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Op-Ed: ‘House of the Dragon’ Has Saved My Love for Westeros

In the Spring of 2018 I was in college, commuting from home and with a two hour block of time between classes on weekdays. It was in these hours I would devote myself to reading George R. R. Martin’s magnum opus, A Song of Ice and Fire: a book series that I was discovering late, and only catching up on as the TV adaptation (Game of Thrones) was nearing its end.

I would read a book, and then watch the corresponding season- a method of consuming media that I found immensely satisfying. Like most fans of the books, I hold the first four seasons in pretty high regard as faithful adaptations, find five to seven to be of decaying quality, and season eight to be a crime committed by the show's directors.

I remember my excitement as I sat down for the premiere with friends, my first season that I would catch live, only to be shocked at the pitiful display that was unfolding before us.

I'm not going to explain why it was bad, but I just want to make sure you know that I’m part of that annoying group who still whines about how awful season eight of GOT was. I was disheartened, and I lost interest in the franchise, especially since it seemed we would never have the book series concluded.

And then, I hear they’re making a prequel series about the Targaryens. Great, more half-assed bullshit with terrible dialogue just feeding off of the property and squeezing out every last dime that they can get. I couldn’t believe there was anticipation for this series.

Did people forget how bad season eight was? You’re just gonna trust them to make something good again? The book the show is based on is low-key kinda bad and boring. I’m sorry there is no way this is going to be worth anyone’s time.

Then, I watched the first episode.

Where the fuck did this brilliance come from HBO? You got me out here watching hour-long YouTube video essays on Westeros lore once again, you got me rewatching clips from the main series again. You have me reading George’s blog saying that he might release book 6 sometime, and I’m actually hopeful that it will come.

I can’t believe my love has returned, after it wilted on the vine, sour and scorned. This show has soothed my soul as a scoop of vanilla ice cream does to a burnt tongue. Damn you HBO, why must your highs be so high when your lows are so low.

It’s enthralling, each episode reaches new heights and my friends and family are discussing it. Now House of the Dragon has returned a GOT property to its status of event television.

Actors and actresses pulling out career making performances, special effects and production value that are reflective of an HBO budget, and dialogue once again dense with literary devices and character development. I’ll admit, I was bitter and didn’t care to see this show succeed. But it undeniably has.

I think what’s so remarkable is how HOTD is not just a good adaptation of the book it's based on (Fire & Blood), it's by far the superior medium for the story. The book is a dry academic retelling of history, but in the show we are given characters of remarkable depth and intrigue, a smorgasbord of human emotion and motivations that make seeing it play out, in my opinion, must-watch television.

I would actually discourage you from reading the book before watching the show. The twists are much better played out on the small screen than anywhere else.

HOTD has shown me that I’m still interested in Westeros, and rediscovering that love alongside friends in real life and fans online has shown me what it was like to be watching the show in those early seasons. Watch parties have returned in my life, and rather than yelling at our screen in disgust at the butchering of a finale, we are yelling in shock and awe as the series' next twist comes to a head. It is quite simply, thrilling.

While I will never put my blind trust in HBO with this franchise ever again, I also will not scoff at their next attempt, whatever that may be. Last I checked there was approximately like eight projects all coming and while I don’t think they could all stand up to the level of quality HOTD has been, I am hoping several can continue this positive momentum. If you haven’t checked the series out yet, give it a shot as we approach the penultimate episode!

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Landon Graybill
Landon Graybill
Hailing from Amish country Pennsylvania and now living outside Kansas City, Landon Graybill is most well known for inspiring the character Greg from "Succession". He is a lover of pop culture from the Golden Age of Hollywood through today, and enjoys drama and comedy in equal measure. INFP-T btw
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