5 Reasons Why You Bloody Well Better Not Miss GAME OF THRONES

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As any nerd with half a brain knows, HBO is about to hit the dark fantasy stratosphere with its new epic television series GAME OF THRONES. If you didn’t know this, you’ve been stuffed under a rock somewhere. It also means this is your lucky day: ol’ Axe is gonna give you the 411, the skinny, the low-down on the down-low. Here, kiddies, is where I blow your brain sprockets.

“But Uncle Axey,” you chirp! “Why should we give a fig about a fantasy series? Haven’t we been burned before? Haven’t we already seen the Roars and the Merlins and the Xenas and the Legends of the Seekers all paraded before our still-believing eyes? We’ve learned our lessons! Sword-and-sorcery television is laaaame.” Others of a more hardened nature might say, “I never liked that fantasy crap in the first place. Why should I even care?”

As the pallid Prince Herbert of Swamp Castle once said, “Well … I’ll tell you.”

This article is in part a warning. Most HBO viewers who may tune in to the show out of random curiosity have no idea they’re about to get painfully smacked in the mouth by a so-called “fantasy” series. Game of Thrones is the television adaptation of a series of dark fantasy novels called A Song of Ice and Fire, written by George R. R. Martin. It was adapted by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and—

—-ahhh, who cares, right? Screw the details. You want the goods, and I’m going to give you the freaking goods right now. Here are 5 Reasons Why You Bloody Well Better Not Miss Game Of Thrones:

(Obligatory Warning: This post contains some spoilers, as well as excessive sex, violence, and language. If you’re offended by any of these—well, you won’t be watching Game of Thrones anyway. Pess off, you whiny, sensate wankers! Go back to watching Desperate Housewives!)

1. BADASS WOLVES
 

Sure, the wolf pups you see in the picture above aren’t exactly looking to tear out your throat. But look closely. That massive hunk of fur at the bottom? That’s their MOM. Wolves—direwolves to be precise—play an integral part in this story, bonding with (and fighting alongside) the Stark family children. The direwolf symbol snarls defiantly on the snow-white banner of House Stark. And the wolf pups? Those little bastards eventually grow up, and some of them get to be as big as horses.

So who are the Starks, you ask? Only the central family of a story in which multiple families vie for power. Don’t like wolves? Think those wolf tee-shirts you find at the mall are lame? That’s fine too, you can instead root for characters from other houses. This story is on an epic scale, and you may decide you like the Lannisters (lion banner), or the Baratheons (stag banner), or the Greyjoys (kraken banner), or the Targaryens (dragon banner) better than the Starks. Take heed that it’s a crapshoot, however; no family is safe, and death claims a lot of different people. Your favorite dude or dudette may end up dead by episode two. (Hint: do not invest too much emotion in Mycah the butcher’s boy.) Be smart and pick a small handful of characters to like.

2. “FANTASY” MEANS MAGIC… SORT OF.
 

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See Daenerys Targaryen? With her funky platinum hair and her “My Pretty Pony” horse faithfully by her side? Isn’t she just adorable?

Don’t let her fool you. Innocent though she may be, this bitch is the last living female from a long line of rulers who used to maintain the peace primarily through the implementation of dragons. Yeah, dragons. But the dragons all died out, and the Targaryens lost their throne, and …

Well, they have to resort to some pretty drastic sheit in order to try and reclaim what they feel is theirs by right of birth.

In Game of Thrones, magic is a slightly different beast. There is an understanding that the supernatural used to exist in some form (the skulls of extinct dragons hanging from throne room walls tell us that much), but generally speaking, magic is a forgotten thing. The story is set in a very believable, starkly realistic medieval world, so when the magic starts slowly eking back in … it takes everyone completely by surprise. If you’re watching Game of Thrones to see Gandalf hurling fireballs at 15′ tall demons, you’ve tuned in to the wrong show. Game of Thrones is much closer to a dark period drama than “classic” fantasy.

3. DEVIANT SEX? SURE, GIVE ME A DOUBLE DOSE OF THAT!
 

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Queen Cersei says, “Welcome to my bedroom, where you win or you die.”

(Some women are like that.)

This show can get pretty graphic, people. Where should I begin? If you follow HBO’s more graphic shows, like, say, True Blood, you know HBO is not shy about sex. Hell, True Blood has vampire-on-vampire sex, human-on-vampire sex, human-on-border collie sex … You name it, they’ve done it. Other shows have done it too; Boardwalk Empire loves the boudoir, Hung is all about prostitution …

In short, HBO sex can be found with a wide variety of different people in a wide variety of different places, and in all sorts of interesting positions.

Well, Game of Thrones is no slouch in the f***business either. In fact, we’ll see your necrophilia and your bestiality and raise you a fine slice of dwarf-on-prostitute action. (And if we’re being technical it’s dwarf-on-four-prostitutes action.) After that we’ll throw in some nice underage sex (it’s consensual … mostly), and then top it all off with a heavenly slice of incest!

And that’s just in the first episode. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

4. BRUTAL VIOLENCE – WHERE IT HURTS THE MOST
 

Nothing says “Greetings” quite like an army of noble knights that ride up to bravely save your village from raiders and then turn around and indulge in a nice bit of rapine and pillaging themselves. Game of Thrones: where the nobility are mighty—and mighty makes righty—and being a poor commoner really, really sucks.

HBO has a proud tradition of spectacular violence. When you stake a vamp in True Blood, the fangers don’t just conveniently “dust off” in a nice, clean, Whedonesque sort of way. No, the gore sprays, and it sprays with impunity. In Boardwalk Empire you’re likely to get shot in the head, your brains splattered all over the finely decorated mantle. In The Pacific there’s always the danger of a stray bomb sending your leg flying off in some random direction like a well-kicked football.

But it’s different in Game of Thrones; I’d like to think the violence here is more … personal. Here we have beheadings (men and horses alike—no creature is safe from a good hacking), we have wolves ripping out stomachs, we have children getting cleaved in two. But the graphic part is really small potatoes. Mindless violence for no reason and with no consequence can become droll. (Really, how many times can you watch the Saw movie franchise without finally just shrugging?) In my opinion, Game of Thrones‘ violence hits harder because it often happens to the characters we love the most. (Don’t blame HBO if and when your favorite character bites it—blame George R. R. Martin.)

5. IT’S HBO, BITCHES!
 

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Charlaine Harris (the Sooky Stackhouse series of novels) and George R. R. Martin are (sadly) two of a very small pool of authors whose works have been given a fair shot at legitimate adaptation. Network television simply does not allow the freedom that subscription cable has, and books that are adapted to network television are hamstrung straight out of the gate; the “bite” gets taken out, so to speak. Let’s all take a moment of silence to honor the poor adapted novels that never really had a chance. (I’m talkin’ to you, Sword of Truth.)

Subscription cable is the only option if you want to see everything a given story has to offer, and HBO still rules that roost. It was and still remains the best option for A Song of Ice and Fire. We are the fortunate few.

Come see what happens when realistic fantasy is done right. If the cliffhanger at the end of Game of Thrones‘ first episode doesn’t affect you in some way, you have no soul.

Follow me on Twitter, especially if you have no soul. That’s @Axechucker, n00bs! If you’re lucky I’ll only bite your arms off.