beings who are so superior to everyone else that it justifies all their actions — even incest. I don’t know if that’s why George R. R. Martin saw fit to put them on their feet, so that neither was above the other, but it makes perfect sense, and considering he might have put a smidge of effort into this little scene, I THINK I’M RIGHT.
Because after a night of being submissive to my husband, I can’t wait to slip away and be submissive to my lover.
But my displeasure at this change pa-a-a-a-ales in comparison to my displeasure with what they did with the wedding night between Khal Drogo and Dany.
Recap: Dany’s brother, Viserys, arranges her marriage to a barbarian so he can get an army. Dany feels sad and helpless. Viserys says he’d let 40,000 men shag her if it got him his throne. Dany feels sad and helpless. At her wedding party, Khal Drogo looks spooky while the barbaric barbarians shag and murder each other. Dany feels sad and helpless. They remove to consummate the marriage, Drogo has his way with her while she cries. YAY, THANKS, STORY.
Well, I guess there must be some reason for that, right? I mean, that’s how it was in the book, right?
HELL NO. In the book, IN CONTRAST to what we think we know about Drogo, and OVERTURNING our expectations, Drogo does not force sex. It is DANY that eventually initiates sex.
Why is this important?
- Having the same thing happen over and over is BORING. The reason I’ve read over a thousand pages of “Ice and Fire” (with more on the way) is that it’s twisty.
- It’s important that Drogo treats Dany better than her own brother does. This sets the stage for her to feel more loyal to her husband than her brother. I don’t wanna startle anybody, but that’s kind of important later.
- In the book, Drogo goes back to acting indifferent and barbaric pretty much the rest of the time. If HBO wants me to invest interest in him, they’re going to have to concoct some other stuff for him to do. And if they want to redeem him from raping the second most interesting character in the book, he’s going to have to pet a lot of puppies.
- In the book, this is the first time Dany takes control of anything. It’s how she comes of age. Sort of appropriate that it happens on her wedding night. What’s it going to be in the show — she chooses how to braid her horse’s hair?
Every young actress dreams of the role that will allow her to capture SUPER BORINGNESS.
So why, why, WHY did both these very important story moments get changed?
I hope it’s not because censors are more comfortable with sex when it’s forced.
Maybe with Cersei and Jaime, it was easier to choose a sex position that made them both face camera. Lazy and careless, but easier. Okay.
Maybe with Dany and Drogo, they didn’t have time for the whole scene. NOT OKAY. They should have made time, and I’ll tell you what they could have cut out — any two scenes with Sansa. Sansa is boring. She SHOULD be boring right now — she doesn’t get interesting til the end of “Clash of Kings.” Right now she just represents how following the rules doesn’t keep you safe. Dear HBO: please don’t rewrite hugely important scenes so I can spend more time with Sansa mincing around like Scarlett O’Hara.