You know that uneasy feeling you get when the latest episode of your favorite show opens on an attractive naked woman who is also unfortunately being flogged (already confusing enough) and then your mom puts her hands over your grown-person eyes to deal with the awkwardness in her own way? Let me put that differently: Have you ever been simultaneously aroused and horrified and then had a blood relative touch you? If you are lucky, you will have answered “no,” to these questions, and will continue watching Game of Thrones with peers or alone.
Some nuclear families pride themselves on being able to discuss just about anything amongst themselves and, to a certain extent, a parent’s duties do include broaching tough subjects to provide their offspring guidance. But most of us learned the hard way to avoid talking politics, religion, or sex, drugs, and rock & roll with the ‘rents; we learned through blowout fights over partisan politics, veganism, sexuality, etc. or by suffering through painfully awkward silences and intense, emotional onscreen moments.
In honor of all those who have gotten their wires crossed and mildly traumatized themselves while viewing and/or discussing an episode of GoT with family, here are 10 Reasons To Avoid Watching Game Of Thrones With Your Parents.
10. Remote Control…Control
Over time, our habits and preferences break from our parents’ and it becomes harder to integrate back into their natural habitat or accommodate their needs without compromising our viewing experience. It starts with a scramble for control of the remote, followed by disagreement over volume level, picture ratio, the glare that never seems to bother the elders, and whether menopausal Mom should be able to dictate room temp, and ending with a, “We can’t find our HBOGo login info, let’s see what DVR’d.” And the worst part of it is, in your typical nuclear family, parents always outnumber individual offspring.
9. Talking At The Worst Time, It’s What They Do
I’m reminded of a recent Geico Insurance commercial that depicts a spy being interrupted mid battle by a phone call from his oblivious mother and an unseen narrator saying, “If you’re a mom, you call at the worst time, it’s what you do.” Well, if they’re your parents, they will talk at the worst times, like while Cercei and brother Lannister are mid coitus or immediately after half the cast has been slaughtered and your mind’s been blown, it’s what they do. Not only will they talk, they’ll ask questions too, and you will answer right away since now your focus is broken and you have to rewind the DVR for yourself anyway.
8. You Need To Binge-Watch And They Can’t “Hang”
We spend our childhoods fighting parents over bedtimes and curfews only to have them fall asleep on us or lose interest early into the late night lineup when we finally can burn the midnight oil together as adults. No matter how intense the drama being transmitted to the TV screens before their eyes, no matter how loud the roar of Daenerys’ unruly adolescent dragons or Mance Rayder and his wildling army, or how seizure-inducing the flash of green “wildfire” over Blackwater Bay, your parents will not last more than three episodes back-to-back let alone an entire season of GoT before boredom or sleep sets in.
7. “Wait, Hold On, Start From The Beginning”
Even if your parents could handle bingeing more than a few episodes at a time, would you be willing to start the story over and re-watch the entire series to date with them (in order to avoid having to pause the show at regular intervals and recount for your elders the abridged history of Westeros minus confusing character names)? Your answer is most likely, “No;” no I will not watch old content, and as a consequence, your family will remain less invested than you in the characters and their schemes, and you will not invest much energy in keeping your family up to date.
6. Haters Gonna Hate
If you are trying to introduce Game of Thrones to your parents for the first time, do not be surprised if you find they cannot relate; the show might come across as gratuitous, trite, too complicated, too far-fetched, too dramatic, too bloody, too much of one thing, too little of another; the odds are not in your favor is my point. Late comers and new comers to the series alike will approach with skepticism and are more likely to bemoan unnecessarily graphic battle and brothel scenes and point out parallels between GoT and other fantasy franchises, than to approach with an open mind and find some common ground.
5. Never Talk Politics/Social Issues
HBO’s Game of Thrones has deliberately departed from the Song of Ice and Fire novels not only with subtle changes to the cast of characters left alive, dead, undead, or zombified, but by explicitly addressing more timely social and political issues otherwise left untouched or merely hinted at in the book series. For example, on TV, Lancel Lannister’s Sparrows are violently anti-gay on top of being anti-sex workers as in the books. More power to you if the family enjoy a good debate over LGBTQ and other modern societal issues; the rest of us would rather not risk finding out a family member is also, for example, a right-wing bigot.
4. Moral Ambiguity
Between sadist bastard Ramsey Snow or inbred, dead King Joffrey on the psychopathic side, and the righteously determined, remaining Stark siblings on the compassionate side, are several key players for GoT‘s namesake throne whose plans and ambitions are not completely known to viewers or the inhabitants of Westeros; characters that are conflicted like Lord Baelish, brothel owner, usurper, and loyal ward of the Stark line, and Varys the Spider, a poison wielding eunuch making strides toward a unified Seven Kingdoms. Varys and Baelish are just two well-meaning characters with blood on their hands that will most likely inspire an aggravating family debate on ends justifying means and moral relativism.
3. Remember, You’ve Been De-Sensitized
Author George R.R. Martin’s writings are often classified as grimdark fantasy, a literary subgenre defined by a ‘grittiness’ or realism that departs from sugarcoated, sorcery-heavy fantasy series’ like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, and tends toward historical fiction in that gut-wrenching detail is valued over euphemisms and implied violence that coddle readers/viewers.
The people of Westeros are portrayed on HBO as flawed, conflicted sadists and saints, capable of great heroism but greater evil and guided largely by circumstance. Slit throats, unexpected beheadings, brutalized prostitutes, and peasant (not pheasant) hunting are some horrific acts simulated in GoT that no healthy family need bond over.
2. The Birds And The Bees…And The Dragons
Most of the sex in Game of Thrones happens under duress or under incestuous or otherwise repulsive circumstances, but this in no way makes it less awkward when Mom and Dad are around and things get hot and heavy in Westeros. Look inside the latest issue of Heavy Metal magazine and you will realize that GoT cannot be the first fantasy series to capitalize on this perfect mix of sex, violence, dragons, magic, and gore, that is like catnip to diehard fans of things like Led Zeppelin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dungeons & Dragons, and Internet p*rn. Needless to say, none of these interests are the kind you share with parents.
1. A Lose-Lose Situation
Mom’s not going to like the action, Dad’s not going to like the touchy feely stuff and even if your parents do not fit into these cookie-cutter gender roles, it is guaranteed that neither of them will appreciate any of the “mature content” and they will inevitably turn to trying to understand where they went wrong as a parent and why their offspring likes the show in the first place. Or, maybe you’ll get into an argument about censorship and the difference between p*rn and erotica, and that between good storytelling and shock value, ending with the back-in-the-day-we-didn’t-need-to-be-vulgar-to-get-our-point-across speech. Sound fun?