Ummm…..sooo…….What the serious fuck Robbie?!?! Be sure to read this carefully because…
I’m kidding! Right? Are we sure? Of course I am!
I’m not here to tell you that you are wrong, because everyone has their own lives and who has time to watch every single thing that everyone tells you is amazing. I even get not starting it when it premiered and thinking about catching up after a couple of seasons and then just getting stubborn with SOOOO many people telling you this is the greatest show ever. It’s hard to believe that because so many people had also very recently been talking about Breaking Bad as the best show ever. So is every good drama the best show ever? All of them?? Are we just handing out that award at will now? Is The Good Wife the greatest show ever now because someone just finished binge watching all of it?
No, I can categorically state that The Good Wife is not the best show ever.
What I will say is that with some time, Breaking Bad was an EXCELLENT show and even concede that Bryan Cranston probably gave one of the single greatest performances over the 5 seasons of Breaking Bad. It was excellent, but the main reason it was is because Cranston was excellent as Walter White. EXCELLENT! That show had some very weak spots in the casting, but not him and the other 2 or 3 main protagonists (Saul, Mike, Gus, Jesse at times) were really, really good too so that makes Breaking Bad deserving of being on the short list for best TV ever made. It was also my favorite drama when it was on because it’s one of the few shows that got better and better each year. Not every show did that (I’m looking at you season 2 of The Wire), but Breaking Bad absolutely did and ended beautifully.
So while Breaking Bad is a favorite of mine for drama and Seinfeld is my favorite for sitcoms (because it’s the best!!), the best show in the history of television is Game of Thrones. Let me make the case, so when you eventually watch it one day (hopefully) that you can see what I’m talking about.
This started from a place of love
According to my calendar, this is currently 2018, but Game of Thrones started back in August of 1996. Harper-Collins published a book called “A Game of Thrones” and their modest expectation was to sell maybe 5000 copies of it in in hardback and hope for a slightly broader appeal of 50,000 in paperback. Like most things that are very well done, they exceed expectation. Word of mouth spread like crazy about this book with so many layers that was so very well written. The book series was originally set to be 3 books about the Stark House, Lannister House, and Dany. Along with some stuff coming from North of the wall. That has ballooned into 6 current books, and the final 7th on the way.
That has ballooned from hoping for 5,000 books sold to over 90 million currently sold worldwide. That is the definition of growing an audience and turning a loyal cult following into mass appeal. That happened from the quality of the story and the excellence of the writing. People love George RR Martin because of this world he has created. He is the most famous writer in the world that isn’t named JK Rowling. He is the author of the modern day fantasy world that people cannot get enough of. He is our modern day Tolkien.
That love was protected at all costs
Now that we have established that the first book had been around since 1996, but the series didn’t premiere on HBO until 2011, we need to know what happened. Several studios approached GRRM about turning this book franchise into a movie. Only wanting to focus on one character and tell the Jon Snow story. Martin refused and thought that nothing would do it justice if it was bastardized into a fraction of the world that he had created. He held onto it for years until David Benioff and D.B. Weiss approached him on behalf of HBO. They wanted to show this entire world and take their time doing it. They wanted to do justice to the millions and millions of fans that it already had. Martin was reluctant and it took them several months to convince him. He needed to know that they were true fans of the books. At a dinner where everything was seemed to be going well, GRRM asked them both a single question.
Who do you think Jon Snow's mother is?
They were terrified of giving an incorrect response, but they responded (I assume correctly) and Martin agreed to let them have the rights to the cherished world he created. He held onto it because of his love for the story, the entire story, and because he refused to let his fans down. He didn’t need them, they needed him and he needed his story to be treated correctly. Until he got that promise from the right people he wasn’t letting it go. They were the right choice for him and ultimately he knew what the right choice was. It look well over a decade to get there and over that decade he turned down truckloads of money. Because of love.
that love has spread worldwide
Game of Thrones premiered in 2011 and the 8th and final season will premiere in April 2019. Over that time the popularity has grown, much like the books originally did. The show has moved past where the writing of the current books are and has gotten bigger and bigger as far as the scale of the show. The wait between season 7 and season 8 has been well over a year, but that is because they want to do it right. The final season will be only 6 episodes, but it took them that long to film because they want to end it right. The final season will be essentially 6 full length feature films to end the series. 90 plus minutes each on a scale unlike anything that has come before it. They are doing that because this matters to the fans that have been there for years with the TV show. They are doing that because this matters to the fans that have been there since the book came out in 1996. They are doing that out of love.
We have gotten attached to these characters and when the show premieres in April it will be the center of the pop culture universe. It will be the most watched show on television when it airs and Game of Thrones is already the most pirated show in history. It will be watched by millions and millions of people, but that isn’t a reason for you to watch it. It’s not the reason that I will be watching it either. I will be watching because between watching the series over and over, spending time re-watching clips on the internet, spending countless hours trying to figure out who Jon’s mother is, I have spent more time with Game of Thrones and these characters than I have any other show in history. I love this show. I love this world. I love these characters. This ending will be bittersweet and personal to me and so while ultimately I think you would enjoy it, the fact that you haven’t seen it and don’t want to doesn’t change how I feel. I will feel a loss when it’s no longer on the air. I will continue to spend time with these people that I have built a relationship with over the years. I will watch the spin-off that HBO is doing because I want to spend more time in this world. Watch it. Don’t watch it. It doesn’t matter and doesn’t really affect anything for me or anyone else. Since 1996 this has grown to be something personal for millions of people, including me, and that is what makes it the best show of all time in my opinion. Love.
Stephen Balding is the founder of Cinema Soapbox. You can reach him at email@example.com
Robbie Clark is a senior writer and contributor to Cinema Soapbox