In case you haven’t heard, there’s been a lot of furor over the past couple of days about George RR Martin’s television viewing habits.
Specifically, whether or not Martin watches Game of Thrones anymore. Based on a widely circulated interview, Martin is being quoted as stating that he’s stopped tuning in while working on other projects (presumably these include writing The Winds of Winter, but people are unconvinced he’s even doing this).
Some commentators are taking this as a sign that Martin no longer cares for Game of Thrones now that it’s gone off-book. It’s easy for disgruntled fans to point to Martin’s disinterest at the series as indicative of the falling quality of the show on the whole.
Except, not only is Game of Thrones bringing in, if anything larger audiences than ever, but as it turns out, even George RR Martin himself is still watching the show. The author has explained publicly that headlines proclaiming that he doesn’t watch the show are untrue.
According to Entertainment Weekly:
“Martin told EW via email he can’t recall saying he doesn’t watch the acclaimed HBO drama series and notes that perhaps something was mangled during translation. During his trip abroad he didn’t watch any television — and he’s behind on Thrones‘ current seventh season. So perhaps that was a source of confusion. But Martin does watch the series.”
So George RR Martin’s been busy, and hasn’t had a chance to keep up with the show – that doesn’t mean he’s not watching when he has the time, and that’s fair enough.
But it is interesting that a rumor like this could spread so quickly among Game of Thrones fans.
There’s definitely a long history of George RR Martin’s followers overanalyzing the author’s every move. The problem with gaining cult status is that people soon begin watching your every move in the hopes of gaining some great insight into your process.
Martin’s health, leisure pursuits, and travel plans have all been pored over by eager fans, who can be very critical if they think they see something they don’t like.
His supposed admission of not watching Game of Thrones seems like a big deal if only because fans would like there to be some huge drama happening, for him to be mad at HBO or for the show to no longer be taking his input on board.
In reality, Martin is still working closely with HBO on not only the current Game of Thrones series, but also on all the various spin-off that are currently in the very early planning stages.
This being the case, if there’s anything that fans don’t like about the current season of Game of Thrones – for example, that the pacing is weird or that the plot isn’t violent enough – there’s no easy get out clause. They can’t blame it on a lack of George RR Martin support and write the show off as an understandable failure.
In reality, the show is just as good as previous seasons, but it’s been so built up by hype and expectation that there’s no way it could live up to what fans have been hoping for. This is the inevitable challenge of a show that’s become this monumentally huge.
Perhaps there is a lesson from George RR Martin to be taken here. While he’s not stopped watching the show, he hasn’t turned the weekly episodes of season seven into a religious experience, and is happy to let unwatched episodes pile up while he does other things.
Maybe to truly enjoy the rest of Game of Thrones, both the season seven finale, and the distant eighth season, we need to stop caring quite so much.
Keep things casual, and there’s a lot more fun to be had than when you stress over every tiny detail of the show to the point that you’re picking holes when there are none.