Hello everyone, and welcome back!
This post will have some spoilers for Game of Thrones (not recent episodes!) and A Song of Ice and Fire.
It’s that time of year again: the time when everyone has been buzzing for weeks about what’s happening on Game of Thrones, and I’m just kind of like, “Okay.” (…other than when I’m filling in names of characters that people forget.)
Game of Thrones is what got me into the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but I stopped watching it at a certain point because I just felt like its adaptational decisions were bothering me too much. Because I get a lot of pushback about that, always, all of the time, I thought it’d be kind of fun (well, cathartic, anyway) to put some of those reasons out there.
If you dig the show, I’m happy for you and this isn’t an attack, by any means! (I also know plenty of show watchers who are critical of some decisions but have fun watching, which, so legit.) But as a book reader invested in certain characters, it’s so, so hard to reconcile myself with the show. Here are a few (definitely, definitely not all) of my reasons:
The Jaime/Cersei rape scene + Jaime’s utter lack of redemption arc
It’s funny to be listing this first, because I’m really not the fan of Jaime that a lot of book readers are. I see his redemption arc and I enjoy that it’s going on, but I’m not as invested in his character as others, so I’m more or less, “Well, good on you, you still threw a kid out a window, though” about it.
But this is actually the point at which I decided I was done watching the show. It really wasn’t the first breaking point, because I found there was a lot of needless on-screen sexual violence for shock value up until then (plenty of people have written about this, so you don’t need me to get into it, but Google Ros for a starting point).
But having this scene make the cut and then seeing the show still try to portray Jaime as a good guy, especially when Cersei at that point had been kind of softened to be not as bad a person (her murdering of children passed on to Joffrey and the implication that she tried to make the best, initially, of an abusive relationship), was just way too much. The Jaime/Cersei relationship in the books is twisted, sure, but it’s always enthusiastically consensual.
And after this in the show, Jaime doesn’t break away from Cersei as he does in the books, but just continues to do what she says more or less as everything burns the heck down? Um, okay. What a lovable, child-attempted-murdering rapist massacre-enabling good guy?
Sansa decides to marry Ramsay Bolton
…aaaand this is why I was never tempted to go back.
Sansa is one of my favourite characters in the books. One of the things I love about her is that she’s smart; she learns. (“My skin has turned to porcelain, to ivory, to steel.” My girl. <3) She learns to lie and choose her moves carefully. She knows to keep herself out of harm’s way and she’s following along with Littlefinger’s plans, yes, but they tend to be for her benefit. (In the books, she’s still in disguise as Littlefinger’s daughter and is courting the next heir of the Vale, after her cousin.)
So when Littlefinger is like, “Oh hey, you should marry this really horrifying guy whose family killed your whole family, FOR REASONS” and Sansa is like, “Yeah, that’s a thing that I should do, also publicly as myself!”—well, reader, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. That’s so incredibly stupid. It only goes terribly for her. She gains, so far as I can tell, nothing. Some information, I guess? Theon’s sympathy? I guess if you see it from LF’s perspective, he was maybe trying to break Sansa down so he could rescue her and be her hero again? But he doesn’t, really, and I can’t imagine His Creepiness willingly giving up his precious not-Cat to another man without using it as a way to “climb the ladder” and get back with her. And this helped those aims in no way.
I mean, also just in general, the show seems to have no idea what to do with Sansa Stark, and when someone the show doesn’t “get” is one of your favourite characters, it’s pretty rough. Speaking of…
What was even Stannis on Game of Thrones
I try to be more articulate than this, but come on. What was Stannis, even.
The books depict an atheist who uses Melisandre and her strange powers as a tool, a lawful, stubborn man who yet knows to listen to good counsel (Davos and Jon Snow, usually). He’s a fine strategist, tough as nails, and a much larger threat than most other throne claimants by the reckoning of those such as Tywin, even with his lack of support.
He’s also the guy who saves the day (and possibly the realm) by showing up to the Wall just in time, because he is the only king who receives their message and actually cares (of course thanks to Davos, but yeah). The Iron Bank comes to treat with him because they see him as an avenue for the debts of the crown to actually be repaid. (He’s also, though not very charismatic, pleasingly sarcastic.) He’s not unproblematic or strictly heroic, but he is just, and he makes it a priority to stop the White Walkers and help Jon Snow in general.
The show depicts a religious fanatic who burns a lot of people for increasingly ridiculous reasons until he burns his own heir (?!). No one takes him seriously in the slightest, except himself. He mostly sits around brooding? His day-saving at the Wall happens, but it’s pretty muted (and feels belated, leading to many memes) and it’s about his only positive moment I can remember on the show that wasn’t just Davos’ PR. He loses some battles spectacularly and dies an utter villain.
In the released The Winds of Winter chapter, Stannis is departing for a dangerous battle and demands that his daughter’s claim to the throne be supported should he die. This is not a character I can imagine burning his own child to get rid of some snow. (If he does, I will eat my shoe.) What in all seven hells. I guess the show creators didn’t like or get Stannis, but man, what a way to lay him low.
There’s Room in the Special Effects Budget for Dragons, but Not This Guy:
I’m not going to go on about it, but the direwolves got totally dogged. (Haha, get it? Okay, I’ll leave.)
(…but seriously, more of them are dead on the show and the ones who are alive get to do basically nothing; even from just a show perspective, it’s pretty much a letdown from the foreshadowing of their importance in the first season, okay I’m stopping.)
Is there any show or movie you just can’t get into because of how it’s different from the book? Are you also really sad because no puppies? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll speak to you again soon!