Game of Thrones producer Bryan Cogman: says Season 6 not as dark as Season 5


Yesterday, we reported that Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss called Season 6 the most brutal season yet, at least from a production standpoint. Now, producer/writer Bryan Cogman is telling Entertainment Weekly that Season 6 isn’t as dark as Season 5.

"All of them [central characters] are now trying to rebuild their lives. Season 5 was in many ways our darkest. This season is still very dark, very intense, but it’s very much a next act."

Okay, so that’s not as paradoxical as it sounded at first. Season 6 is still dark, but Cogman thinks Season 5 took it to a grimmer place. Sansa’s wedding night and Shireen Baratheon’s horrifying death were plenty dark enough, and that’s without mentioning the Massacre at Hardhome, complete with the feeling of utter hopelessness viewers felt while watching the Night’s King raise thousands of wildlings from the dead.

EW asked Cogman what made Season 6 unique compared to previous seasons. First of all, he said this was the first season in awhile where they did read-throughs with the whole cast—now that the producers are making storylines up without reference to Martin’s books, they wanted to see how it all played out. Cogman also talked about worlds colliding, characters meeting, and former rivals being forced to work to work together. Importantly, he also said that the show’s mythology would be enriched. “There are a lot of thematic and explicit callbacks to season 1, and the seasons that preceded this one, and even to events that preceded them — in terms of the mythology” he said.

Mostly, though, it’s all about the bigness:

"We say this every year, but it’s true – this is the biggest season of Game of Thrones. It took me by surprise, just how big it is – and I helped write it!"

Naturally, Cogman commented on the show veering away from George R.R. Martin’s books, and while he admitted that things were going to be different, the show isn’t leaving the books behind entirely.

"While we’re still drawing from a lot of situations and arcs in the books, it’s obviously not a direct adaptation of any of the books this year. I will say you’ll see character versions and interpretations that are in some of the previous books that we hadn’t gotten to yet. I think of it as Westeros 2 – the alternate universe version of Westeros. There’s the book universe and a show universe and this is what happens in the show universe."

Unlike Benioff and Weiss, who have largely unplugged themselves, Cogman is known for interacting with fans on social media platforms (weirdly, his Twitter account has yet to be verified). That means he runs into a lot of criticism (maybe even from yours truly), but there’s also plenty of support:

"[I]t must be said that as much publicity the negative comments receive, the overwhelming majority of comments are supportive and positive. It’s not lost on me that it’s a rare and wonderful thing to be able to entertain this many people. And I’d rather be a part of something that gets a dialogue going than part of something boring that’s forgotten five minutes later…A lot of people were upset but the majority of the audience…understood it’s part of a grand scheme and I think viewers know we’re aiming toward something."

Cogman also mentions the “Doomsday people” who were saying that Game of Thrones would lose fans after Season 5. With hype for Season 6 at a fever pitch, that doesn’t look like it’s happened. He called out people who say that the producers do things purely for shock value, which was a complaint brought up last season, especially after “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” and Sansa’s horrific wedding night.

"Ultimately it’s putting characters through situations that are realistic. This is a story about a world war, and war is hell on everybody. The innocents and the vulnerable play a terrible price for the games rulers play…We’re not pulling this stuff out of thin air. It’s a very easy, and frankly very lazy thing to say, “Oh, they’re just doing this for shock value.” If that makes you feel better, fine, but we don’t do anything for shock value. The idea that we’re sitting around going, “What can we do to this person to shock people next?” … that’s [not] how this works."

I’m glad Cogman has the fortitude to stand up and be heard on this issue. It seems like we have some version of this conversation almost every year, as one or more scenes in each season causing controversy.

It’s fun to read how excited Bryan Cogman is about the new season, and with only four days left until the Season 6 premiere, it’s only going to get more exciting from here!