*No Spoilers Ahead*
What can be said about Game of Thrones that hasn’t been said already? Right now, the final season of this show is currently airing and fans couldn’t be more excited. It’s quite poetic that this show premiered in 2011, the early days of the 2010s, and will end the last year of the decade.
2011 feels like a lifetime ago because so much has happened in the pop culture landscape since then. It’s no secret that film studios invest A LOT of their money and resources on established IP, and it seems like television is the only place where risk-taking mature storytelling can thrive.
The A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R. Martin is a series of adult high-fantasy novels that are dense with story and character. Adapting a series like this for the big screen would require a HUGE budget, multiple movies based on one book, and a mature rating that wouldn’t be as profitable as the usual PG-13.
Television was the perfect medium for this series’ adaptation because it gives the creators time to develop its storyline and characters. HBO couldn’t have been a better place for this series because of its mature programming. But investing money on a big budget fantasy show based on novels that weren’t Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings could’ve been an absolute disaster. The fantasy genre has proven successful with the mentioned Potter or Rings franchise in film, but a TV show?
The first season intentionally skipped battles that happened in the books so it could cut corners in its budget. But to fans, that was okay because it focused on the important things; story and character. A lot of films get lost in the spectacle when it comes to adapting novels, while Game of Thrones focuses on the story and characters first before it invests in the spectacle. Thankfully the show was successful, and once the show got a bigger budget, it earned the right to showcase the spectacle of giant CGI dragons.
Since the show started, the Ice and Fire fanbase has become worldwide, inspiring them to read the novels. It’s also attracted a fanbase of people that usually wouldn’t be into fantasy because of its well-rounded characters and its mature take on the genre.
The series has also made it clear that no one is truly 100% safe. Main characters with lots of screentime have been murdered in cold blood completely changing how the story will play out. Certain deaths were so unexpected that fans have now been accustomed to expect the unexpected.
The 2010s have been a great decade for television, but Game of Thrones represents what TV shows are able to do. The last episode will air on May 19, 2019, and it feels like nothing will be the same after that. Now that Game of Thrones has proven that blockbuster genre shows can be successful, networks will be chasing that lightning in a bottle.
Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+ are developing these big budget shows that would’ve never seen the light of day if Thrones wasn’t successful.
Netflix has The Witcher and the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender remake in active development, two fantasy franchises that the streaming service hopes to become their Game of Thrones. The Witcher especially is another beloved adult high-fantasy series like the Ice and Fire novels, so I wonder what inspired Netflix to greenlight that project?
Amazon is developing a show in the Lord of the Rings universe, set before the events of the original movies. This show has been reported to have high production values, but without Thrones’ success would this series even be happening?
The Star Wars franchise has hired Thrones showrunners to develop their own trilogy that’s rumored to be set in the Old Republic. That setting would be perfect for them because there would be a lot of elements of political intrigue similar to Thrones. The Mandalorian is set to release in November 2019, which is expected to be a Star Wars series with the production values of the films.
HBO is developing multiple Game of Thrones spinoffs, because why not? Can it recapture that Game of Thrones greatness?
May 19th will be the end of an era. Game of Thrones throughout the 2010s took television shows to a whole new level and maximized the potential of long-form storytelling. I will go as far as to say that the 2020s will be known as the post-Thrones era where shows with blockbuster production value become the norm because Game of Thrones set the standard.