That’s right. Ten hours of televised violence, sex, political scheming, sex, horseback riding, sex, and a helluva lot of names with a man whose biggest exposure to fantasy was dropping me off at the theatre for the sixth time to see Return of the King.
It was not a marathon is the strictest sense. We did not watch all ten episodes at once, but we did watch the last five episodes this weekend just before the second season premier on Sunday night, which says a lot about my dad’s journey from tolerance to enjoyment of those wacky Westeros kids.
I was a bit skeptical at first. Throughout the first few episodes, my dad had the occasional question or exclamation of approval (e.g., Joffrey getting hattrick-slapped by Tyrion), but always the episode would end with a vague “huh,” as if we had just watched “How It’s Made: Curling Rocks Edition.”
I don’t know whose names he remembered or what he thought was going to happen. He kept it all to himself. When I watched season one with my mom, she always shared her theories and judgments with me – and occasionally had to clarify what brutality had occurred while she had her eyes covered with a blanket. I have to hand it to her for watching even the second episode with me, after the rape and attempted child murder of the first episode.
But my dad had no comment about the blood, the breasts, the graphic incest. All he had to say was “huh” once the fifty-three minutes were over. Not a terribly enthusiastic review, hence my skepticism.
Then one night last week, there was a knock at my bedroom door.
“Amanda, are you doing anything?”
“Writing, but not much. Why?”
“Do you want to watch the next episode of that show?”
I wanted to say, “Ohmisevengods, Dad, I would love to watch the next episode! I thought that maybe you were just humouring me with the first few episodes – and maybe you’re humouring me still – but yes, let’s have some good quality father-daughter bonding time watching this crazy-graphic show!”
But my dad had proven to be so cool about the whole thing, and I didn’t want to scare him off with my fangirlness (as I am quite sure I did when I was fourteen with Lord of the Rings), so I said, “Sure, Dad,” and cued up the DVD.
On we went, down to King’s Landing, across theNarrowSea, up to the Wall, and finally under it. I willingly exposed my own father to the ever-naked Ros, and Shae the Funny Whore, and what it means to “Make the Eight.” (I felt a little irresponsible to expose my mom to it, too, but I was sure the violence would get to her before the nudity did, and then she made it all the way to episode ten like a champ!)
I admit that it’s probably weird to look at weekly installments of a show like A Game of Thrones as bonding time, but for me it really is. While my parents were the ones who encouraged my voracious reading in my childhood, they weren’t the ones who led me to Tolkien or Pratchett or Gaiman. My love of fantasy – a love so great that I want to make it my living – sets me apart from my dad and his crime thrillers, and my mom and her contemporary literature. When I was younger I used to bombard them with all the details of what I was reading, regardless of what the looks on their faces were, and then I fell in with friends who enjoyed the same genre, so all my prattling on was unleashed on them.
I haven’t let my parents read any of my novel-in-progress. Not a word. I’ve hardly even told them what it’s about. When I was at university, I took a workshopping class that showed me very quickly how important a background in fantasy was to readers of my story, to not find the characters, the motives, the setting completely strange and off-putting. The last thing I wanted was for my parents to be put off by what I was creating, so I kept it to myself.
And then last year A Game of Thrones came around, and even people who had distanced themselves from the nerdy, D&D kids in school found themselves wrapped up in the very cool, edgy, and badassness of a fantasy series. I figured that the HBO series was the most appealing fantastical incarnation to expose my parents to, to give them even a slight impression of a genre that had had such a profound effect on me.
When we finished the last episode, my dad got up to finished making supper. On his way to the kitchen, he said, “Y’know, I think the brother [Dad GoT Code for Tyrion] might turn out to be one of the good guys.”
Calm, cool, collected, I said, “Yeah, Tyrion might be the closest thing this series has to a hero.”
And at nine o’clock, we watched the premier episode of season two.