Image description: “Direwolves” – an acrylic painting by Marietta Kosma
Game of Thrones premiered in 2011, ten years ago, yet it remains one of the most popular shows in the cultural imaginary. Even though it portrays fantasy worlds of the medieval era, it conveys realism through the employment of violence, graphic sex and its unconventional ending. What is interesting about Game of Thrones is that while its narrative is so realistic it provides viewers the opportunity to imagine alternate possible worlds.
Few TV series’ endings have received such a strong reaction as Game Of Thrones. Two years ago, millions of viewers tuned in one last time to watch their favorite show, with high expectations of what the ending would be like. After watching the series finale, which aired for the first time two years ago, fans –including myself- were wondering how could they have invested such a valuable part their life watching the series every week and to then witness such ending.
In the last episode of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen, who had a relationship with Jon Snow, gets murdered by her very own partner right before ascending to the throne. It is quite ironic that Daenerys dies in the throne room, literally some inches away from the Iron Throne, the particular throne which she wanted her whole life. Daenerys is picked up by her dragon, Drogon, of whom she is the mother. Drogon flies away while holding his mother.
The ending of Game Of Thrones disrupts the trope of the “happily-ever-after” ending, going against all conventions. After all, a happily ever-after ending would not be realistic.
Personally I interpret the ending as a challenge to sex and gender hierarchies, as the series questions the institutions that prevent certain kinds of relationships from happening, marking them as illegitimate. If there was an alternative ending postulating a happy ending for Daenerys’s and Jon’s relationship, the cultural standards that made them seem like an unlikely pair, the incest taboo, would not have been challenged as they were brother and sister. Is it acceptable for Daenerys and Jon to be a couple because they were not raised as a family? It is difficult to answer such a question. What if there was a world where every woman could be an agent of her own desires and could ascend to her throne? Wouldn’t that be liberating? These suppositions however go against the premises of Game of Thrones,as women are lacking financial independence and have a difficulty establishing their legal status. The ending of Game Of Thrones disrupts the trope of the “happily-ever-after” ending, going against all conventions. After all, a happily ever-after ending would not be realistic.
In conclusion, it is not only the time investment but also the emotional investment in the show that makes its finale so important. I personally felt downright betrayed with the show’s ending. What we all seek is not necessarily a “happily ever after” ending. As viewers, we invest a considerable amount of time and energy in watching a TV series, therefore we desire some kind of closure. In any case, it is comforting to think about the show years after it has been aired and be nostalgic about the feelings that it has imparted on our psyche.
Image Credit: Marietta Kosma