With all the flaying, throat slitting, and (both people and dragons) setting people on fire that seems to just be part of a normal day in Westeros (and Essos), it can be difficult to find HBO’s epic fantasy/slasher series Game of Thrones particularly relatable. Most of us aren’t running around giving birth to murderous shadow babies, slipping into the family dog’s consciousness, or having sex with our siblings next to dead bodies (though there are people prepping for a zombie invasion). Similarly, the people of Westeros are not Googling Kim Kardashian’s butt, taking selfies, or licking Cheeto dust off their fingers in secret shame while binge watching a Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family. However, this doesn’t mean that we have nothing in common. Despite the fact that I made it through my childhood without stabbing anyone with a sword, there have been a few moments that haven’t been that different from my life.
Episode 01×01 – “Winter Is Coming”: Taking In Strays
On the way home from watching Ned lop off a guy’s head, the Stark boys (including Jon, despite his insistence that he is NOT a Stark), and that hanger-on Theon, stumble across five orphaned direwolf pups. Since there is one for each legitimate Stark child, and direwolves are the Stark sigil, Jon convinces Ned that it was fated that the children should keep them as pets (and is then rewarded by finding a sixth pup, the awesome albino runt of the litter, for himself).
While our dog is a rescue, he was not a stray (nor is he a direwolf, though he thinks he needs to eat like one). Our cat, however, WAS a stray, though instead of being abandoned through the death of her mother, she was abandoned by our awful neighbors when they moved. Much like the Stark children and their wolves, we are very attached to our little Luna.
Episode 01×03 – “Lord Snow”: Sibling Squabbles
My younger sister and I are three years apart, and we shared a room for almost 13 years. Like Sansa and Arya, we spent a LOT of time fighting. She didn’t want to do the dishes; I didn’t want to do the dishes. She would make fun of my weight; I would make fun of the fact that she somehow managed to get a B in gym class. She ask her mother if she could have my clothes; I would abandon her in the woods behind our house in the middle of winter (in my defense, it was the middle of the afternoon, and you could still clearly see our house). You know, the usual sister squabbles. In this episode, Arya yells at Sansa for not speaking up about the incident with Joffrey and Mycah that resulted in the deaths of both Mycah and Sansa’s wolf, Lady. While my sister and I never got into it over her boyfriend getting my friend killed, arguments between us were certainly common. I’m sure our dad would agree.
Episode 01×07 – “You Win or You Die”: Forging Things
As Robert Baratheon lays dying, he dictates his will to Ned. Ned, now knowing that Joffrey is not the rightful heir to the throne changes “my son, Joffrey” to “my rightful heir” when writing down Robert’s words. This way, there’s a bit of legal wiggle room when it comes to getting Robert’s actual heir (*cough Stannis cough*) on the throne instead of Joffrey. While he certainly had the kingdom’s best interests at heart, he did still forge this extremely important document (and then as a result of him opening his big mouth and threatening Cersei, he ended up being executed in front of his daughters).
I, too, once forged an official document, but it was just my mom’s name on a seventh grade science midterm report. She’s left handed and I’ve never seen her write in cursive, so all I really needed to do was tone down the round loopy-ness of my 12-year-old hand and add a slant. No wars broke out as a result, and my head remains firmly attached to the rest of my body.
Episode 02×07 – “A Man Without Honor”: Sheets, Bloody Sheets
After waking from a nightmare about the attempted gang rape she had narrowly escaped, Sansa discovers her sheets covered in blood – she’s a woman now, folks!
I feel you, girl. Been there, done that (well, minus the whole gang rape thing).
On the bright side, unlike Sansa, I didn’t have to be terrified of my first period because it would mean I might be forced to have sex with a sadistic megalomaniac, so there’s that.
Also, am I the only one who thinks like that looks like WAY too much blood? It looks like someone was murdered in her bed, and not in the way that pre-rehab Amanda Bynes wanted Drake to murder her vagina. At least, I don’t think so. Thankfully for Sansa, she has maids to take care of the cleaning, because I don’t think a whole bottle of Clorox could handle that stain.
Episode 02×10 – “Valar Morghulis”: BETRAYAL
Dany, having finally saved her dragons from that creeper Pyat Pree, discovers that her handmaiden/sex ed teacher Doreah has betrayed her, and teamed up with Xaro Xhoan Daxos. Being betrayed by someone you thought was a friend is something that I figure most of us have probably gone through; it’s definitely something I’ve dealt with (right, ex-friend who got with the guy I was in love with as soon as I had transferred to another school?). However, unlike the Khaleesi, most of us don’t react to betrayal by locking the betrayer in a vault without food or water to die a painful, suffocating death.
Episode 03×02 – “Dark Wings, Dark Words”/03×06 – “The Climb”: Playing Katniss
In one of the (in my opinion) more creepy scenes of the series, Joffrey, in an effort to seem all cool and tough, lets Margaery hold his crossbow after he shows her how to use it (and then tells her that he’d enjoy watching her kill something…seriously, CREEPER, although she does ask if he would like to watch her, which raises quite a few questions about good ol’ Marg too). A few episodes later, Arya, who is already a decent archer, gets some more advanced training from the Brotherhood’s resident bowman Anguy.
I learned how to shoot a bow at Cub Scout camp, so that’s kind of the same thing, right? (Being a teenage girl at Cub Scout camp is the kind of thing that happens when your dad is Cubmaster, but at least there are hot Boy Scout counselors to flirt with).
