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How I Totally Ruined Game of Thrones (For Some People)

With the 'Game of Thrones' prequel coming to the small screen, here are some spoilers that apply even to the new show.

Editor’s Note: Today HBO launches a prequel to the wildly popular series Game of Thrones. We’re very excited, but probably not as much as the author of this piece, who now has more episodes to ruin for more people. 


I’ve had April 14th circled on the calendar for some time. At 8 p.m. (central time) last Sunday, I was at my friend Kitty’s house for the first episode, with a big glass of wine on the coffee table. When those stirring cello notes of the Game of Thrones theme song began and we got our first of the new opening credit sequence—whirring cogs and flipping tiles that look like a Leonardo-da-Vinci-designed pinball game—we both began to dance. Well, before we danced we pretended we were playing the cello, the way Chuck Berry played the guitar. When all this hoopla was going on, her boyfriend walked through the living room and shook his head.

“Another reason I don’t like Game of Thrones,” he muttered before going out on the porch.

Kitty and I just laughed and carried on. My boundless enthusiasm has met with similar response before—from my kids. We watched six seasons together, but they bowed out of being my sofa mates after that. I tried not to take it personally, but it kind of was personal. 

Game of Thrones Spoilers—But Not the Kind You Think

“Just a few more weeks till Game of Thrones,” I exclaimed at dinner when the boys were home from college over Spring Break. 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, not long ago 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

The Sad Story of How I Ruined 'Game of Thrones' for My Kids | NextTribe

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister. Image: Helen Sloan/HBO

“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 Millennial would go near it. 

“You’re just making such a big deal about it, Mom,” Jeb said. 

That’s what happens when your kids go off to college. 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. 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 and Jon Snow don’t become the Power Couple of the Seven Kingdoms. These are the kinds of things that break a mother’s heart.

The Heroin Problem

The Sad Story of How I Ruined 'Game of Thrones' for My Kids | NextTribe

The amazing Danearys Targaryen. Image: Helen Sloan/HBO

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 1 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 like 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. 

Read More: The Shocking Hodel Family Secrets TNT Left Out of the Riveting ‘I Am the Night’

The Yo-Yo Ma Impersonation

The Sad Story of How I Ruined 'Game of Thrones' for My Kids | NextTribe

Hunk-a hunk-a Jon Snow. Image: Helen Sloan/HBO

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 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. 

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. When 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 go back to college. 

Luckily I’ve found someone to watch and goof with—until Kitty’s boyfriend kicks us out. 

Read More: A ‘Game of Thrones’ Tour That Unleashed My Over-The-Top Fangirl

A version of this article was originally published in July 2017.

By Jeannie Ralston


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