Winter is over: HBO brings down curtain on TV phenom 'Game of Thrones'
Picture taken on 28 March, 2019 shows the old port of the city of Dubrovnik, also a set for the HBO series "Game of Thrones" (GoT). The city of Dubrovnik -- already a tourist and cruise ship magnet -- became a set in 2011 for the cult HBO series "Game of Thrones" (GoT) whose final season starts on April 14. While the GoT stardom has been a boon for his business, it is also bringing a new inundation of visitors to a city already struggling with overcrowding.
AFP/Denis Lovrovic

Winter is over: HBO brings down curtain on TV phenom 'Game of Thrones'

Thomas Urbain (Agence France-Presse) - April 11, 2019 - 9:30am

NEW YORK, United States — Who will win the battle for the Iron Throne? Millions will be perched on the edge of their own seats to find out as "Game of Thrones," set in a turbulent medieval fantasy world of dragons and sword fights, reveals its final political twists and action-packed turns.

Bets on the ultimate ruler of the fictional continent of Westeros are well underway, according to British bookmaker William Hill, with wilful, powerful Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) the current favorite.

Ten days ahead of the season eight premiere, more glamorous candidates such as King in the North Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) are also very much in the conversation. 

In the 20 months since the last season aired, fans have debated non-stop the eventual ending of the unusually expansive, ambitious show, filmed at a cost of $15 million an episode. 

The first of the new season's six episodes will air on US cable channel HBO on April 14, as well as on the network's streaming platforms. 

Lauren Christison, a supply manager in her 30s who lives and works in New Jersey, said she was "beyond eager" to see what unfolds, and plans to watch with her sister, who turned her on to the program. 

"I am so excited that I went out and purchased the limited edition white Johnnie Walker scotch whisky -- and I don't even drink whisky," she told AFP.

"Game of Thrones," which has aired 67 episodes, premiered in 2011 based on George R.R. Martin's expansive "A Song of Fire and Ice" book series. The first installment, "A Game of Thrones," was published in 1996. 

Well known for its record-breaking audiences across the world, the show has also proven a critical darling and an awards juggernaut, its first seven seasons garnering a staggering 47 Emmys.

"I think there may have been other shows in the past that hooked people, but never like this," Christison said.

-'Power, love, family, conviction'

The website Archive of Our Own counts more than 22,000 "fan fiction" entries in which devotees have produced DIY stories based on the series's universe. 

The 2018 "Con of Thrones" fan convention attracted around 5,000 people to celebrate the show in Nashville, according to organizer Melissa Anelli of Mischief Management, which plans to repeat the event in July. 

"The level of engagement is enormous," Anelli said.

Dark, complex, violent, medieval -- "Game of Thrones" doesn't fit the typical profile of a cultural phenomenon, but its sweeping storylines and epic themes have pulling power beyond the geek clique.

The show builds on the witty, wry and sometimes adult approach to nerd culture popularized by Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe, which treats its audience like grown-ups and has been rewarded with $18.5 billion in ticket sales.

"The Marvel movie franchise really made nerd mainstream," said "GoT" buff Senia Hardwick, who revealed that she met her wife at a fan gathering. 

For Christison, the universality of its appeal is obvious.

"In the end, I think 'GoT' resonates with people because the themes of power, love, family, and conviction are woven into each of the characters as they vie for the Throne," she said.

Life after the end?

"The story arc is so vast that it can appeal to a variety of viewers at once," added Lisa Woolfork, a literature professor at the University of Virginia who teaches a "Game of Thrones" class.

"Those interested in political intrigue, family drama, historical fiction, sword and sorcery, costume drama -- all of these representational styles are present in 'Game of Thrones.'"  

Despite being fantasy, the series does an incredible job of commenting on the modern world, according to Valerie Garver, a medieval studies associate professor at Northern Illinois University.

She cited the show's iconic tagline -- "Winter is coming" -- an ominous warning about the harsh weather ahead, but perhaps also a portent of the end of the world -- and an allegorical nod to the real-life climate change emergency, Martin has acknowledged. 

The motif returns in the upcoming season, with characters facing threats from the sinister Night King and his army of frozen zombies -- the frankly terrifying White Walkers. 

"What do people do when there seems to be an unsolvable problem that could mean the destruction of humankind?" Garver asked. "Will they try to solve that or will they pay attention more to the things that seem more immediate?"

