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Game of Thrones - the end of an era for television 'essential viewing'?

Winter is here: an overused phrase that is sure to resonate with a lot of people this time of year. But for those who really understand the true meaning of the phrase, winter could not arrive soon enough. After leaving audiences high and dry for the entire calendar year of 2018, the final season of Game of Thrones is finally set to premiere this April. It goes without saying that these final 6 episodes will probably be spectacular in every way possible. The television landscape has evolved like rapid fire over the past decade, with high quality shows being the norm in far too many places. Nowadays, watching every single show that one might classify as ‘essential viewing’ is practically impossible. Yes, this is admittedly a first world problem where we simply have too many good shows to keep track of. Poor us.

But when it comes to Game of Thrones, it’s easy to resort back to the good old days when there was the one show you absolutely had to watch. Despite the abundance of riches that the television world has to offer, Game of Thrones somehow still stands above everything else. It somehow carries that notion of absoluteness that a show really shouldn’t be able to do anymore. I dare say that for anyone who cares about the show (and can afford HBO, I suppose), the world stops when they watch Game of Thrones.

Although the scale and grandiosity of Game of Thrones puts it in a league of its own, countless shows before it have caused the world to ‘stop’ in its feet. More recent examples like Lost, The Sopranos, Seinfeld and even American Idol (back in its heyday) come to mind. But as I’ve already stated, those were different times. With too many high quality offerings to even keep track of, the excitement and pop cultural importance surrounding Game of Thrones is truly special. It has a grip on the world that is deservedly firm, and will surely go down as one of the greatest contributions to the arts and entertainment world.

As television and the way people consume entertainment continues to inevitably evolve, I doubt we’ll ever have a show like Game of Thrones again. In fact, I doubt we'll ever be able to classify another television show as 'essential viewing'. The shear volume of what's out there pretty much precludes that from happening. The final season for Game of Thrones isn't just the end of an era for the show itself, it's the end of an era for the television world at large.


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