Why I don't watch "Game of Thrones" and other popular TV shows
I don’t watch Game of Thrones — and that’s not the only mega-popular show I’ve decided to skip. Despite what you might think, it’s not because I have some inherent distaste for things that are popular. Actually, I’m a pretty normal adult person who consumes mainstream art and culture at every available opportunity. Off the top of my head, I can pinpoint several instances where I went out of my way to immerse myself in the big pop culture thing of the moment — such as securing perfectly-centered front row seats to the Entourage movie on opening night, or watching The Backstreet Boys perform their ’90s hits at the Hollywood Bowl. But when it comes to television, I’m slower than the rest. More than that, I’m picky.
Before I go into my feelings about all the celebrated TV I don’t watch, anyone who knows me well will testify that I’m a forever fan of Friends, and an advocate of other sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Ricky Gervais’s Extras is one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, hands down. My current obsession is Silicon Valley (and incidentally, I think that the character of Jarod deserves his own one-man show). With the exception of being a die-hard Breaking Bad enthusiast, I get my kicks from comedy. And this brings me to Game of Thrones: a show that somehow transcends all genre-preferences to appeal on a mass scale. Specifically, those who don’t have a particular affinity for fantasy make up a huge percentage of devoted Game of Thrones followers.
My philosophy is that I’ll try anything once (well, not anything, but many things), so I did watch the Game of Thrones pilot. I even watched subsequent episodes, and tried to decipher the various family trees of the Lannisters, Baratheons, and Starks. Ultimately, I decided to give up on Game of Thrones not because the story fell flat, or because the fantastical elements were too much to bare, or because the characters weren’t well-realized. My problem with Game of Thrones was that there were too many characters. And since they all die, I don’t know who to care about! Then there’s the fact that preparing for Game of Thrones every week is an investment. For instance, I’ve noticed that my friends re-watch previous episodes to ensure the latest conflict remains fresh in their minds. That’s all well and good — admirable, really — but I don’t have the patience for that. I want to enjoy one hour of television, not ten hours of complicated twists and turns that require my undivided attention (after which I might still be confused).
On a similar note, I don’t watch Veep — because I don’t have any affection for political humor. I’ll happily admit that humor of the political sort often goes over my head, perhaps because I lack emotion for politics in general. This also accounts for the reason why I don’t watch The Good Wife, even though Julianna Margulies is one of my favorite actresses.
Having said all this, I am 100% certain that Game of Thrones, Veep, The Good Wife, and other TV shows that I don’t watch, are all top-tier shows. In particular, Game of Thrones feels ahead of its time; something the world will be talking about rigorously in years to come. And it’s possible that by then, I will have seen it in its entirety. Perhaps I’ll even be writing a follow-up essay where I aggressively challenge the pitfalls of my younger self.
But right now, today, this moment, I’m comfortable being that peculiar person who arrives fashionably late to certain trends in pop culture. While it may seem like I’m opting out of a critical conversation, I still keep one foot in the game. Just because I don’t watch Game of Thrones, doesn’t mean I don’t take notice of the latest articles that are written about Jon Snow, or listen to my girlfriend and various friends when they speak passionately about the show. I’m still a participant in the cultural scene, but I’m secure in myself and my own taste and I’m not tempted to actively pursue things that aren’t my speed.