Episode -03×05 – “Kissed by Fire”: Gendry is a Heartbreaker
So you probably thought I was going to mention something else that happened in this episode, but I’m trying to keep this PG here, people. So instead we will talk about Gendry, who I have a ridiculous amount of feelings for, despite the fact that I am married and he is a fictional character. Gendry and Arya are pretty much my OTP, even though the fact that I ship them so hard makes me feel weird because of their age difference; still, I can’t help but root for those crazy kids!
When Gendry tells Arya that he intends to remain with the Brotherhood rather than go with her to join Robb’s army, she is visibly distressed. When he points out that the Brotherhood is basically a family, and he’s never had one, and then she says, “I can be your family”, I LOSE IT EVERY TIME. He tells her she won’t be his family, she’ll be his Lady, and they both look near tears (while I passed tears ages ago). I don’t care what anyone thinks about the nature of their relationship, whether just friends or wanting to be more than friends, he broke her heart that day (and in a way, maybe even his own). Slightly off-topic, but I’m miffed that they left out the Acorn Hall scene from the books; it was such a good scene for them. GENDRYA FOREVER!!!
03×08 – “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”: I Don’t Want To Wear This
Brienne of Tarth, kind-hearted, badass warrior who has been described as “marvelous” by Olenna Tyrell (I’m inclined to agree), is not the kind of lady who enjoys wearing dresses; she’d rather wear her much more practical armor. When she is forced into a ratty pink dress (which she has to wear while fighting a bear, mind you), she is NOT a happy camper. I can empathize, having been forced into a dress I hated on career day in preschool. I wanted to be a polka-dotted cement truck driver; my stepmom made me dress as a teacher, complete with awful dress, even worse pantyhose, and uncomfortable bun. Thankfully, I do not think that any pictures of that horrendous day still survive. I think I would have rather fought the bear (seriously, pantyhose are the WORST, especially when you’re four).
03×09 – “The Rains of Castamere”: The Murder of Half My Family at My Uncle’s Wedding
Okay, this one didn’t actually happen. But it could have happened at my aunt’s outdoor 4th of July wedding in 100+ degree heat. The potential murderer? The sun. Or global warming. Or something like that. Heatstroke is real, y’all.
04×02 – “The Lion and the Rose”: The Party’s Over
Poor Margaery. First, she has to marry Joffrey, who is maybe the worst person ever, and then her wedding reception gets cut short when her douche canoe husband up and dies in the middle of the party. To be fair though, the party kind of sucked before that; the entertainment was distasteful, and apparently the pie was dry. Nobody likes dry pie.
My wedding reception was also cut short, though it was due to rain; my husband made it through the reception unscathed. He almost didn’t, though – apparently I looked like I was going to murder him when he shoved cake in my face. I retaliated, and he moved his head, so he got a fistful of cake in his ear; he was still digging out frosting two days later.
Served him right.
04×03 – “Breaker of Chains”/04×04 – “Oathkeeper”: #awkwardgrandparenttalks
After discussing why Joffrey was a horrible king while standing next to his dead body, Tywin Lannister escorts his grandson, and soon-to-be king, Tommen out of the Great Sept of Baelor while having a sex talk. Yes, that’s right, not only is Tommen suddenly thrust into a position of power he’s not quite ready for, he has to learn about the birds and the bees. From his grandpa. After looking at his brother’s corpse.
Then the next episode, Olenna Tyrell probably scars Margaery for life by telling her about how she roped her grandfather: he was supposed to marry her sister, but she seduced him, and apparently was so good in the sack that he couldn’t walk the next morning. He enjoyed himself and wanted more, so they got married instead.
While I haven’t had a full-blown sex talk with my grandparents (I think I’d rather be Joffrey than Tommen in that scene), I have had an awkward almost sex talk with my grandma, who, when I was preparing to move in with my now-husband, asked if I was educated about my birth control options. Though I was not only educated on them, but on birth control, it still caught me completely off guard. We had never had any discussions even remotely related to sex before, and it was maybe the most mortified I’ve ever felt at my grandparents’ house before (though I’m sure it would have been MUCH more mortifying had my grandpa been in the room…yikes).
Pretty Much Any Episode Featuring Ser Jorah Mormont: Le Friendzone
Ah, Ser Jorah. His unrequited love is just so pitiful that the internet has dubbed him “Ser Friendzone”, because really, that’s pretty much where he lives. He’s been taken with the Khaleesi from pretty much the get-go, and he’s had to deal with seeing her married to Khal Drogo, flirting with Daario Naharis, na giving (totally innocent, platonic) attention to other men like Ser Barristan, Grey Worm, and Xaro Xhoan Daxos. He wants her. Baaaaaad. HE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT HER LOVE AND AFFECTION (but yet, he somehow manages to keep breathing).
I feel for Jorah, because that was pretty much my entire experience with guys until I was in my 20s. I would almost always fall for guys that I was really good friends with. Unfortunately, I was always that girl that guys would go to when they had a girl question. Always the advice giver, never the advice subject. I have lived in the friendzone, and I know how sucky Jorah must feel (although if they follow the books, he’ll likely feel even worse soon).
Whether real of fictional, people are still people, and they go through many of the same issues. Relationship drama, puberty, and losing a loved one are all things that most people can find relatable. A long commute is a long commute, regardless of whether it’s by car, horse, or foot (though it’s considerably shorter by car, so just be glad you’re not stumbling through the Riverlands on foot the next time you’re grumbling on your way to work). So even though we don’t have awesome fire-breathing dragons, and they don’t have indoor plumbing, Game of Thrones isn’t that different from real life after all.