Why I Quit Watching “Game Of Thrones”

The title says it all, doesn’t it? I used to watch Game of Thrones, but I don’t anymore. I quit. I watched all of the episodes through season five, but I haven’t seen any of season six yet, and I plan to keep it that way. I lost interest.

One of the factors in my decision was convenience: The show is on HBO, and I don’t have cable, so watching the show always required hunting for illegally-uploaded videos on YouTube or Vimeo or whatever, and hoping that they wouldn’t be taken down too quickly.

You could argue that this was actually a non-decision on my part. It wasn’t so much an action as it was a desire to not act. The air date of the first episode came and went, and I didn’t make any effort to watch. I did nothing because I’m lazy that way, and doing so has freed up an hour each weekend. Which is nice.

Also, the plot of the show has at this point moved beyond that of the books. That, and the fact that the show’s plot has been given room to wildly diverge from that of the books, is another reason I lost interest. I would rather read this story than watch it – and I want to know what George R.R. Martin, not the showrunners, had in mind.

This leads me to my next reason. There is a lot of misogyny present on Game of Thrones. This has made me a little uncomfortable since season one, and REALLY uncomfortable since season five. I almost stopped watching after Sansa was raped by Ramsay Snow but because that scene occurred in one of the final episodes, I finished out the season and put the issue of whether I would continue the show on the back burner of my mind.

I didn’t think about it again, at least not seriously, until a few weeks ago. I’m really uncomfortable watching a show run by people who say they loved Jeyne Poole’s rape/torture scene so much that they gave it to Sansa instead.

Me when I think about the showrunners

Me when I think about the showrunners

Like, yes, I understand that Jeyne does not appear in the show because there was only room for so many characters, but we get it: Ramsay is evil. At some point it just becomes gratuitous violence against women. That kind of scene is very difficult for me to watch, and it wasn’t even part of the books – it’s yet another instance of the showrunners deciding to alter characters’ personalities and give them different story arcs.

And don’t even get me started on the objectification. We’ve all heard this show referred to as Game of Boobs, no? THERE ARE SO MANY. It’s as though the writers think the actual plot of this show is incapable of holding our attention. Someone goes on a rant about their mortal enemy? Add some boobs. Some else is planning battle strategies? YES LET’S PUT A NIPPLE HERE AND A NIPPLE THERE AND A NIPPLE EVERYWHERE. NIPPLES FOR EVERYONE.

How many times do we need to see Daenerys-the-fireproof-dragon-queen walk through a fire that causes all her clothes to burn off? Has the audience seriously forgotten that she can do that since the scene in, oh, I don’t know, season one?

About a month and a half ago I was talking to one of my friends about the show, and that conversation further contributed to my decision to quit watching. She and I both realized that we were only watching the show for the most surface-level reasons: The costumes, the music, the architecture, and the dozen or so actresses we have crushes on.

And I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong about watching a show for those reasons! Please don’t think that that’s what I’m saying here. There is nothing wrong with watching a show because the cinematography makes you smile, or because you want to smush mouths with one of one of the cast members, or whatever.

But I think that decision should be made, and is already made, on a case-by-case basis. Some people watch loads of shows for superficial reasons. Some people prefer to continue watching only the shows whose plots they are interested in, or the shows that they love for lots and lots of reasons and not just one.

I hope my use of “superficial” isn’t too confusing here? I’m not trying to say that these are dumb reasons but that they are, as I mentioned above, surface-level reasons. I’m using the word in that sense. I don’t appreciate the show on multiple and deeper levels anymore. I had ceased to watch it for things such as the plot and character development, and was now watching it because I like seeing castles and pretty dresses and lady knights. And that wasn’t really how I wanted to spend my time, especially when I could find similar, less problematic content elsewhere.

And besides, I can still see all of those things without having to watch the show. I can find pictures all over the Internet, and listen to whatever new and beautiful concoctions Ramin Djawadi has composed for the show – all without sitting through an hour-long episode each Sunday.

I still plan to keep reading the books. I need to read the fifth one, because it’s been published for years now and is there waiting for me, and then I guess I’ll just join everyone else in waiting impatiently for the next few volumes. I’m not giving up on George R.R. Martin’s story – at least, not yet.

Sometimes I do feel as though I’m missing out by seeing only pictures and snippets from the show. I know all the major events that have happened thus far because A) a lot of my friends still watch the show and B) social media is dark and full of spoilers, and I do kind of miss seeing those events within the larger context of the show.

Also, Margaery and Sansa and Yara and Cersei and Brienne. I miss them. But I also know that I would end up getting frustrated by how their respective story arcs have been handled, and then I’d be left muttering angrily at my computer screen, and what’s the point of putting myself through all that?

More than anything, it just feels weird to quit a TV show. I haven’t quit many because I don’t watch that much TV. I have nothing against TV, but it tends to attract me less than other mediums such as books, movies, or webseries. And it typically takes me FOREVER to watch a show from start to finish – I’m currently guilty of this with Daredevil. I put my TV-watching habits on hold for months or more, only to eventually return to a show after I’ve finished my book or writing project or whatever else distracted me.

Honestly, if I remember correctly, I’ve only quit watching one TV show before: Sherlock. The difference is that I’ve been watching Game of Thrones since 2013, but I started and then stopped watching Sherlock within a period of less than two weeks. I binged the first three seasons, did not like what I’d gotten myself into, and backed out – almost as soon as I’d begun.

