A little while ago both Erik and myself were giggling over this clip of Ben in Parks and Recreation passionately casting down the idea that HBO’s Game of Thrones would ever be canceled. Ben argues that it’s a hit because it tells real world stories in a fantasy setting. At the time, I said that that was a perfect explanation of why the show and series among non-traditionally fantasy inclined fans:
What I love about the clip is that the explanation is also one of the best and most succinct ones I’ve heard/seen of why the show/series is successful.*
Really? Do you know someone who’s fathered three children through his sister? Is your best friend a stunted dwarf desperate for love, drowning his sorrows in the bosoms of whores? Has your older brother been killed and his family’s home put to the torch because he decided to marry someone for love?
No. Ben’s explanation is incomplete. The reason the show is successful among non-fantasy lovers is because the characters think like normal people. This is not the clichéd epic where the protagonists talk in faux old English and are constantly worried about honor. These characters are appealing because we can understand how they think and we see that they aren’t always inclined to do the right thing. Sometimes they do the selfish, wrong, ugly, stupid, thing instead. It’s entirely human.
*I realize how absurd it is to quote oneself. I’m only doing it here because I’m criticizing my own comments.