My Favorite Obsessive Rants: Emoting vs Acting

My new favorite audio channel on youtube is “The Dragon Demands” which is a Game of Thrones fan channel. More specifically, my favorite videos are analyses of ways that the TV show diverges from the books and how this always works badly. He goes into repetitive, exhaustive detail about just where major character arcs go off the rails. He seems like a major obsessive weirdo and I can’t get enough of listening to him.

What’s best is that his one-track laser beam focus does reveal what I’ve not been liking about the show in the last two seasons. Short story: The Show Runners don’t care about the story and don’t understand how stories or actors work. The basic flaw is that again and again, they manipulate the script so that the actors can mug expressively for the camera, which seems to impress them a lot more than it should.

He makes a distinction between an actor playing a character in a specific scene versus mugging with no context and GoT consistently goes for the latter. He notes that in interviews many actors in the show seem to not know what’s going on or have any idea of what their character’s motivation is. Instead the Show Runners have particular actors project emotions that they’re good at. So there’s a lot of Stannis frowning, Jon Snow brooding, Cersei fuming etc. There are other problems such as wanting to film in a historic site in Spain that resulted in cramped filming and the worst fight scenes (by a large degree) in the series. Even the initially praised “Battle of the Bastards” turns out to be a story of bungling where the Show Runners gave the director less than half the time needed for a convincing battle scene with cavalry (turned into one on one battles in the mud and Jon Snow brooding for all he was worth).

I’m not a huge Game of Thrones fan. I enjoyed the first four or so seasons a lot. But after that it has gone off the rails for a number of reasons. I’ll still watch Season 7 but I’m not expecting much. I tried to read the books but stalled out after about 70 pages of the first one because while the author can create a convincing and detailed universe the dude just cannot write in a way that I enjoy reading. The dialogue tends to plod and the characterization just doesn’t work.

I have the idea that in this case Game of Thrones is symptomatic of a larger problem in American dramatic productions – it’s all about expressive faces rather than stories and characters. It’s emotional porn for emotionally stunted millenials.

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