With "Game of Thrones" in its fourth season on HBO, there aren't many people who haven't at least heard of the medieval drama - whether or not they know what it's about.
As with every show, there are comparisons. And the biggest one I've heard is "Game of Thrones" compared to "Lord of the Rings." While I personally think that Tolkien would be rolling over in his grave if he heard that one, I can see it.
Like many great shows, "Game Of Thrones" started as a literary series, by George R.R. Martin. HBO adapted the series into a TV show, and BOOM! we have amazing CG animation of the world (Westeros) that Martin has created. Another thing that "Game Of Thrones" features are little-known, mostly English actors. The show didn't need big names to carry it - the storyline itself holds the show. And obviously, it works. The momentum that the show has gained from viewers has made "Game of Thrones" the talk of TV critics.
Shown is Arya Stark, played by Maisie Williams.
Shown is Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clark.
The reason I dislike the comparison to "Lord of the Rings" is the fact that "Game of Thrones" gets gritty. There are explicit sex scenes, gruesome killings and mentions of rape in almost every episode. The show is not for the faint of heart.
While the storyline seems to be a classic tale of good vs. evil at first glance, it's not. Of course there are characters fighting to be ruler of the Iron Throne, but detailing the multitude of subplots that run through the storyline would take entirely too long to re-tell.
In this series, Martin has created a brutal world - especially for women. Whether or not it's for shock value, in each episode most of the women in the show fear for their lives, whether it's from the elements to male characters bullying and sometimes torturing women, to a flippant mention of prostitution and using women strictly for sex. At the same time, Martin has created incredibly strong female characters - including Daenerys Targaryen, "Mother of Dragons" and contender for the Iron Throne; Arya Stark, a stranded tomboy trying to find her remaining family members; or Cersei Lannister, former queen and one of the show's cruelest and most ruthless characters.
The show has been under some fire with the fourth season that began in April, due to scenes involving rape and incest, and straying from the storyline in the book. And while many people complain at the shock, it works for the show.
The show also has woven in a mythological element among the fighting and brutality. Especially in the more recent seasons, "Game of Thrones" has been showing us the mysterious monsters that lie beyond "The Wall" in an undiscovered frozen tundra.
One thing I can say is that you can't understand the fascination with this world until you watch the show. Before I watched, I didn't understand what people were saying or how the show could be that good. After devouring the first season in a weekend, and the same with the second and third, I signed up for HBO just to watch the fourth season.
Unfortunately, "Game of Thrones" isn't easily accessible for those used to the convenience of Netflix. The show isn't available through streaming but can be purchased on DVD.
You can catch Game of Thrones on HBO starting at 9 p.m. Sundays.
Wiegand is a lifestyle-entertainment reporter and TV aficionado. For more information on "Wiggin' out about TV," contact the Showcase department at 570-326-1551 or showca firstname.lastname@example.org.