I’ve had July 16th circled on the calendar for some time. At 8 p.m. (central time) next Sunday, I’ll be on the sofa with a big glass of wine waiting for those stirring cello notes and a view of some spinning castle towers and whirring cogs that look like a Leonardo-da-Vinci-designed pinball game. Right beside me I hope will be my 18-year-old son, Jeb. We’ve watched all six seasons together, and it wouldn’t be the same without him by my side. But this year he may bow out.
We’ve watched all six seasons together, and it wouldn’t be the same without him by my side. But this year he may bow out.
“Just a few more weeks till Game of Thrones,” I exclaimed at dinner last month. Instead of a thumbs-up or a head nod, I got an eye roll, and Jeb’s not an eye-rolling guy. “What? Aren’t you excited?” I asked, stunned by his response. I mean, last year Jeb and I fell off the sofa in anguish at exactly the same time when we discovered the source of the name “Hodor.”
He merely shrugged. “Yeah, I don’t know,” he said.
The Facebook Analogy
“Maybe it’s like Facebook,” my husband volunteered. “Kids thought it was cool until all the parents started using it,” I don’t know where my husband gets this insight. He hates Facebook and any social media, and he laughs at Game of Thrones. But what he’s saying is that, for my sons at least, the show might be suffering from “The Geezer Touch,” which is what I call what happens to something’s coolness factor when older people embrace it. Look at “LOL,” for example. Now that everybody and their mother and grandmother use it (often without knowing what it stands for), no self-respecting millenial would go near it.
“You’re just making such a big deal about it, Mom,” Jeb said. “And I may have to work on Sunday nights anyway.”
That’s what happens when your kids go off to college for a year. They come back with these outrageous ideas of their own.
So that’s it. That’s what happens when your kids go off to college for a year. They come back with these outrageous ideas of their own. Like maybe Game of Thrones isn’t the greatest cultural event of the year. Maybe it doesn’t matter if the White Walkers take over Westeros. Maybe it doesn’t matter if Dany’s dragons scorch Jon Snow. These are the kinds of things that break a mother’s heart.
The Heroin Problem
I rarely allow myself to get hooked on a TV show. I’ve actively avoided The Sopranos, Mad Men and a string of other must-see TV because I know what will happen. I watch one episode, and I might as well be mainlining heroin. I’ll be sallow-eyed and shaky till my next hit. Who can live like that?
I didn’t mean to become a Game of Thrones junkie. Friends talked about it over the first three seasons, and I completely tuned them out. I heard them whispering frantically one day as they processed what I later learned was Red Wedding shock. Then my oldest son Gus began reading the books and loved them. Being the kind of mother who likes to encourage any interest of her kids, I bought him a DVD set of the first season for Christmas one year.
In my defense, I did stand in front of the TV whenever there was a Playboy channel interlude.
Because I had tuned out my friends’ comments, I had no idea what was in store for my then 16 and 14 year olds. You’d think I would have put an end to the whole business in episode one when we saw Jaime and Cersei having incestuous doggy-style sex on the floor of a castle tower. In my defense to the Bad-Mom Squad out there, I did stand in front of the TV whenever there was a Playboy channel interlude, which probably just enticed them to re-watch later without me.
But there was so much backdoor sex in the first couple of seasons that I did feel the need at one point to tell my boys, “Don’t get the idea that this is the way women prefer sex!” My husband overheard this and said that my comment proved this was not a good show for teenage boys to be watching. His disdain for all things Game of Thrones stems from this.
The Yo-Yo Ma Impersonation
But I didn’t put a stop to anything because the opioid effect was instantaneous. I mean, Bran out the window? How could I have turned away after that?
We watched the first three seasons on DVD, and then we were ready for Season Four in real time. Oh, the conversations we’ve had about dire wolves, smoke babies, Jon Snow’s parentage, and the Clegane Bowl. Oh, the watch-checking I have done every Sunday over the past three springs.
Lately I’ve greeted every new episode the same way. I jump up and dance to the theme song and pretend like I’m Yo-Yo Ma when the cello bursts entered. I think this might have been the beginning of my boys’ disenchantment. They’d yell at me to sit down so I started dancing behind the sofa where they couldn’t see me. Recently, when I told a fellow Thrones-crazed friend about my dancing, she said, “Well that might have turned me off the show too.” Guess I won’t be watching with her.
I think the dancing might have been the beginning of my boys’ disenchantment.
After each episode, I took to the computer and read every recap, every written word of speculation on what the Sand Snakes could mean for the future of the realm. I found a podcast called baldmove.com that would dissect the plot and the prospects of each character even further. I listened to the instant-take discussion on Mondays as well as the longer, spoiler-filled one on Tuesdays. Once when my oldest son Gus saw what was on my phone—the Game of Thrones logo and the name of the podcast—he shook his head sadly. “You’re a Game of Thrones nerd, mom,” he said.
The Game of Thrones Backlash
I’ve already lost Gus as a Game of Thrones watching buddy. Gus was at college last spring during the Season Six run; that meant just Jeb and me on the sofa. Now Gus is at a summer internship in California. To be honest, he might have chosen not to watch with me anyhow. Before he left for his job, he saw me run in the house after a trip to the grocery store waving an Entertainment Weekly cover story on Jon Snow. His eyes told me that, yeah, he was ready to head west.
So I might be watching alone. Unless someone wants to hang out on the phone during the episode. You won’t have to see me dancing.