Game of Thrones

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Game of Thrones

Students participate in watching Game of Thrones in a variety of ways.

Students participate in watching Game of Thrones in a variety of ways.

Photo courtesy of PCMag.com

Students participate in watching Game of Thrones in a variety of ways.

Photo courtesy of PCMag.com

Photo courtesy of PCMag.com

Students participate in watching Game of Thrones in a variety of ways.

Hope Gilbertson, Staff Writer

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At 8 p.m. on Sunday, many students gather in clusters and common rooms to watch the popular fantasy television series Game of Thrones. A variety of professors bring discussions of the series into the classroom because of its cultural relevancy.

The fantasy television series “Game of Thrones” captured the attention of many Luther students when its eighth and final season premiered on April 14 after a two year hiatus. Some students gathered with friends to view the show together, live-tweeted the event on Twitter, or discussed the show in various classes. The critically-acclaimed television show is known for complex characters, detailed plotlines, and high production value.

“Game of Thrones” is an American fantasy drama television series that began airing on HBO in 2011. The story is based on a series of novels called “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, where “Game of Thrones” is the first novel. 

The story takes place in the fictional world of Westeros and Essos. The series follows three different story arcs that all relate to one another. The first arc features the Iron Throne in the Seven Kingdoms, the second arc follows the last descendant of the ruling dynasty who is plotting their return to the throne, and the third arc follows the Night’s Watch, which is a brotherhood of warriors. As the show has continued its run, it has become increasingly popular.  The premiere of the final season reached 17.4 million viewers, according to HBO.

Associate Professor of Communication Studies Derek Sweet believes that this series contains a wide variety of interesting subject matter that any student could enjoy.

“It is a pretty sophisticated story,” Sweet said. “Not only does it have action, but it also has palace intrigue, it has family conflict, it has all these different elements that a lot of different people can relate to. I think maybe we are seeing people gravitate towards the series that wouldn’t have before.”

Viewers of the show demonstrate passion towards their favorite characters by sporting their “Game of Thrones” merch and showing off their favorite house’s flags on campus. Sierra Duncan (‘22) devotes a part of her life to her favorite characters.

“I love Khaleesi, ‘mother of dragons, breaker of chains’,” Duncan (‘22) said. “She is my favorite [and] that is part of why I watch the show. My fish are named Khal Drogo and Khaleesi [after] two of my favorite characters.”

Advancements in streaming technology provides many opportunities for students to watch the series. Students can watch the show on the HBO television channel or stream it online through HBO Go, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video — as these companies have agreements with HBO.

Hope Gilbertson (‘22) | Chips
Janson Hunter (‘21) holds up a flag with the crest of House
Targaryen.

Center spaces of clusters and other common spaces across campus are full of students watching ‘Game of Thrones’ at 8 p.m. on the six Sundays of the final season. Watching the show is a social experience for Janson Hunter (‘21).

“[Some] football players have a cluster [together], so we probably watch it with maybe 12 or 15 of us,” Hunter said. “That’s who I have rewatched it with. Everytime we get someone new, we will make them watch it all in like three days. So we will all sit through it and watch it all over again.”

Despite its popularity, “Game of Thrones” has received criticism for showing scenes that contain graphic themes. Intense battles, murders, and sexual violence are featured in many of the episodes.

Justin Knautz (‘21) believes the graphic elements are necessary to the story arc.

“I’ve discussed it with some of my friends regarding the scenes but we don’t really dwell on them,” Knautz said. “Sometimes they are there for gratuitous sake but sometimes they drive a character. Seeing where [the characters] come from is more what we dwell on rather than, ‘that was horrible’.”

Not only is “Game of Thrones” taking up some students’ free time, it can also be found in the classroom.

“One of the things that I think is important in the classroom is that if we can take something that is culturally relevant in the moment, it makes it easier to wrap our heads around some of the concepts we are playing around with,” Sweet said. “I suspect that it’s probably why they are [discussing ‘Game of Thrones’] in religion. I know politics classes that are doing it, communication studies, maybe even history.”

“Game of Thrones” has also become a popular topic on social media. The first episode of season 8 was tweeted about over 5 million times.

Some students — including Duncan —  believe that it can be difficult to avoid spoilers due to social media.

“It has been a struggle, and I have not successfully avoided spoilers,” Duncan said. “I can’t look at comments anymore [because] all the top comments are spoilers about ‘Game of Thrones.’ I have found out some stuff I don’t want to know.”

According to Sweet, the desire to be informed about popular culture motivates students and viewers to watch the show.

“We still count [‘Game of Thrones’] as this huge cultural phenomenon,” Sweet said. “‘Game of Thrones’ is not getting the same viewership as something like the Superbowl does. I think part of it is that you’ve got to be a part of it. If your friendship group is into it, everybody has to watch it or you are kind of left out. I think that is a big part of what is happening with it.”

[because] all the top comments are spoilers about ‘Game of Thrones.’ I have found out some stuff I don’t want to know.”

According to Sweet, the desire to be informed about popular culture motivates students and viewers to watch the show.

“We still count [‘Game of Thrones’] as this huge cultural phenomenon,” Sweet said. “‘Game of Thrones’ is not getting the same viewership as something like the Superbowl does. I think part of it is that you’ve got to be a part of it. If your friendship group is into it, everybody has to watch it or you are kind of left out. I think that is a big part of what is happening with it.”

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