Viewing audiences worldwide have been eagerly anticipating the start of the new season of Game of Thrones. So many complex storylines, intriguing characters, and killings of said intriguing characters have come full circle for this defining moment in television history. The final two seasons of the show are promising to epic. If the first six seasons serve as any indication, I believe they will be. If you aren’t on the GoT bandwagon, one, what the hell planet are you on? But, two, you still have time to jump on board. If you decide that you might want to give it a shot, let this post serve as a quick guide (not to outdo the brilliant Black People’s Guide to Game of Thrones by the Root). I’ll discuss what the show involves (obviously without spoilers), what makes it so cool, and what you should expect. By the time you finish this, I’ll have you on board faster than you can say “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

Ill start by assuring you thst show is a must-see and is absolutely worthy of the time it would take you to watch it all. In fact, I’d probably rank it as one of the greatest shows of all time. Easily in my Top 5. The Wire, GoT, Breaking Bad, The Twilight Zone, The Sopranos. That order.

The show is basically about several families vying to be top dog by claiming the Iron Throne. Questions of lineage, birthright, and meritocracy all play a role in determining who should or should not rule the GoT world. The show, based on the wildly popular book series written by sadist George RR Martin, looks at the rises, falls, and reemergence of kingdoms and the paths they took/will take to accomplish their ultimate goals. It’s almost, dare I say, American.

If I’ve captured your interest and you’re ready to dive in, here’s what you should know:

(1) It’s critical that you start from the beginning. Some shows are created in a way where individual episodes can be independent of one another. GoT provides no such liberty. If your first experience with GoT is the beginning of Season 7, you won’t have a clue what’s going on and it will be quite overwhelming. The sight of snow zombies, dragons, kids who can possess the mind of animals while traveling though time, and child assassins who can switch faces is a lot for anybody to take in all at once. Never mind trying to understand lineages, “houses”, and individual characters and their attributes. Go back to the beginning to absorb everything…and give the show your undivided attention. Even I, a fan from the start, had to go back and re-watch the series to pick up on things I missed before.

(2) Don’t get attached to too many characters. Chances are high they won’t be around very long. GoT is known for its prolific and unpredictable violence and for killing off popular characters. My God, one of my favorite people in the entire GoT universe was a goner by the end of the first season. Some of my favorite characters have been able to stick around (one of whom was actually killed at one point…long story, and I won’t provide details. Because, spoilers). But GoT’s penchant for killing is well-known. In fact, a leaked script from Season 7 originally had me listed as one of the characters killed.

(3) To that point, GoT will also take out women and children (even innocent ones) with absolutely no compunction. Not only that, they’ll do so in some of the worst ways imaginable. For all the nobility and sophistication you’ll find in a show that features royalty, you’ll also find savagery far worse than you’ll ever find in any MMA cage. But fear not: GoT also remembers people who do bad things and won’t let them off the hook. Even though you’ll be mostly crying during the series, you’ll have some extremely satisfying moments to offset that.

(4) For the most part, characters aren’t “good” or “bad.” They just are. If there was one major accomplishment of this show, it’s that characters are so complicated that it’s virtually impossible to describe any of them using a good/bad dichotomy. Starks – the ‘good guys’ – do morally and politically questionable things. Lannisters – the ‘bad guys’ – express humanism and have redeeming qualities. Even somebody like the Hound who can kill innocent children can be a very likeable character. Don’t get me wrong: you’ll find some hopelessly evil characters in the series. But most are ambiguous, at best.

(5) The level of modern-day commentary is quite spot-on. No GoT storyline is as evident of that as The Wall, a thousand foot ice wall designed to keep others out, even if those others could be useful allies. Sound familiar?

(6) I will say that while GoT doesn’t turn a blind eye to diversity, it’s doesn’t exactly celebrate it. This is probably the one area of conflict for me. Outside of some very minor individual characters of color, groups of colored folks appear as either savages or slaves. I’m actually not trippin’ about that enough to make me stop watching the show. But the part of me always looking for equal racial representation in shows looks at that component of the show with a hint of criticism.

(7) Finally, the show is smart. Scratch that. The show is intellectual. From the wry humor to the sophisticated dialogue to the intricate plots and storylines, this show will force you to pay attention. Your IQ is guaranteed to jump 5 points once you’re caught up. But please don’t be scared off by any of that. The Internet is full of recaps, summaries, and explanations. Hell, YouTube comments are as educational as any textbook could ever be.

If you’re not a Thrones person yet, I dare you to watch the first few episodes of season one and see if you’re hooked yet.  I can almost wager money that by the first few episodes, you’ll officially declare yourself a member of #TeamHouse____. Before long, you’ll become so much of an expert that you’ll know to run for the hills when they play “Rains of Castamere” at somebody’s wedding.

I swear this by the old gods and the new.

-ACL

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