This week we dedicated an entire episode of the show to Game of Thrones. The first time I ever watched Game of Thrones was during the first couple of months after graduating from college. I was a confused 22-year-old who was so frightened by the sight of the white walker in the first episode that I stopped watching seven minutes in. I tried again two years later when I was new to Chicago and suffering from this bug called unemployment. Nothing was scarier than all of the rejection letters I was getting, and I ended up binging three seasons of GoT in a month.
It took me a few more months to find a job, but between Game of Thrones and Girls, I started making friends via fandom. A few people would gather each Sunday night, watch the show, talk about the episode, and gradually transition into sharing parts of our lives. Game of Thrones gave me the confidence to open up to strangers who I wouldn’t have spoken to otherwise. Suddenly there was common ground between myself and my weird cousin, who is really into guns. I wasn’t searching for a way out of the conversation with the sweaty guy at the bar. My roommate, who hated me, hated me a little less when we found out we shared an unpopular love of Cersei Lannister.
Last year while living in Los Angeles, I found myself yet again unemployed and very new to the city. I lived with three 23-year-old guys who were absolute aliens to me. Their interests were: not-cleaning the stove, dub step, sports, and weirdly, The Bachelor. We had almost nothing in common but Game of Thrones. Every Sunday the four of us sat together like a good multicultural millennial family and watched GoT. It was the only time we ever gathered together and one of the few instances that I enjoyed their company without being mad about beard hairs on the bathroom counter. A television show became tradition in our household. And the stories in Game of Thrones became our common narrative. When you watch a show as dense as Game of Thrones for so many seasons, the experience of watching becomes the journey in itself.
The community that can be built around things like Game of Thrones, as trivial as that may sound, is one of the greatest things about pop culture. I guess this is why people like football. We are allowed to argue and commiserate over rival houses without risk of personal offense. It’s the kind of genuine discussion that is rare in our identity-obsessed world. Whether it’s GoT, games shows, or witch house music, find something to root for, especially if you are looking for a community. Pop culture gives us a chance to pull others in who we traditionally keep out.