On Getting My Girlfriend to Watch Game of Thrones
I've learned that when dating, it's sometimes best to try and tone down my innate awesomeness (okay fine, geekiness) just a bit. She doesn't need to know about the replica TNG-era Starfleet uniform I've got stored in a closet at my parents' house—not on the first date, anyway. It's like the story of the boiled frog: drop a frog in boiling water, and it'll jump out immediately; drop a frog in normal water and slowly raise the heat, and it'll find itself happily in a relationship with someone who once seriously considered getting a White Tree of Gondor tattoo.
But there's a huge difference between accepting my pop-cultural obsessions and sharing them. "Just assume I haven't seen any of that stuff," she said once after I'd made a passing reference to Scott Pilgrim. One night, we were paging through the channel guide looking for something to watch, when we passed over Tron: Legacy playing on one of the movie channels.
"Oh, I saw Tron!" she said. "It was silly, but fun. I liked it."
I was surprised that she'd seen it, and agreed with her assessment. "Yeah, it was a lot of fun," I said. "You really have to suspend your disbelief, like it doesn't make any sense at all if you think about them in terms of actually being computer programs. But if you just roll with it, it's a good time."
She gave me this blank look, like I was just talking to her in Klingon. I tried to explain: "Like, there's no parallel between something an actual program would do, and them going to the bar or any of that. But if you just let that go, think of the computer world as just another place like Narnia or something, the movie's fun."
"What are you talking about?" she said, and now I'm the one with the blank, uncomprehending expression. And then something clicked for her:
"Oh wait, I didn't mean Tron. I meant Thor! Thor was good. And that actor who played him was really hot."
Now, she's not completely devoid of geekly tendencies. Like a great many girls these days, she was totally into The Hunger Games, and like many boyfriends, I took her suggestion and read the book. Okay fine, it wasn't so much a "suggestion" as it was her digging her nails into my arm and saying "Oh my god, you HAVE to read it, it's SO GOOD." And sure enough, once I started the first book, I ended up finishing the whole series within a week. We went to see the movie, and gushed over how awesome it was, and which changes made to adapt the book for film worked, and how perfect the casting was, especially Haymitch.
The challenge came with Game of Thrones. I'd been anticipating the show's return for weeks, but she didn't know a thing about it. "You'll love it!" I assured her. "It's about these competing families, and it's got chivalry and palace intrigue and medieval politics and sex and backstabbing and it's all pretty realistic, I mean there isn't much magic or anything like that although there are dragons but they didn't appear until the very end of the season, and Peter Dinklage is in it and he's the best character." I tend to speak in run-on sentences when I'm enthused. And I left out the part about the incest, as it's not usually one of the best selling points when trying to get someone to watch a show with you.
She seemed intrigued, and while I tried to quickly summarize season one, that proved difficult. The show has like a thousand characters. We ended up talking about Ned Stark for twenty minutes, and he's not even in the show anymore. I just hoped HBO would have a really good recap before the premiere.
The episode started, and for the first chunk of it, things were going well. She loved the little dragons. She was confused where Daenerys and all her people were going.
"I have no idea," I admitted.
"Oh, so this is a new character?" she asked.
"Nope," I said, and then tried to quickly explain Daenerys's whole story arc in two minutes without missing anything that was happening onscreen. I think I got most of it across, kind of. Then the show went into Bran's dream, which was filmed as a hovering POV shot.
"Ooh, is this dragon vision?" she asked.
"I don't think so, 'cause it's in the woods. It might be the zombies."
That brought everything to a screeching halt. "Wait, seriously? There are zombies in this?"
"Well, they're not zombies, exactly. I mean, they're walking dead, but they're smart and they call them the White Walkers. "
"You didn't say anything about zombies," she said, accusingly.
"Well, they're there, but they're not really a big part of the show. I mean, they're important, but they're just kind of lingering outside the perimeter. They're why all those guys are going north from The Wall, to see what's up with the zombies. I mean the Walkers."
"So there's all that stuff going on, and there's also zombies."
"Yep," I said, feeling that we may have hit another point where our opinions differ on what constitutes "awesome" or not.
We kept watching, and it got to the scene with Robb's direwolf, and she asked me what the story was there. I explained as best I could: "All the Starks have wolves. It's the symbol of their house."
"What, like a spirit animal? They've got spirit animals?"
"No, not like that at all. The wolf's just their symbol, on their crest. But in the first season they found a dead one with puppies, so now all the main Starks have their own wolves. But they're not normal wolves, they're bigger and they're super smart."
I thought that all made perfect sense, but I could see she was still stuck on the idea of zombies and spirit animals, and it wasn't helping that nearly every scene would just introduce yet another character to keep track of, with a whole other backstory to fill in. As I described how Littlefinger also controlled most of the city's bordellos, she finally got up, admitting that she had no idea what was going on in this show, and that she was just going to go take a shower. She came back just in time for the baby massacre.
I haven't given up yet. We've got nine more episodes, and we can always go back to the first season on DVD. The series will undoubtedly make more sense if she starts from the beginning. And if I can't get her into Game of Thrones, it's not that big a deal—there are plenty of other things we can watch together.
I've got a pretty good feeling I'll be able to convince her to see The Avengers, anyway.