Irksome Things in Game of Thrones

I’m talking only of the Game of Thrones television show which I’ve been binge-watching recently. As far as I can tell, these “problems” are liberties taken by the show (I read all the books a while ago, so I may be wrong).

Ser Dontos Game of Thrones

Captain Westeros, The First Avenger

1. Ser Dontos, an overweight drunk, wears armor that has a marked resemblance to the American flag.

That’s just mean. He’s called Ser Dontos the Red, not Ser Dontos the Red, White, and Blue.

Though I’ll admit it’s kind of funny that he looks like a really crappy Captain America.

2. Catelyn Stark says “stand down” which is a phrase thought to have originated in the early 1900’s, and the Bastard of Bolton says “phantom limb” which is a phrase coined in the 1870’s.

Yeah, yeah—I know the show is set in a fictional fantasy world, and it wouldn’t really work to have them speak Middle English (no one would understand except English majors, and even then it’ll only be the handful of people who paid attention during their Chaucer class). However, I personally prefer medieval fantasy to avoid modern-ish technical phrases as much as possible. I’m really not sure if these phrases were in the books or if they’re only in the show. I’ll have to pay attention if I ever read the novels again.

3. Casting for folks who appear on Daenerys’ journey seems off.

Daenarys Targaryen Game of Thrones Emilia ClarkeFrom what I gathered while reading the books, the countries right across the Narrow Sea from Westeros are intended by GRRM to be similar to Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, and then going southeast on Essos you hit the rough equivalent of the Middle East. Beyond that, you get the Dothraki (GRRM apparently based the Dothraki off various real-world people: Mongols, Huns, and Native Americans).

So, it was a bit odd to me that the Dothraki were portrayed by a mix of many real-world ethnic backgrounds. This was flipped around with the Yunkai slaves who were supposed to be from all over the world but were cast (at least in season 3) as what appeared to be a rather homogeneous group of dark-skinned people.

Daario Naharis Ed Skrein VS Michiel Huisman

Ed Skrein and Michiel Huisman as Daario Naharis. Who wears it better? I’m going with Huisman.

In regards to the recasting of Daario Naharis with Michiel Huisman for season 4, I find Huisman’s darker hair is much closer to my expectations of a Tyroshi (then again, Tyrosh is a major port town that probably has a considerably large mix of people—that, and the Tyroshi generally dye their hair all sorts of colors).

Side note that doesn’t have much to do with casting: I’m curious how the Scottish feel about the Wildings and the Wall being sort of based off of their ancestors and Hadrian’s Wall.

4. The show altered the plot of the books in ways that made it (more) arguably gratuitous.

Of course, the line between grit and gratuity is highly subjective. However, even GRRM has mentioned that though a certain scene was “always intended to be disturbing,” he “regret[s] if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.”

In the wise words of Chandler Bing, “See? That’s the thing—you gotta keep it smart, people!”

Well, despite any of these supposed problems, I’m still going to keep watching because the awesome outweighs the irksome.

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34 thoughts on “Irksome Things in Game of Thrones

  1. Dont be such a pedant! 😛 “phantom limb” is what disrupts your suspension of disbelief?! Puhlease. And the recasting of Dario is a tragedy, the new guy just looks like any other guy, exotic appeal thrown out with the babe in that one.
    The american flag note is hilarious, never noticed this before, but it is mean, but kinda true, very bingy me thinks.

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  2. Only read the series this year. It was a crazy few months, a blur of no sleep and pure addiction I would assume, is akin to any hard drug! Loved the books!!! Keeping my fingers crossed that the next book comes out soon so I can begin watching the series!!!

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    • I just noticed the resemblance when watching the “last time on GoT” bit at the beginning of Season 4. But as someone else noted, the heraldry was set up before the show began, and it’s actually red, pink, and blue (but it definitely still looks like the American flag on the show).

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  3. Gratuitous maybe, but I’m reading the War and Peace and War, by Peter Turchin, which explores the rise and fall of empires to the ages. The producers have nothing on the middle ages as far as excessive violence goes.

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    • Yeah, I suppose the violence and sex crimes on the show still pales in comparison to the real world. Of course, what you choose to show in fiction doesn’t need to be as gritty as real life, and whether a thing is gratuitous will depend on how modern society interprets things. Lots of things to consider when writing and directing.

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  4. I see your point, but the TV series is getting more irksome than awesome to me lately. I am about to give up on watching it, mostly because of what they did changing Rob Stark’s wife like that and the fact that they are going to reduce the part of the Martell princesses on the plot. They are distorting the books too much for my taste.

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    • Yeah, I kind of feel that in some instances, the show got away from the source material and lost certain bits of symbolism and meaning in exchange for shock value. At the same time, I noticed a lot of changes that were simply pragmatic, and other changes were actually improvements.

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  5. I agree, the awesome outweighs the irksome, so far. I have read that HBO has plans to take this series completely out of the realm of the books and into their own version of the story. I’m not terribly surprised though, HBO seems to do this with most of the series they “adapt” from authors. I’m sure it has something to do with being able to continue ‘telling the story’ (aka ‘making money’) long after the author has ceased writing the books. Sadly, after reading all of the books myself, I too am hooked enough to keep watching… at least until they start casting the vampires ;))

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      • I think it might only if you haven’t read them already. Then again, maybe it will just give people two separate Game of Thrones storylines to compare. I think for anyone who has read the books though, it might make the show less appealing. You know, that silly thing readers have where they want to see the story they’ve read brought to life, not someone else’s creation in its place? I think that might be a bummer to those who’ve read the series hoping HBO would do it justice.

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  6. This was a fun read.:) Though I may be a bit biased as Game of Thrones is one of my favorite series currently. I’ve never read the books so I don’t know what is true to them or not but I’m okay with phrases such as “stand down” and “phantom limb” as long as it doesn’t stretch into phrases such as “my bad”, “baby daddy” or “selfie”.

    I also liked the first Daario actor better as he seemed to bring something different to the table that made the character stand out.

    And the “always meant to be disturbing” scene is one of my favorites from the entire series. It’s not that I wanted to see those characters get Martinized but I really like that nobody has a safety net. One of my biggest pet peeves when watching a show or movie is that moment where one of the main characters is in peril and the story tries to build up tension when everybody watching knows that nobody is going to die. Even in the most hopeless situations, the character somehow miraculously escapes and after seeing the tactic implemented thousands of times, it tends to lose it value and leaves me bored. With Game of Thrones, I know that won’t be an issue.

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  7. Too funny. I’ve only read the books and have not yet seen an episode. I will say that the use of modern phrases in what is set up as medieval fantasy, or at the very least an otherworldly place, drives me crazy. And I’m not even an English major.

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