It is a strange world we live in, where grimdark is now the norm for Hollywood cheesiness. You wouldn’t think a show where a little girl is burned alive and another serially raped could be cheesier than its source material, but somehow David Benioff & D.B. Weiss have managed just that. Despite its fantasy setting, A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t an escape from reality and the show has never been afraid to tackle the ugliness featured in George R.R. Martin’s books. Grimdark is defined by an absence of any emotion other than misery, but ASOIAF has never been like that. What I love about the series is despite its character deaths and dark subject matter, it shows the totality of the human experience: joy, love, despair, hope and sorrow, it’s all in there. On season 5? Unending misery.
My biggest criticism is of course the character assassination of Stannis Baratheon. From very early on Stannis was painted as a villain and for one simple reason: the Ds think you’re all idiots. The Ds are right that ASOIAF is a hard story to get into, but they think that gen audiences are so dumb that if they don’t make it as cheesy and simplistic as possible, everyone will get lost “We need a hero in a post-Ned Stark world!” the Ds cried. Thus Tyrion, a multi-faceted and not always likable character in the books (he turns a singer into stew and feeds him to commoners) is elevated to Hero of the Story. His opponent? Stannis. “Well Stannis kills his brother, so let’s make him really, really evil,” the Ds say. “Gen audiences are too dumb to appreciate a story where good and evil aren’t black and white!” So Stannis kills Renly and this is over and over brought up as The Reason Stannis is a Bad Guy. In the fifth season finale we’re meant to root for Brienne as she unsheathes Oathkeeper and declares “in the name of Renly Baratheon, the one true king, I sentence you to death.” (more...)