Every Sunday at 8:58 p.m., my parents lock themselves — not figuratively, they literally lock the door — in their bedroom. Is this some weird scheduled booty call? No, honestly, I think that would be slightly more normal. But instead, my parents seclude themselves from the rest of the family for this one treasured hour every week. Why? “Game of Thrones.”
I’m sure you’ve heard the name, as it is a widespread cultural phenomenon with a 33 million viewer fanbase. Whether you’re a fan yourself or not, you are familiar with “Game of Thrones” and its promiscuous characters, violent battle scenes and mythical elements. But many of you haven’t witnessed the simple liking of a TV show turn into an outright obsession, especially when you’re an outsider looking in.
Originally, I had no opposition to “Game of Thrones.” If anything, it just didn’t seem like my type of show. It didn’t bother me at first. It was just irrelevant. Then, my brother got my parents hooked. “Game of Thrones” isn’t just some TV show they watch; at this point, I could equate it to some super weird form of religion they worship. Whenever we go out to dinner, they are talking about Jon or Cersei and all of this juicy drama. I’m sitting there thinking: “Oooh, some serious drama at work or maybe in the family. This sounds kind of serious, I wonder if everyone is OK? Maybe I should ask about it.” But instead, I am hit with: “Oh Liv, no, this is ‘Game of Thrones!’”
This exact dialogue has happened on several occasions. If we are out to a nice Sunday dinner with my grandparents, we have to leave the restaurant by no later than 8:15 p.m. to ensure there is enough time to make popcorn and get all settled in. We are not allowed in the room during the screening — it’s forbidden.
Additionally, their obsession has compelled them to talk me into taking part of their crazy intoxication. Instead of luring me in, their mania has driven me to the opposite end. I have vowed to never watch the show, purely based on my refusal to give in to their wishes, which I admit is relatively irrational.
Granted, not all of “Game of Thrones” fans take their enjoyment of the show to extreme levels. But it got me thinking about TV’s ability to become such a core part of routine. “Game of Thrones” truly has become one of those shows that will mark a decade, similar to how “Seinfeld” became the iconic sitcom that defined the ’90s. I do not know much about “Game of Thrones,” so I cannot analyze its character development, plot, performance or directing. But I can talk about my perception of its effect on our culture.
Witnessing a phenomenon without being a part of it makes it all the more intriguing. I’m not driven to be included in this craze. I don’t feel pressure to be involved with this hallmark TV show. Instead, I realize how something somewhat arbitrary, like liking the same TV show, can really connect people. Social media following, fan merchandise and even the emotional reactions I see from people speak to this show’s obvious and impressive growth. “Game of Thrones” has become an integrated part of people’s lives, as I have gathered from simply being a bystander.
This fandom exists in milder forms outside of my family, as my roommate has plenty of “Game of Thrones” T-shirts, which again (to reiterate if it wasn’t clear before), I do not get the jokes printed on them. HBO Go has made access to the show easy, which probably contributes to the growing fanbase.
“Game of Thrones” has continued to catapult itself into stellar territory. I may not want to be a part of this devoted fandom, but I can at least recognize it and try to decipher it as a non-member. The themes of love, power struggles, family and betrayal are often topics of conversation associated with “Game of Thrones,” and these ideas have connected people and given them something similar to hold on to.
Sadly for my parents, but maybe happily for me, I can finally get my Sundays back and actually be involved in family conversations and understand what’s going on. “Game of Thrones” isn’t returning until 2019 for its final season. So, in the meantime, I get about a year’s break from dinners being cut short and doors being locked, but I know their passion and commitment will not waiver.