LONDON Breakups are hard.
But theyre even harder when you were supposed to receive a USB with all the Game of Thrones episodes from the person that is now your ex.
I would like to say that the account that follows was based on an assignment to write an experiential piece on binge-watching.
However, this tale is actually born from post-breakup anguish mitigated by a bizarrely cathartic weekend that’s best described as a scene from Bridget Joness Diary, only with what I presume equates to innumerable pints of fake blood instead of Ben & Jerry’s – which ultimately turned into an assignment to write an experiential piece on binge-watching.
It was the first Friday night of my newfound singlehood, and I found myself sinking into a melancholy that would not mix well with copious amounts of alcohol – a rather mature realisation if you ask me, despite protests from my well-intentioned friends.
Begging off their insistence that I should accompany them for a night of revelrous gal-palling, at around 9:30 p.m. I found myself staring forlornly at a blank computer screen, wondering if I had made a mistake. I guess I’ll watch a movie, I thought despondently to myself. Something to distract me, obvs passing on the sappy rom-coms. I perused several Best of Netflix NOW! articles and consulted the running list of need-to-watch films that I keep on my phone, but to no avail.
At roughly 9:45 p.m., this line of thinking brought me to a long-standing intent to watch the Game of Thrones series. The fact that I still remained part of the population that had not seen GoT mystified those closest to me. You need to see this, they would tell me with solemn faces. There are wolves in it. I love wolves.
Having recently joined the Mashable UK team, it was becoming an even greater imperative that I begin this endeavour soon, lest my ears fall victim to spoilers, and also to avoid being shunned by an office of diehard fans.
My recently unboyfriended boyfriend had, before the unboyfriending, promised to give me a USB with all of the seasons of GOT, and I, silly girl, had initiated the unboyfriending before securing this coveted flash drive.
How will I watch Game of Thrones now, I despaired. I dont even deserve to watch it anymore, I lamented.
But then, a strong, almost supernatural sense of purpose began to wash over me.
I do deserve to watch this series, and I will, I resolved emphatically to my empty flat (not aloud, not that weird).
I began the arduous task of figuring out how exactly to obtain access to the show in the UK. It was frustrating, it was painful, and Im not entirely sure it was ethical, but so is life in Westeros as I would soon discover. One HBO Now free (I hope?) trial and a VPN installation to an archaic iPad later, and I was ready (if there are easier methods, I do not wish to know them).
And so at approximately 10:45 p.m. on Friday night, thus began an emotional journey that would keep me confined to my flat with little exposure to natural light or fresh air (dont worry, I was covered on the food front) for an estimated 2,310 minutes, or 38.5 hours, not including bathroom breaks and one run to my Sainsbury’s Local, because chocolate.
(Side note: Heres a nifty binge-watching calculator that tells you how long it will take to watch a series in its entirety: http://www.bingeclock.com/s/game-of-thrones)
Binge-watching is an interesting phenomenon in its own right, but one that I think needs to be redefined. In 2014, Netflix conducted a study that found 73% of people define it as watching between two to six episodes of the same TV show in one sitting.
Ha. All I have to say to that is, 73% of you are weak.
In the time period that began on Friday evening at 10:45 p.m. and only ended on Tuesday morning at 12:30 a.m. because I had work in a few hours, I managed to complete everything up to Season Four and two episodes of Season Five (at publication, this count will undoubtedly have changed).
For three days, I completely and utterly disentangled myself from reality to immerse myself into the world of GoT (aside from when my mum received my umbrella snapchat and started sending a barrage of alarmed calls and texts). In a sense, I found that GoT became my reality.
In Season One when Daenerys strokes Drogos bearded face, I was reminded of my ex (he has a beard) and I cried a little (I wept), but when she meets Daario Naharis at the end of Season Three and becomes his lover in Season Four, I knew that I would probably also one day meet my own, albeit less attractive, Daario Naharis.
As the scrappy Arya Stark navigated the Seven Kingdoms despite the mounting tragedy of the Stark clan, I was reminded that I’m a strong, independent woman who don’t need no man – or a Hound, for that matter.
When Sansa reveals her love of lemon cakes I decided we must be soul sisters, because I ALSO LOVE lemon cakes. And then I seriously considered going to the store to get lemon cakes.
When The Mountain squeezed Prince Oberyns eyeballs out, ultimately obliterating his skull, I was comforted; things could be worse.
To that end, much of the plot made me realise that things could be much, much worse.
Engaging in such a heavy concentration of GoT in a period of personal distress is not necessarily a remedy I would prescribe to everyone.
If you or someone you know has been unexpectedly betrayed and murdered at a wedding, GoT may hit a little too close to home.
If your father is also your husband, or your uncle is also your father, or really if you’re involved in any sort of incestuous family drama, GoT might be an awkward watch.
No-one ever needed to know the full extent of what happened to me in those hours – until I decided to publish it on the internet (you are welcome) – and that in itself was empowering.Also, I was free to interpret the show without influence from the outside world, and because of that, it became a deeply personal experience and a means of release.
BUT,do I now count myself a member of the hard core GoT fanbase? The series has unique significance to me, but watching the show whilst in a heightened state of emotion and without time to digest and ponder the significance of each episode didn’t allow me to absorb some of its finer points.
Sure, it was gratifying to watch the series without pause, but cliffhangers lose their effect when you can simply plow through the end of a season and into the next, and so then does the show as a whole.
Furthermore, watching a wildly popular series like GoT in the modern day has become a communal experience via hashtags, online conversations, fan fiction, art, and theories,those people on Reddit who decipher Sansa’s letter, and you can also choose to enjoy it live, with other humans, at a normal pace, if you’re into that. I think that’s the best way to truly appreciate a series – there’s something to be said for anticipation.
That being said, Season Four of Orange is the New Black hits Netflix on June 17th…
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