The 5 Different Game of Thrones Fans
Game of Thrones is a once in a generation show. It has found a way to bridge the gap between hard core nerds and people who would rather watch even a Division III high school football game than any show that involves magic. But anyone who has ever been to a Game of Thrones watch party or discussed the show with a large group over dinner knows that not all fans are created equally. Allow me to break down the 5 essential tiers of Game of Thrones fans you are encountering during these gatherings:
Tier 1: Book & TV Show Analyst
The irony of me writing this post as the authority on tiers of GoT watchers is that I am NOT in tier 1. As I am constantly reminded by my book reading friends, I have not flipped through the dozens of points of view outlining the incredibly detailed world of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Apparently this means I am not allowed to weigh in on what aspects of Yara and Euron Greyjoy’s show characters are derivative of their uncle Victarion from the books. The Kingsmoot must be nothing more than a dick conversation to me, rather than a serious consideration for an elected official. Having said that, you cannot simply absorb the yarns of Strong Belwas, Trystane Martell, and Young Griff to have a free pass into this top tier. This tier requires the ability to discuss key differences in THEMES between the show and the books, critical analysis of where the show has gone and how you believe GRRM will differ when he finishes the books, and legitimate perspective on what worked in the show vs the book and vice versa. You are also not allowed to be a douche and refer to Edd as Delores Edd, or Yara as Asha. We get it, you read the books. You are not using too much brain power to learn the show and book names of the same character.*
Tier 2: TV Show Analyst
Nothing too groundbreakingly different in this tier besides the lack of book reading. Even if you are like me and you’ve scoured the wiki pages for A Song of Ice and Fire, learned the ins and outs of the Blackfyre Rebellions, the wavering allegiances of Brown Ben Plum, and the conspiracy theories about the Pink Letter, it is not enough to get past the curtain into first class GoT watching tiers. You still need to know every character’s name if they have appeared in more than 1 episode. You must have a thorough knowledge of the Westeros and Essos maps. The responsibility will ultimately fall on tier 2’s to coordinate Game of Thrones death pools* and answer the questions of some of the lower tier viewers. Being a show specific tier, analysis of common Movie/TV tropes is in order*. For example, s7 ep1’s hero shot of Daenerys is not to be overlooked as it pertains to the end game. GoT has a reputation for pulling the rug out from beneath us, but there is a big difference between Robb Stark talking about his child and a 5 minute, dialogue-free triumph shot of Daenerys arriving at Dragonstone.
Tier 3: Game of Thrones is on!
Here is your average Game of Thrones fan. Fans in this tier make Sundays at 9pm appointment viewing. They have a list in their head of characters they like and do not like. They have takes on the more complex characters like Jamie Lannister, with reasons why they like him and why they do not. They ponder who the best fighter in Westeros may be*. Tier 3 viewers are engaged, but might not go as far as to question the direction of the show. They see teenager Arya Stark violently murdering people and cheer for it, not considering the mental toll this has taken on her and what it could mean for her future*. Nevertheless it is an absolute joy to watch GoT with Tier 3’s. They are active viewers throughout the hour and take part in the post-show conversation about theories, critiques, and they ask good questions to spark conversation and sharpen the knowledge of tier 1’s and 2’s.
Tier 4: The Dad Tier
“I’m not sure who was directly responsible for killing him, but I suspect Tommy Carcetti was involved somehow.” This is a legendary quote from my own father in response to the Purple Wedding episode in season 4. He is taking Littlefinger and referring to him by actor Aiden Gillen’s other role in HBO’s The Wire, mayor Tommy Carcetti. As funny as I personally find this line, it is actually one of the more insightful Dad comments. He is accurately suspecting the involved character, despite him not being in the scene at all. My Dad is unique in this regard because of his knowledge of other movies and TV. The common comment of common fans is not knowing any character names. Dad has this down. Jorah is The Guy From Downton Abbey. Ned Stark is Sean Bean. Jamie Lannister is The Guy Who Sleeps With His Sister. Sansa Stark is Your Cousin Ellen. In fact, if you know more than 10 actual character names, then you are a failure as a father. Let us again consider how unique this show is. Dad’s do not like magic and dragons, yet my best friend’s 60 year old lawyer father, who starts every morning with a full Wall Street Journal(in print form), tunes in to Game of Thrones on Sunday nights.
Tier 5: Game of Phones
We come to the final tier. While Dad’s may ask questions like “which one is Stannis again?”, nothing compares to the people in this tier. These people are more likely to come away from a GoT episode with something fucking hilarious their friend Storied the night before, a new hot insta chick, or a great meme, rather than anything non-dragon related that actually happened on the show. The attention split between the phone and the TV screen is approximately 85/15 throughout the hour. In the case of s7 ep2, the phone goes away for the Grey Worm/Missandei sex(?) scene, but when Jon contemplates whether or not to go South, given the history of his people with the Targaryens, a Tier 5 is only contemplating whether to swipe left or right. Silver Lining: they usually keep quiet and to themselves during the hour, with only the brightness of their phone possibly bothering you. However, there are those moments when a tier 5 unleashes their own dragon in the fighting pits. A key conversation is happening. A character is about to make a decision. You lean forward for the dramatic conclusion to the exchange. Then out of nowhere a phone is flashed in front of your face. “Check out how SAVAGE my response was to this girl’s text!”
Which Tier do you belong to?
Extra Thoughts(Spoilers Follow):
*Using a character’s book name while talking about the show really is the cheapest way to flaunt that you have read ASOIAF. You may as well wear one of the books on your head as a hat like Peter Griffin. The examples are countless: Dani, Euron Crow’s Eye, The 3-eyed Crow, Robert Strong, Sweetrobin, The Others, etc. There is nothing cool about referring to characters by their different book names. You are only confusing the already confused lower tier viewers.
*I acted as Maester/Hand/Small Council to a friend in a death pool. We have big money riding on Littlefinger. So far his death seems certain less because of evil doings, and more because he has absolutely nothing to do up North. We also need Tormund, but Tormund and Bronn seem like the weirdest form of untouchable on the show. The gritty veterans who are good at heart and have main character adjacency as a form of plot armor.
*Jon and Tyrion perform the classic mean, super serious meeting on Dragonstone, only to then smile at each other like best friends. You may recognize this as the Han Solo/Lando Cloud City greeting. It is amazing how seldom this happens to me in the real world with my friends.
*Best Fighter in Westeros/Essos: We have now been treated to the most ridiculous fan service scene in the 7 seasons of Game of Thrones, when Arya went toe-to-toe with Brienne. I think I will do an addendum to this piece breaking down that fight and how absurd it was, particularly in the context of the episode. Nevertheless, my rankings are as follows: Brienne, Arya, Jon Snow, Daario, Bronn in that order. I may not agree with the pedestal on which Arya has been put, but if we are taking the show as evidence, she would be way too fast for any of these competitors. I only give Brienne the edge because she was taking it easy at first on a Lady, and she had a practice sword.
*Arya is a severly messed-up person. The fact that she is only killing people who deserve to die should barely make a difference. She is drinking in every moment of their deaths, including graphically violent and blood-ridden kills in the examples of Meryn Trant and Walder Frey. She acts incredibly cold around Hot Pie, who should bring a smile to everyone’s face. Prior to s7 ep4 I would have guaranteed that the mental toll of the things she has done will eventually come to affect her greatly, but after we hear not a single word about her dead brothers and instead cut to her happily fighting Brienne, I am not so sure the writers see her character as anything besides a superhero.