How to Carry on Watching Game of Thrones After a Breakup
Firstly, let’s all congratulate me on the cheesiest post title I’ve ever written; shamelessly topical with a smattering of poor me. But that’s not really what I’m aiming for of course. I wanted to write about something that I’m embarrassed to admit I struggle with and how I deal with it. So here it is; how to move forwards after a breakup in this new world of stupidly binge-worthy TV.
Nexflixing and chilling
Now, I’m not a total TV slug by nature, given the choice I’m far more about the outdoors, the experiences, the doing of things with people, preferably even facing them. And if I’m inside I’m less screens, more log fires, vinyl and moderate boozing. In fact, I only found out recently that Netflix & Chill doesn’t actually mean get your box set out and take a load off. Well, it kind of does. But even I’m seduced by the sheer quantity of high quality TV that has blasted onto our various streaming devices over the past five years or so. Moreover, if I’m with a significant other then there’s something deeply comforting about getting into your comfiest clothes, spooning on the sofa with a bag of popcorn and escaping together into a fictional world that you discovered together, sometimes for half an hour until you both give up and and stop fighting the tired eyes, or for a post pie and mash Sunday afternoon binge. However much I rally against the slob culture, I’m happy to be sucked in every once in a while when it comes with dragons, zombies, massages and wine on a school night.
When somebody shouts ‘CUT!’
But when D-day comes and the relationship has been canned (in my case, after just the first season, although I must admit, there are some wonderful memories from the pilot episode) there comes a moment, once the dust has settled, that the supportive friends need a break from repeatedly saying everything will be OK and giving you wine, that you’re pretty bushed from ‘keeping busy’ and in my case, the kids are at their mums, that it’s just me, the dog, and the TV. It’s got to happen sometime, right? Might as well suck it up and escape back into one of those fantastical worlds full of cathartic drama that has been the standard busy day reward for crikey knows how long. Relationships we’ve watched evolve over 6 seasons, a cliff-hanger plot to catch up with, stunning locations – just the ticket to get the head out of the thought bag for a while, surely.
It isn’t. Let me tell you about me, Game of Thrones and some girlfriends. Sorry, Ex girlfriends.
I came to the GoT party pretty late. About two seasons in. Giving in to the all the hype and recommendations, I decided to give it a whirl. Or I should say ‘we’ decided to crank it up, as a TV team. This all went very well in fact, we decided, much like the rest of the planet, that GoT was ruddy marvellous and managed to get all the way to season 5 before the scriptwriters of our relationship started turning out some shoddy work and we weren’t renewed. I stopped watching right then and there. I felt a little like I was cheating by heading back to Westeros by myself. I tried, in fact I downloaded the entire season 6, intending to watch it, but didn’t get past the 3rd or 4th episode. Not least because there was no-one there to explain to me what was going on at any particular plot point, but also because it felt a little flat not sharing it. I’m a sharer. I’m the same with sunsets. It may be beautiful but it’s better together. So I left it there.
Getting back on the sofa
I met someone else eventually and of course we started to develop some sofa based TV schedules and found a few new shows of our own; I particularly liked the C4 comedy, Catastrophe, about a couple thrown together by a one night stand based pregnancy who somehow seem to make it work. Won’t be watching that again; I enjoyed it.
I broached the Game of Thrones question, testing the water – maybe I’d found someone to travel back to Westeros with. I certainly hoped so, it had been too long and Facebook was ON FIRE with excited dragon chat. She was completely down with the idea, no doubt having left there herself under similar circumstances, only she was somewhere back at the end of season 5. Around where the guy I reminded her of had his eyes gouged out. It wasn’t easy but we made it. She caught up and suddenly we were hanging out in Westeros together. With Popcorn, G&T and rubs. Ace.
Parking the popcorn once again
Now, while the show was getting more and more epic, we weren’t. Our writers were on strike and I felt like an extra who figured out he was not going to get the speaking role he thought he was destined for. We only made it to episode 5. That’s right, two from the end, according to Facebook that was where things were going to get uber rad. But that’s when the director yelled cut and the popcorn was put quietly back into the pantry; the sweet and salty one that we met in the middle with.
It’s only telly of course; far too much ‘keeping busy’ to be done and being reminded of the inevitable alrightness that one will be once time has done some sort of healing trick to be worrying about what’s on the box. Westeros isn’t going anywhere; it’s me that’s riding out from that fictional landscape into a real sunset.
Obviously I thought about it, I mean, TWO apparently stellar episodes from the end, surely I could conquer that. That’s a far better way to spend an evening alone than fighting the urge to crank up Tinder and a box of Malbec? I thought about drafting in a sub GF just to get through the last two episodes, unfortunately there’s not an app for that. But the rub was in the details as usual. TV Journeys taken together are often more than just the moving pictures. Sometimes they break your own personal fourth wall and spill sharp memories into your lap. You see, we’d got a holiday booked and paid for to Essaouira, a Moroccan coastal town used as the location for the city of Astapor where the dragon queen (that strong independent woman, going it alone) met her unsullied army (those poor eunuch soldiers, ‘freed’ to further her ambitions). We paused and rewound various episodes, looking for the very places we’d soon be visiting together. Happy geeks.
Of course, that location had now been struck from my list of things to look forward to. I wouldn’t be listening to the constant requests for knees to be bent and following the actual plot, I’d just be pining over the windy locales and wondering who will be wandering the streets of Astapor in my stead (sure, they may not even go back there in episode 6, but it all looks a bit Moroccan to me). And with that, GoT gets consigned to the ‘I just can’t do it’ pile. It’s not just TV anymore, it’s a hot memory. I’ll need to wait for it to mellow and become an old story instead. I’ll head back there one day, maybe alone and ‘alright’, maybe with a new travel companion.
Don’t worry, everybody else is having a great time
The good news is, according to Facebook lots of couples are perfectly happy, even the ones who are dying inside and clawing each others eyes out when the phones are put away and the social media highlight reel of their lives have been parked for the night, so they can happily saunter through endless seasons of binge-worthy box sets without fear of a penultimate episode breakup to throw a spanner in the works.
In the last decade or so TV quality has gone to another level, the quality of the production, the writing, the performances are all so vastly superior to the A-Team and Nightrider. Unfortunately, relationships are still inevitably really bloody awful to deal with when they end (and often when they don’t). And yet both are entwined in an eternal tango that we are all destined to fall foul of sooner or later.
My advice is to stick to single season fare, the new stuff, at least during the honeymoon period. Just don’t commit too soon to the seven season epics unless you’re fully prepared to give it all up. You may be OK, you may be able to dive straight back in, I’m not suggesting everyone is a massive bag of fanny like me but just be cautious, especially if it’s got an IDBM rating of 8 and above and your other half is twitchy at best. This is post breakup box set preventative maintenance 101. Maybe don’t forget to throw in a few log fires, some music and some good old flirty chit chat between seasons and you’ll be just fine. You never really know if you’re going to get renewed for another season, life is like that. This time my viewing figures and ratings just weren’t high enough. Maybe it was just a casting issue.
So if you’re an insanely hot young lady who has yet to catch the last two episodes of GoT, drop me a line. Auditions are soon. Don’t hang about though, my agent reckons I’m in demand. Or is that on demand? 😉
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