So Game of Thrones finally ended its reign at HBO and it only took 73 episodes to send its fans into therapy. Ironically, some actors, including Kit Harington (a.k.a. Jon Snow), had already sought mental help when their characters initially blew up into a global passion.
But apparently, many fans of the series were not so enamoured with its finale. They took to social media, the streets, and even to therapy to vent their feelings.
It’s no surprise that some shows develop an unhealthy following. The characters and their stories come into the privacy of our homes on a regular basis for years and we’re not supposed to develop some kind of attachment?
We laugh with them. We cry with them. And when they die and are later resurrected from the grave, you’re darn tootin’ we’ll follow them into the next battle.
Game of Thrones was an emotional rollercoaster designed to test our blood pressure. Nearly every conversation revolved around preparing for war or death. There was little down time – for the characters or the audience – to process what had just happened and manage their feelings. That is, except during the extended downtime between seasons in which anticipation built to a frenzied season premiere.
I found it odd to hear fans describe GoT as authentic to the period. Because yes, of course, there were dragons flying around between the 12th and 15th Centuries – along with the odd Starbucks cup.
But that leads to a small issue with the excessively personal connections viewers have been building up in their minds over the past eight seasons. It’s a fantasy. There should be no confusing reality and the stories of the Game of Thrones.
And yet, one cannot deny the way some viewers internalized the characters and related to them. They named their newborn children after the GoT heroes. Too bad if said characters later turned into the greatest villains.
Meanwhile, anyone who survived abuse or trauma in life likely gravitated toward Daenerys. She was the ultimate survivor, an inspiration. But her unfortunate end-story likely impacted how her fans’ saw their own.
Then there’s the simple absence of the show. When you’ve invested so much time, energy, and even your identity with something that is suddenly gone, a huge, gaping void is left.
Consequently, an estimated 10 million fans planned to take skip work after watching. Employers were told to allow staff who did show up to discuss it as a team-building exercise.
And others sought professional help. In fact, a specialized GoT counseling service was launched to that end. Psychiatric professionals with intimate knowledge of the show helped fans deal with their feelings online or in person.
I’m a strong advocate for therapy. There’s no shame in asking for help. But perhaps, instead, they should have had a psychiatric evaluation BEFORE they were allowed to watch. It’s a TV show, people.
Although, now that I think of it, most of GoT’s characters probably would have benefited from a 50-minute session once a week, too.