Though some fans are pulling for another season or two, most seem to have accepted the impending conclusion and, like Christison, are "ready for the shock of who will live and ultimately who will die."

For Anelli, the passion of "GoT" will live on past its final episode, airing on May 19.

The publication of Martin's much-anticipated sixth "A Song of Fire and Ice" book ought to ignite fans' devotion all over again, as has the teased possibility of a prequel series, set before Martin's first book. 

Anelli says a 2020 "Con of Thrones" gathering isn't yet planned, but added that "much like Harry Potter, 'Game of Thrones' fandom will continue to exist past the core content expiration."

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 10, 2020 - 12:48pm

Check out the latest TV and online shows!

July 10, 2020 - 12:48pm

Foodies stuck at home will have more reasons to enjoy Sunday mornings as their favorite lifestyle show “Taste Buddies” airs a series of fresh episodes beginning July 12 on GMA-7. Watch never-before seen videos of the show's food adventures, which were taped before the Enhanced Community Quarantine was implemented.

While "Taste Buddies" host Solenn Heussaff was on her maternity leave, her co-host Gil Cuerva explored Baguio's must-try dishes and Makati's cool food spots. Joining him in various gastronomic trips were Kapuso stars Michelle Dee, Kate Valdez, Nikki Co, Lexi Gonzales, Angel Guardian, EA Guzman, Anjo Damiles, and Jason Abalos. Viewers at home will also be able to pick up new tricks and tips as well as ways to level up the ordinary egg.

Indulge in food adventures and more with Taste Buddies' fresh offerings only on GMA-7, starting this Sunday, July 12, at 10:05 a.m. Meanwhile, viewers can still relive the show's fun and memorable episodes every Saturday on its original timeslot at 8:30 pm on GMA News TV. 

July 7, 2020 - 11:11am

Elle Evans (Joey King) just had the most romantic summer of her life with her reformed bad-boy boyfriend Noah Flynn (Jacob Elordi). But now Noah is off to Harvard, and Elle heads back to high school for her senior year. She'll have to juggle a long-distance relationship, getting into her dream college with her best friend Lee (Joel Courtney), and the complications brought on by a close friendship with a handsome, charismatic new classmate named Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez). When Noah grows close to a seemingly-perfect college girl (Maisie Richardson-Sellers), Elle will have to decide how much she trusts him and to whom her heart truly belongs. Director and screenwriter Vince Marcello returns for The Kissing Booth sequel, based on the "The Kissing Booth" books by Beth Reekles.

"The Kissing Booth 2" arrives on Netflix on July 24.

May 15, 2020 - 11:22am

For the first time ever, comedian Jo Koy takes Netflix to the Philippines in his new comedy special, "Jo Koy: In His Elements."

Koy celebrates his heritage by telling jokes about life as a Filipino-American while highlighting the culture of Manila. Koy uses this opportunity to shine a light on other Filipino-American performers by welcoming to the stage famed breakdancer Ronnie, Grammy-winning producer !llmind, singer/songwriter Inigo Pascual, and comedians Andrew Lopez, Joey Guila, and Andrew Orolfo. "Jo Koy: In His Elements" premieres globally on Netflix on June 12.

April 22, 2020 - 12:35pm

The #WorldIsOurs and it is up to us to #ActNow and do our part to save it. Earth Day can serve as a reminder on how human action––and inaction, for that matter––impacts nature and other animals. Furthermore, it can be a time of reflection and reconnection for what you can do for the planet.

Be reminded of the beauty that animals and nature bring into our world in the most immersive wildlife media experience you’ll ever have in "Epic Earth" as it premieres on Wednesday, 22 April 2020, at 9:00 PM only on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel.

April 17, 2020 - 8:01pm

"The King: Eternal Monarch," a romantic fantasy drama starring Lee Min-ho, premieres on Netflix on April 17. The romantic fantasy drama series revolves around the relationships of people from two parallel universes. King Lee Gon seeks to seal the gateway between dimensions, while Jung Tae-eul, a police inspector, simply wants to protect other’s lives and their loves. 

"The King: Eternal Monarch" is written by Kim Eun-suk ("Guardian: The Lonely and Great God," "Mr. Sunshine," "Descendants of the Sun"), and directed by Baek Sang-hoon ("Secret," "Who Are You: School 2015" and "Descendants of the Sun") and Jeong Jee-hyun ("Search: WWW"). 

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