It’s almost time, y’all. The cold winds in the North are rising, death is marching beyond The Wall. Winter is finally here and ”Game of Thrones” fans are on the edge of their seats, eager for the premiere of the final season of our favorite epic drama on Sunday, April 14.
Avid “GoT” watchers like myself have spent years agonizing over who lives, who dies and who will sit upon the Iron Throne. We’ve theorized, we’ve binged, we haven’t been able to shut up about it for the last year and eight months since season seven ended. The intense fandom the show (which boasts one of the largest viewerships in television history) has created is fun to be a part of. But those in our lives who love us but don’t watch the show may feel a bit left out and a tad irritated by all of the hoopla and fanfare.
“GoT” fans totally get it if you don’t like the show. You’re wrong, of course, but we get it. Still, these left-behind significant others can start to feel like “GoT widows” who’ve lost their loved ones to the hit HBO series and can’t get a word in edgewise or even direct eye contact on Sunday nights at 9pm.
“It’s so annoying, to be honest,” Dummea Vincent, a 29-year-old executive from Pittsburgh, told me. Her husband, Lalit, has been a “GoT” fan throughout their six years of marriage, but she is not. “I just think the show is tedious. Each episode was so long and stupid. ’Game of Thrones’ has got y’all brainwashed. It feels like a cult following.”
As we prepare for the final six episodes of the series, I spoke with three women in relationships with “GoT” fans about how they cope, how they bond and most importantly, why they don’t watch the greatest show of all time for themselves.
“Whether it’s ‘You know nothing, Jon Snow’ or ‘Hodor,’ my husband will not stop saying lines from the show for the entire week before the next episode comes out. I won’t hear the end of it!”
– Dummea Vincent
“Most people who don’t watch the show probably don’t watch it because they know it’s going to be gory,” said Nicole Howard, a 31-year-old writer from Maryland who’s longtime boyfriend Aaron regularly watches the show despite the violence. It’s true, it’s not an easy series to get into. The gratuitous nudity, murder and sexual violence has certainly been a deterrent for some viewers.
“I’m a black woman and I’m a proponent of watching shows with characters that look like me. One of the things that turned me off from ′Game of Thrones’ is that it’s a very white-centered show, that made me a bit uncomfortable,” added Maud Acheampong, a 20-year-old student who’s been in a relationship with a fan named Kosi for a year.
“’GoT’ is also not a show that gives you happy feelings; it’s very much a show of crisis,” she continues. “One of the reasons I didn’t want to watch it is because I didn’t want to be anxious and sad all the time.”
Despite the problems these ladies had with the show, their partners powered through and fell in love with the fictional series, which occasionally resulted in leaving their real loves in their lives on the outside looking in.
“(He and his friends) would have these very tense, existential conversations that were contextualized by this apparently amazing show and I felt a little bit out of place sometimes,” Acheampong said. “And it would always feel like they were walking on eggshells around me when they were talking about ′Game of Thrones.’”
In other cases, being left out of the loop would be preferred.
“After every episode, I won’t hear the end of it,” Vincent said. “Whether it’s ‘You know nothing, Jon Snow’ or ‘Hodor!’ or stuff like that. What even is Hodor?! He will not stop saying lines from the show for the entire week before the next episode comes out. I won’t hear the end of it!”
Added Howard, “If he wanted to ever talk about the show, he’d have to talk to other people in the (‘GoT’) community. I don’t know enough to have that discussion. I’ll probably just listen and eventually tune him out.”
“Disagreeing about ‘Game of Thrones’ in a very weird way has emphasized to me that my relationship is a safe space.”
– Maud Acheampong
“Game of Thrones” itself isn’t known for its portrayal of healthy fictional relationships but it’s refreshing to see, at least with these couples, how the show isn’t getting in the way of real life partnerships and teaching unexpected lessons on compromise. One of these “widows” even had a change of heart and recently decided to start watching the show.
Regardless of their varying levels of involvement in the show, these three relationships are stronger than Valyrian steel (that’s my last obscure “GoT” reference, I promise). A “Game of Thrones” fandom (or lack thereof) is just another thing that keeps their love lives interesting.
“Being able to argue [with Kosi] about ’Game of Thrones’ has actually been a positive in our relationship,” said Acheampong. “Disagreeing about ’Game of Thrones’ stories and characters in a very weird way has emphasized to me that being with Kosi is safe place; he’s here for the long haul, which is really comforting.”
As Vincent conceded, “I guess one good thing about being a ’Game of Thrones’ widow is that on a Sunday night, I know exactly where he’ll be at and what he’s doing and why he’s not picking up my phone calls. I do hope his favorite characters end up winning at the end of the show.”