The second season of HBO's epic fantasy show Game of Thrones starts Sunday, April 1. Here are 5 reasons you should to get on this train before it leaves the station:
1. Best catchphrase, possibly ever?
I have always hated catchphrases with a passion, ever since the "Allllllrighty then" craze swept my middle school. But "Winter is coming" is full-on poetry that I cannot deny. It is menacing, physically chilling and beautiful all at once. So say it. Say it again. Never stop saying it.
2. The pluckiest housemaid from Downton Abbey appears this season as a SPEARWIFE!
One of the main disappointments of season two of Downton Abbey was the complete lack of Gwen (played by Rose Leslie), the downstairs redhead with grand secretarial ambitions. How was her secretary job going, I wanted to know, and why was she replaced by such a depressing and predictable brunette?
Well, it appears Gwen has gone far beyond the phone company and is now Ygritte, "a wildling woman and spearwife who becomes a lover to Jon Snow." Please tell me what grad programs to apply so I can become a spearwife as soon as possible. I'm not sure what it is, but I know I want to be it. Of course, for lovely Gwen, the first order of business will probably to spear O'Brien through the heart. O'Brien's got to be some sort of supernatural monster, right?
3. Honest, healthy portrayal of men
A great debate on MEN raged the other day, on my Facebook wall and on the wall of a friend, over this article from Cracked called "5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women." At one point, my friend Evren Odcikin jumped into the fray with this: "We spend a lot of time discussing how images in the media and our child-rearing habits affect young girls. There are similar and, if you ask me, as dangerous messages being directed at boys. It covers both the way they are supposed to engage with the opposite sex, but also about their self-worth and self-image."
I completely agree with him. Most of the male characters on TV fall into either the hyper-masculine, sexually attractive, dominating silent category or the weak, silly, effeminate category. There really doesn't seem to be much place for the brave, strong man who also questions himself, experiences fear and sometimes even admits his vulnerability. So many of the shows I watch revolve around a man who is smoldering hot and totally tough but can't express love unless it's through violence and sex and can't talk about how they feel about anything except whiskey (yeah, I'm pretty much watching Mad Men, Justified, Sons of Anarchy and Community exclusively).
Somehow, Game of Thrones has managed to create complicated and interesting male characters of every age, every class and even every height. I could make the case that even the villian-y-est of the male villains in this show expresses himself better than Don Draper. And he's probably a better dad too.
4. Honest, healthy portrayal of children
Once upon a time, I was a kid, so I can say this with absolute authority: kids are basically exactly the same as adults except that they are shorter, have less experience with things and basically no rights. Kids live in the exact same world we do, and see the exact same stuff, except for maybe in the movie theater when they are segregated into the PG world. But the truth is, a lot of stuff happens to them. And a lot of it is horrible, partially because, see above, they are shorter than us, they have less experience and they have basically no rights.
In this country, and maybe in a lot of places, we like to pretend childhood is a magical wonderland, and that children see everything in its cartoon version. Really though, childhood can be crazy and terrifying and I'm not just talking about kids who are actually abused (though probably especially for them), but for all kids. Remember waiting alone for a ride, from somewhere to somewhere else, in the growing dark? What were you going to do if no one came? What were you going to do if the wrong person came? YOU HAD NO IDEA.
Game of Thrones doesn't pull punches on the children. For them, this world is even more dangerous. People can push you out of windows and lock you up in castles and pretty much do whatever they want with you. But the best part? The kids are getting stronger. They are learning how to fight back.
And, in closing, I will leave you with this: