(including of course, for some, the differences between book and TV treatments). For people to choose ‘favourites’ is bound to be complicated, and any research into such choices must work with those complexities.
We asked people two side-by-side questions, inviting them to tell us who their favouritecharacters were, and their favourite survivors , and why. Some responded briefly, with single or multiple character names, while others gave us long discursive answers, in a few cases reaching as high as 1,000 words of intense commentary. How does our
– as we might expect, given HBO's choice to play the game of controversy around presentations of nudity, sex and sexual violence. Audiences’ choices are strongly skewed by gender, as Table 5.1 (recording proportions of mentions by gender)
Gendered choices of favouritecharacters and survivors
The eight-season-long HBO television adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones was an international sensation, generating intense debates and controversies in many spheres. In 2016–17, an international research project gathered more than 10,000 responses to a complex online survey, in which people told of their feelings and judgements towards the series. The project was an ambitious attempt to explore the role that ‘fantasy’ plays in contemporary society. This book presents the project’s major outcomes. It explores people’s choices of favourite characters and survivors. It looks at the way modern works of fantasy relate to people’s sense of their own world, and what is happening to it. It explores the way that particular televisual decisions have generated controversies, most notably in relation to presentations of nudity, sex and sexual violence. The book uses the project’s distinctive methodology to draw out seven ways in which audiences watched the series, and shows how these lead to different responses and judgements. Notably, it leads to a reconsideration of the idea of ‘lurking’ as a problematic way of participating. A pair of complex emotions – relish and anguish – is used to make sense of the different ways that audiences engaged with the ongoing TV show. The book closes with an examination of the debates over the final season, and the ways in which audiences demanded ‘deserved’ endings for all the characters, and for themselves as fans.
seeking any kind of a sample, be that random, quota or purposive. Rather, we wanted to richly populate all the categories within our questionnaire, in order to be able to interrogate the relations among choices and answers. We were therefore interested in having a sufficiency of all kinds of answer to be able to explore with confidence the interrelations among them, and the kinds of interest and judgement that are made (e.g., ratings, importance, favouritecharacters and attitudes to spoilers, etc.).
‘If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention’
Martin Barker, Clarissa Smith, and Feona Attwood
‘deserve’ – the idea of in-world reward for Aegon/Jon, the requirement that Daenerys experience remorse (a moral as well as ‘judicial’ reckoning for her actions), and that Cersei's ‘raging queen’ is entitled to a spectacular death. Running a search in the petition comments for each of the top six favouritecharacters (plus one other, Cersei, on a hunch), and looking at raw counts of ‘mentions’, we found that adding the word ‘deserve’ produced some interesting results. Overall in our database (see Chapter 4 ), the running order was: Tyrion, Jon, Arya, Jaime, Daenerys and
understandings of it – for instance, towards actress Jennifer Lawrence's association with the part? We do not mean these queries as criticisms – the book, and this essay, are wonderfully provocative – but we do think that our study of GoT 's audiences can go some way towards positing and answering these kinds of question.
As we have seen in our explorations of favouritecharacters, lands and peoples, GoT has offered its audiences rich resources for thinking about the world of Westeros which they have, to varying degrees, taken up, debated, rejected
their island: ‘In a few
minutes they arrived at the cove; the water was shallow, and as clear as
crystal. Beneath the boat’s bottom they could see beautiful
shells, and the fish darting about in every direction.’ 14 The island at
moments seems an asylum; William and Ready, the story’s favouritecharacters, do not really want to leave it.
This was a highly popular version of the Robinson story
Friulian poems from La meglio
gioventù , heaven and earth constitute a singular Arcadian scene, an
idyllic place simultaneously affirmed and negated. Pasolini extolled the
communion of the high and low as a sort of indistinctness of origins. The
world appeared to him as the emanation of the body of Narcissus (the
favouritecharacter of his poems at the time) that contemplates its own
dissemination and dismemberment in nature
favoured/loved characters (‘memorables’/’uncomfortables’):
For sure nobody can forget the red wedding! I was so shocked and sad in that episode. I mean I knew GOT can kill your favouritecharacters any time but I thought the Starks had more to give! I couldn't believe a whole army and house could get destroyed in a wedding night! Saaaad, but cool. After that point i stopped having any hopes for the guys I like in the series. (#560/memorable)
Robb and Catelyn Stark were two of
pleasures of Butterflies was its articulation of a female viewpoint in the public realm of television where it was shared with their families: ‘I willed her “to do it” but in the 1970s, you didn’t, not on a family TV show’. Of the respondents who were in partnerships at the time, most watched Butterflies with their husbands and families; a minority commented that their husbands and children also found it funny, a few that their husbands refused to watch it because it was a ‘women’s programme’.
Although respondents remembered Ria and most named her as their favourite