Kit Harington: Critics who hate on Game of Thrones season 8 “can go f*ck themselves”

Credit: HBO
Credit: HBO /

Here’s a hot one. So Esquire just published its May cover story, which features an interview with Game of Thrones star Kit Harington (Jon Snow). He talks about the final season, he talks about first getting the gig…but probably his most interesting comments are about how he’s feeling “quite defiant” about the show right now. “I think no matter what anyone thinks about this season—and I don’t mean to sound mean about critics here—but whatever critic spends half an hour writing about this season and makes their [negative] judgement on it, in my head they can go fuck themselves.”

"‘Cause I know how much work was put into this. I know how much people cared about this. I know how much pressure people put on themselves and I know how many sleepless nights working or otherwise people had on this show. Because they cared about it so much. Because they cared about the characters. Because they cared about the story. Because they cared about not letting people down. Now if people feel let down by it, I don’t give a fuck—because everyone tried their hardest. That’s how I feel. In the end, no one’s bigger fans of the show than we are, and we’re kind of doing it for ourselves. That’s all we could do, really. And I was just happy we got to the end."

Okay, there’s a bunch to unpack here. So on the one hand, I understand that Harington and his colleagues on the cast and crew put a ton of work into the final season of Thrones — like, ton of work — and of course no one wants to see their efforts crapped on. And let’s remember that Harington is qualifying that this is just what happens “in my head.” It’s not like he’s calling up critics and yelling at them.


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On the other hand, hard work doesn’t disqualify anyone from criticism. Game of Thrones is a television show and it’s okay to have opinions on it, positive and negative. Criticism is valuable and fun. If you have something to say about Game of Thrones, you certainly shouldn’t let Kit Harington’s hypothetical hatred get in your way.

But back on the first hand, all the negativity can get exhausting. Vox writing about how Game of Thrones doesn’t feature second acts anymore, The Ringer on Tyrion becoming dumber, Thrillist on how Cersei’s plan “doesn’t make any sense,” The Washington Post on how the Jon-Dany scene was like “a bad rom-com”…and we’re not even touching discussions on Reddit and the like. Some of these criticisms I agree with and some I don’t, but in some cases it feels like people are having knee-jerk reactions and passing them off as considered takes. And if that’s frustrating for me, I can only imagine what it’s like for someone who works on the show.

And to be fair, there are plenty of people digging into the episode and finding things to laud about it, like all the ways the opening procession alludes to the series’ past, or John Bradley’s performance as a painfully torn Sam, or the layered reunion between Jon and Arya, or the silent sledgehammer of an ending between Bran and Jaime, and on and on. It’s not hard to find things worthy of dissection, or to take new angles on scenes you don’t didn’t immediately enjoy. But people are gluttons for punishment, and criticism will always stand out more than praise; that’s just how we’re wired.

So I’m of two minds here. If you love the show, love it. If you want to criticize the show, criticize it. Just be respectful of other people either way; otherwise Kit Harington might yell at you.

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Harington did have a few more general things to say about the final season. “This season, we got kind of philosophical about it all and what it might mean,” he said. “You know, trying to make sense of these last eight years of what we’ve been doing. For me, really, I felt that the world was the main character. Yeah, you could point to Jon, or Dany, or Tyrion, or Jaime Lannister. You can point to any one of the characters and kind of make your case for them being a lead. And Jon’s definitely in that category.”

"I’ve gone in in my own right and pitched TV shows and [the executives] always want to know to know, “Who are we following? Who are we following? There’s got to be a central character? Who are we following?” Still. And what’s amazing about Thronesis you’re not following anyone person. You’re following who you want to follow. But really, this world you’re in—Westeros, Dorne, Narrow Sea, this fantasy world—that’s the main character. Which is very hard to do. In a way, the art department is the main character."

That checks out:

Finally, Harington talked about what made Thrones attractive to him — and to viewers — in the first place:

"This world has a history…In Thrones, you’re entering when Jon Arryn’s been killed by someone. You’re like, Well, what was that story? Oh, too late! We’re on. And I think that’s why it might have grabbed people’s imagination like Star Wars did. It took them completely away from their universe into another universe. And we forget that it’s a universe that doesn’t physically work, where a winter lasts for X amount of years. How does that work, planetary-wise? But you just don’t question it. You’re in the world, and you go, okay!"

We’re in it now.

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