By Clara Spars
Before I get a barrage of angry emails: There are absolutely no spoilers included in this article.
It was only during this last year that I hopped onto the “Game of Thrones” bandwagon, and it only took this last year for me to obsessively consume all 67 episodes of the first through seventh seasons. Now, upon the long-awaited release of the eighth season, I am finally able to take part in the excitement and anticipation shared by viewers across the country at the steady pace of the weekly episode releases.
The days of being haunted by obscure references that I don’t understand are long over. I now know all there is to know about the elaborate family trees, the shocking plot twists, the expected and unexpected deaths of characters I’ve come to love or despise. I can jump in when friends around me discuss their latest conspiracy theories and have even begun to formulate a number of my own.
Over the past month, “Game of Thrones” has operated as the heart rate-spiking form of a cleansing ritual at the start of each week. Tensions build up over the weekdays as students navigate their coursework and simultaneously flesh out their most recent conjectures over who will take the Iron Throne. When Sunday night comes around, there is nothing more satisfying than alleviating all the itchy anticipation (and occasional anxiety) over the latest developments in the riveting fight for rule. What better way to do so than with an assemblage of squirming friends that you must inevitably yell at to quiet down when they react to shocking scenes or complain about the screen brightness being too low!
The process of staying up to speed with the show can even make awkward bouts of small talk somewhat more bearable, given that most of the population appears to be well-versed in the happenings of the Seven Kingdoms. Rather than the usual, “How are you,” “Fine,” “Let’s get lunch” progression of interaction, students can simply throw out a “WHOA! Daenerys, am I right?” More often than not, they’ll be answered with intricate musings over the fate of the kingdom and all of its inhabitants — just enough time to be considered an extensive enough conversation for you to be on your way to your next class or meeting.
What is most comforting about the weekly phenomenon of huddling around whomever’s laptop contains a functioning HBO account is the way it brings people together — even if it is only for hour-and-a-half-long stretches during which six people are squeezed onto a twin bed.
With only one episode of the last season left, viewers all over are buzzing with frenzy over how the series will come to an end. In spite of this, there is a definite sadness that comes with the inevitable denouement of a long-running adventure. While there may be no more guesses about future twists, I have learned the value of finding a shared interest for all to look forward to with each passing week — something that we can talk about, grow excited over, come together for. “Game of Thrones,” like many other TV series, has created a culture of its own. I look forward to the next narrative that can draw as much emotion and energy as this one did.
Contact Clara Spars at cspars ‘at’ stanford.edu.