So quitting that show did not have the same effect on me as quitting Game of Thrones did. (Does?) It feels weird to not watch it on Sunday night or Monday morning and then talk about it with my friends and think through all the newly-formed and at times ridiculous fan theories. Honestly, it’s made me ponder the likelihood of quitting Doctor Who in the not-too-distance future. Because that’s another show that I’ve been watching for a few years and, although I am quite attached to it in some ways, I also have a lot of problems with it.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll return to Game of Thrones someday, after both the books and the show have drawn to a close. That doesn’t seem very likely from where I stand in the here and now, but it’s always a possibility, especially if the showrunners get their act together and drastically improve the quality of the writing.

What I do know is that I need to read A Dance with Dragons, and I want to pursue some new – new to me, that is – fantasy series and movies and shows as well. Sorry, Game of Thrones. We parted, and I don’t THINK I’ll be back any time soon, if at all, but… you weren’t worth my time anymore. I found other ways to spend that time.

About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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12 Responses to Why I Quit Watching “Game Of Thrones”

  1. Honestly I’m just keeping up with it via these guys http://www.fandomfollowing.com/?s=for+the+not+watch because they’re as sick of the show’s awfulness as I am, but with more determination and book knowledge. And reaction gifs.

  2. Heather says:

    I can totally get that. My parents and I stopped watching after season three, and I felt much the same way. There was a lot of superficial stuff that I was watching for, too, and when I started to think about any reasons that would carry a lot of meaning for me, personally, I couldn’t find any. It was sort of just a space-filler in my life with some interesting, but not necessarily significant, characters and plotlines. I don’t know. In the end, the show wasn’t for me. Still, I think it’s good that you’re still interested in finishing the books and being able to separate the two from one another, if there’s enough difference to make one worthwhile while the other is flawed.

    • nevillegirl says:

      The books are definitely flawed too, but I don’t think they’re nearly as problematic as the show. Plus, I find fans of the books to be much less obnoxious and more willing to be critical of the elements that, well, need criticizing.

  3. I haven’t watched Game of Thrones since the first few episodes because of these concerns, but the books are incredible.
    -insert obligatory revealed nipple here-

  4. matttblack42 says:

    (*sees that Engie has dropped Game of Thrones, and may perhaps be in need of another show to watch.*

    *casually mentions Orange is the New Black. No real reason, just decided to mention it.*)

    I too, had planned to give up Game of Thrones this season, mostly for the same reasons as you. But then I caved last week and now I’m all caught up. (I am weak.)

    But while season 5 was pretty terrible, I gotta say that so far season 6 has been a major improvement. It’s not perfect, and I may be speaking too soon, but it’s like the show-runners heard the criticisms of the past few seasons and decided to listen to them. There’s been less reliance on sexual violence and nudity to tell the story, and during the last episode, (you won’t believe this), not only did nobody die (not even a minor character!), but not a single boob was shown. I know, it’s crazy.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I was actually thinking about starting OITNB but then they pulled Bury Your Gays with Poussey and I’m not about that life lmao lmao lmao

      I’ve heard that the show has gotten better, but there’s still so much I’m uncomfortable with that I just can’t justify going back to it any time soon. :/ And wow, no boobs?! Unbelievable.

      Although I’m all for writers being willing to hear criticism. Still haven’t watched more than the first episode of S10 of Doctor Who since I’ve been so busy, but I’ve heard that it was Moffat’s best series yet, which is encouraging.

  5. Thomas says:

    Glad you’re setting healthful boundaries for yourself and what you want to watch! I do not intend to watch this series because I cannot stomach viewing gory violence, and I have also heard many complaints about the misogyny and the objectification within the TV series. It is sad that the TV show producers, from what I have heard, are using sensitive subjects like rape for ratings instead of delving deeper into the story as George R. R. Martin does in the books. Again, it makes me happy that you are deciding for yourself what you wish to consume – you are not obligated to anyone but yourself.

    • nevillegirl says:

      In the last year or so, I’ve been trying to be more discerning in what books I read, movies I watch, etc and have cut out some of the stuff that puts me in a bad mental health place… mostly I do this for stories with Bury Your Gays in them, but quitting GoT is still pretty high up there on the list of iffy media I’m glad I gave up on.

  6. I fully support your decision. I get the series on DVD through Netflix, so I was watching each season as it corresponded with whichever book I had finished. So now I’ve read far enough to watch Season 4 … but it has just been languishing on my queue. I keep bumping other things ahead of it. My husband, who watches with me, also seems fairly unenthusiastic about continuing. The same things that bug you bug me (especially the gratuitous boobs, good god), although I haven’t watched long enough to get to the storylines that start diverging from the books. Sansa’s rape sounds awful. The other reason I am reluctant to watch is all the violence — I can handle it in the books when I can sort of set the pace myself, but in the TV show I just feel assaulted by it. It’s exhausting being constantly on edge about whether I should keep my eyes open through a scene or not. It seems the showrunners are fully unacquainted with the fine art of implication when it comes to sex or violence.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Exactly! At least when reading, it’s easier to take a break since you can immediately put the book down. When watching, sometimes I’m trying to press pause but I don’t get to it fast enough and I see something that really bothers me. :/

      I read a post or article or something the other day about how the rape scenes, especially, are likely included because unfortunately a majority of people still don’t believe women who say they’ve been raped. From a storytelling point of view, it’s seen as necessary to depict the assault on screen to “prove” that it really did happen to her and that she’s not lying. 😦

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