“There are winged beasts, but Game of Thrones is deeply rooted in how we live”

Grace Dent shares her thoughts on why it's not too late to start Game of Thrones from Season One

Friday 04 March 2016 18:05 GMT
Ned Stark
Ned Stark (HBO)

“When a friend confesses they’ve never seen Game of Thrones, I feel a sharp jolt of envy and frustration. Oh, to start again, with fresh eyes, from the beginning! They’ve never seen Cersei Lannister’s sublime haughty gaze. Or The Wall in all its hulking, snow-covered glory. They’ve never hummed triumphantly along to the theme tune. Or seen a dire wolf cub. They have never fumed as tiny golden-haired Daenerys Targaryen is married off to a grunting, horse-obsessed thug.

If you’ve missed the show until now, you won’t know this all-consuming world at all. Although, I wonder if it’s the notion of Game of Thrones as a ‘world’ that stops those last few fans of high-grade TV from dipping their toes in. Because this is fantasy genre, right? It’s about imps and dragons in a land far, far away. Not your cup of tea at all.

Grace Dent
Grace Dent

I remember feeling exactly this way when I began episode one. I was sure – despite the exceptionally strong trailer where a rugged Sean Bean beheaded a traitor – that here was the sort of telly I tend to flick past.

I didn’t have time for imaginary worlds. I love stuff like The Sopranos, Mad Men and The Tunnel. I love Lena Dunham’s Girls and my top TV show ever is funeral home saga Six Feet Under. I’m a woman who likes gritty reality and the blackest of humour. Not spells and made-up spooks. I ate those words, quickly. Season One of Game of Thrones was TV like none I’d seen before.

Here was a show where the women – Cersei, Catelyn Stark, Arya Stark – were not compliant, pretty screen filler but instead complex, warlike and ever zinging with the greatest of lines.

There were battles and bloodshed, but also gay knights, sibling love affairs and drunken kings who weren’t much suited to being kingly. No goody was wholly angelic. Each baddy had a bewitchingly-likeable quirk.

And bigger than all that, there was something terrifying out there in the wilderness that was potentially en route to wipe out them all. I was hooked hopelessly on Game of Thrones. Season One, quite simply, is about the heinous things humans do for power.

Robb and Bran with their dire wolves
Robb and Bran with their dire wolves (HBO)

It is about family, loyalty and the all-consuming nature of a grudge. It is about gaining power, but also the heady chore of keeping it. Game of Thrones may be fantasy – and yes there are winged beasts and there is witchcraft – but it’s deeply rooted in how we live now. Miss it and miss out, I say. Do yourself a favour: close the blinds, switch your phone off and start Season One from the beginning.”

Every episode of Game of Thrones available now. Exclusively on Sky Box Sets.

Images: ©2016 Home Box Office, Inc. All rights reserved. HBO® and all related programs are the property of Home Box Office, Inc.

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