Climate change, #MeToo and Game of Thrones

Mother of dragons: “The whole show is just a discussion on power,” said actress Emilia Clarke.

Blood. Ice. Death. Fire. Revenge. Last night, after eight years on our screens, the epic fantasy series finally reached its end. But what was Game of Thrones really about?

(Warning: spoilers for season eight, but not for the finale.)

Last night, Game of Thrones aired its final 80 minutes of television.

Regardless of how you feel about the ending, the show has changed television. The final season cost a record-breaking $15 million per episode. It has millions of viewers worldwide. Its success sparked a boom in big-budget shows, with large casts and complex plots.

Game of Thrones also changed the way that fantasy TV treats women. Heroes or villains, the female characters are often stronger and smarter than the men around them.

This season in particular has put women right at its centre. First Arya Stark slayed the Night King. Then Daenyrys Targaryen burned a city alive.

The show is based on books by George R. R. Martin, who based his stories on the Wars of the Roses. But for all the power struggles in Westeros, he says there is one issue that trumps them all.

“The people in Westeros are fighting their individual battles,” he told The New York Times last year. “And those are so distracting that they’re ignoring the threat of ‘winter is coming’, which has the potential to destroy all of them.”

Was Game of Thrones a story about climate change all along?

You know nothing?

The parallels are obvious. The arrival of winter threatens everyone in Westeros. And yet its leaders ignore the problem. On Earth we are fighting over important issues but, according to Martin, “None of them are important if, like, we’re dead and our cities are under the ocean.”

If that is true, why were the White Walkers defeated so early in season eight? Game of Thrones is a story about people — especially women — dealing with the trauma of the past. Suffering makes some of them, like Arya, stronger. For others, like Daenyrys, it makes them snap. But its consequences cannot be ignored.

You Decide

  1. Was Game of Thrones sexist?

Activities

  1. Finish this sentence: “Game of Thrones is a show about…”

Some People Say...

“We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”

George R. R. Martin, A Game Of Thrones

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Game Of Thrones is based on George R. R. Martin’s series of novels A Song of Ice and Fire. The series is unfinished; there are still at least two more books to go. This means that the final seasons of the TV show may end differently to the novels.
What do we not know?
When the final novels in the series will be published, or how Martin feels about the way the TV show has ended.

Word Watch

Boom
When Game of Thrones first aired in 2011, the US had 266 scripted TV shows; in 2018, there were 495.
Wars of the Roses
A series of wars in England’s history between 1455 and 1485. It was a fight for the country’s throne between the two houses of Lancaster and York (or, in Game of Thrones, Lannister and Stark).
Westeros
The fictional continent where the action takes place.
Climate change
Last year, the UN warned that Earth has just 12 years to stop a climate “catastrophe”.
White Walkers
Icy, zombie-like creatures intent on killing humans.

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