Game of Thrones: How NOT to structure a TV show

Every TV show has its low moment. For me, that moment came in Mad Men in a season 4 episode called “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword”. In that episode the usually savvy business man Roger Sterling goes against his nature and has a freak out at some Japanese clients because he fought in the war. It was a ridiculous moment that felt totally untrue to the character.

Thankfully the season 5 premiere reinvigorated the show, and it maintained its brilliance till the end. But you get this in other shows that never recover, like in The Wire when McNulty fakes a serial killer, or in Parks & Rec when the characters all become self-parodies.

Game of Thrones has a different problem. The best thing about the show is that we keep getting challenged on how we feel about certain characters. We go from hating Jaime Lannister to thinking he’s actually okay, same with The Hound. Even Jon Snow transforms from an arrogant upstart to a true leader over the five seasons.

But now the problem with the show is that – due to time constraints most likely – they haven’t taken the time to think about how they want to tell this increasingly expanding story. And so we get scenes that don’t really go anywhere, but are basically telling us what to expect by the season’s end.

It’s really bad television if the creators spend a whole hour setting up for something that will happen without being exciting or dramatic at any point in that hour. Mastery of the craft of storytelling comes in managing to do both.