Will Game of Thrones become a hit for HBO or just another decent show? Certainly from the fans’ point of view seeing the story we love retold on screen will be exciting. But will the story capture the imagination of the general public?
The general consensus among the fan base is that the show is destined for success. And it seems to have the recipe for becoming the next True Blood or Sopranos. The characters, the setting, the intrigue, the action, the romance… all add up to a show that people will want to watch and talk about the next day around the water cooler. The quality of the show seems to be there as well. A great cast, an amazing crew, and show runners that are doing their best to stay faithful to the books while keeping the budget down.
But as we know, quality doesn’t always translate into a large audience. Look at The Wire, as an example. It was widely considered one of the greatest TV shows of all time, yet it never did capture the imagination of the general public. It’s ratings were low and on any other network, it would have been canceled after a season or two. So what was the problem?
One issue may have been the gritty urban setting, which could have turned a number of viewers off. Unfortunately a medieval fantasy setting may be even more of a turn-off to the average viewer. Then there is the genre, The Wire exists in the crime drama genre. The amount of crime dramas on TV are numerous and capturing the public’s imagination in that setting proved to be difficult. Fantasy doesn’t have the quantity of shows that crime dramas do, but the fantasy shows that are out there are low-budget and low-quality which may hurt Thrones‘ public perception. Lastly there is the aspect of characters with moral ambiguity. Sometimes people just like a basic good-vs.-evil story and a show with realistic characters may be depressing to the average viewer who’s just looking for some escapism. The Wire had a lot of these “gray” characters. Guess what? Thrones does too.
So where does that leave us? Will Game of Thrones become a phenomenon on the level of True Blood or just another The Wire, a great show but one that failed to capture a large audience? It could go either way. One advantage for Thrones’ is it’s passionate fan base. That passion is infectious and I’ve already seen how it can spread and add potential viewers. But will that be enough to make the show into the huge hit we are all hoping for?