Television has always been a cultural touchstone for me growing up. I remember the rush home to catch the season finales of Lost and 24 so I wouldn’t miss out on the conversation the next day. When my wife was in college I bought her a DVD recorder that we would set on a timer to record shows on to a blank DVD. When TIVO and recording came around it was a Godsend. This is how television has always been to me. The collective pop culture experience that would take the next day at work discussing everything we all watched together. I understand this way of consuming media has been dying for years but it struck me a few days ago that April and May are the true end of an era, specifically with Game of Thrones.
In April, Game of Thrones begins its final run. Streaming TV has made event TV obsolete and Game of Thrones is the last stand of week to week episodes that no one gives a crap about if they spoil you. It is the last TV show that 90% of everyone kind of just shrugs off your spoiler concerns when discussing the show 18 hours after it airs. You will feel left out or behind if you don’t watch Game of Thrones Sunday night… what other show feels like that in 2019? I’d argue none. Seriously, Monday morning after Thrones airs Brad from the next office over isn’t going to feel bad if you overhear him talk about a death in the show the night before. “You should’ve watched!”
Of course there are great television shows that air week to week but none of them capture the shared cultural experience of Thrones. On top of that there are many streaming shows that are very well done that can’t capture the country the way Game of Thrones does. I truly enjoy Stranger Things but I saw the trailer for season 3 premiering on July 4th weekend and thought, “I’ll start it after a pool filled weekend with fire works.” I’m sure others will binge it that entire morning it is release and others won’t even start it until Christmas. You won’t find a large group discussing it in great detail because we are all consuming it at different speeds, manners, and sometimes even years! I mean I’ve never even heard someone concerned about Daredevil spoilers or asking if I’m caught up on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or if The Umbrella Academy sets up a second season. Some people may never even hear of those shows! None of them will ever spend the community time discussing predictions at work all day Monday or firing up the group text at 9:05pm when Thrones ends. Those days feel over in May when Game of Thrones wraps this final season.
I don’t want to sound like an old weirdo complaining about these damn young kids and their streaming. I love streaming. This is just a realization that the last show my work colleagues, parents, friends, and strangers all plan their day around ends in mid-May. I’m excited for the future of TV but it does make me sad that this feels like a send off to the old way of watching.
So gather around the TV and enjoy Game of Thrones everyone. It is the end of an era. It is a true pop culture touchstone that people will talk about decades from now. Just appreciate it, it likely won’t happen again. Appreciate the fact that Shelia from accounting and Colby from IT are all willing to sit around and argue about the ramifications of incest and dragon murder on Monday mornings with you for the 8 more weeks. Trust me neither of them will ever want to hear your theories about Jack Ryan season 2.