Earlier this week, Game of Thrones-the thing that people on the internet now love more than anything else in the whole world-returned for another season. For some reason, it’s a show that people have only ever felt comfortable describing to me IRL in alliterative HBO comparisons: “The Wire with wizards,” “The Sopranos with swords,” and so on. I haven’t watched it yet, and to be honest, I probably never will.
And it’s not because I don’t have HBO Go, or because every time I’ve tried to torrent something I’ve just ended up with a frozen download bar and tons of pop-up ads for dick pills. It’s because I have an innate aversion to anything that can be described as “fantasy.”
We all know the clichés of the fantasy fan: the Games Workshop employee who sighs when children don’t know how to play the game properly. The people who found their cultural Garden of Eden in the graphic-novels section of Borders some time in the late 90s. Their cultural trajectory took them from Redwall to Red Dwarf to Reddit, and now they argue loudly in small-town bars about how Bruce Lee died. They hate fashion in all its forms, yet they yearn to look different. To get around this, all of their clothing must refer to something else. Be it an oversize Alan Moore-style amulet or one of those”Afraid of the dark, Lagerboy?” T-shirts.
The mission statement of Game of Thrones, though, is that it isn’t just meant for those people. It’s for people who like True Detective, Donna Tartt, and the National. It’s sexier, it’s full of great actors, it’s about politics, and people die all the time. You can talk about it at parties, and people won’t laugh at you! But as much as its audience protests that GoTisn’t just for people who love arguing about dragons, my aversion to anything that could be described as “fantasy” runs far deeper.
In truth, I really don’t care whether Game of Thrones is more like “Mad Men with magicians” than Dungeons & Dragons or whatever. It’s a lifelong problem; the same one that made me fall asleep in the first Lord of the Rings film, walk out of the second, and completely ignore the third (not to mention The Hobbit, which was even disliked by many people who loved LOTR).