Game of Thrones: An Open Letter to the Showrunners

Dear Game of Thrones Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss:

With season 7 coming to a close this weekend all of the show’s fans go into Sunday with excitement, though many serious devotees brace themselves for disappointment. While I know the casual show watchers will be wowed no matter how many guns you show without firing during the 80-minute finale as long as there are explosions and zombies, I will be watching with the other half of your viewers: the cynics, the nitpickers, the explainers, the snobs.

Call us what you want but we will be watching – and noting each time a character makes a decision that seems ‘out of character’ and disenchanted every time you use a literary device to get where you need to go.

Why are viewers like me so critical of arguably one of the best television shows in history? We expect greatness because you gave us greatness for many seasons. We expect greatness because your series is based on books by an author who would never make the same lazy mistakes you have. He would rather take years to write the book he envisioned then cram all the material into a novella so he can move onto the next project.

Don’t you want to be true to George R.R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire? You were true for so many seasons, but now, you’ve proven that according to Martin’s standards you cheated. Yeah, that’s right I said it. You cheated.

Martin gave an interview last year in science fiction magazine Galaxy’s Edge: “I think a writer, even a fantasy writer, has an obligation to tell the truth and the truth is, as we say in Game of Thrones, all men must die," he said. "You can’t write about war and violence without having death. If you want to be honest it should affect your main characters. We’ve all read this story a million times when a bunch of heroes set out on adventure and it’s the hero and his best friend and his girlfriend and they go through amazing hair-raising adventures and none of them die. The only ones who die are extras. That’s such a cheat. It doesn’t happen that way. They go into battle and their best friend dies or they get horribly wounded. They lose their leg or death comes at them unexpectedly.”

Right. So you did exactly what Martin said no to. You literally put a bunch of heroes out on an adventure and only killed off one of the minor characters. Tormund got attacked by maybe a dozen wights? No problem. Jon Snow was trapped under the ice but magically escaped? Okay. Oh, but you did kill a dragon, didn’t you? Of course he was the Thoros of the dragons, but at least you gave us that.

It’s like the kid who gets straight A’s and then gets in trouble for getting Bs. Maybe it's unfair that we expect perfection but it's because you delivered perfection for so long. One of your cranky directors Alan Taylor who directed several episodes of Thrones including last week’s “Beyond the Wall,” gave several interviews about the fan backlash including telling Newsweek, “If the show was struggling, if it wasn’t finding an audience, I would be up in arms about that and trying to press back, but it actually just made me laugh.”

So, if something is popular it doesn’t have to be good anymore? Gentlemen, let me remind you Thrones is your legacy. Yes, you will come out with other shows after this but none of them will be Thrones. Any serious watcher can see that you’ve clearly moved on to your next project and you’re just trying to get to the finish line no matter how sloppy the journey.

We know you don’t have the books as source material anymore but you can’t really use that as an excuse. Last season was not perfect (poor Arya’s storyline suffered the most) but you gave us “The Battle of the Bastards” which was on par with some of the best movies I’ve seen. And then you managed to follow it up with a jaw-dropping “Winds of Winter.”

Just like I tell my three-year-old, “You can do it. You’re just choosing not to do it.” I know the scripts have been written for season 8 and you’ll start production later this year, but scripts can be rewritten and for god's sake track down directors Miguel Sapochnik and Jack Bender stat. Choose to do it. Take your time. Channel Martin and stop with the shortcuts. Let this iconic show have the epic ending it deserves.

Love and not Whinging,

Janna Mandell

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