If you want to understand vital current issues like politics, war, immigration, and climate change, watch the HBO medieval fantasy epic “Game of Thrones”; this is the third greatest dramatic TV series ever behind only “The Wire” and “The Sopranos.”
You wouldn’t think to look for verisimilitude in a land of magic and dragons. But it’s there.
“Game of Thrones,” based on George R.R. Martin’s book series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” is a fantasy that subverts fantasy tropes.
Protagonist Ned Stark is a conventional Aragorn figure who is supposed to emerge as the hero but fails here.
Just like in the real world, his idealism and code of honor is upended by more Machiavellian characters like Cersei Lannister, herself tragically married off in a patriarchal society to a drunken, lecherous king that never loved her.
And those who’ve watched enough of the show to see “Red Viper” Oberyn Martell’s quest for justice against Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane should be happy that George R.R. Martin didn’t write Inigo Montoya’s story in “A Princess Bride.”
For much of the series, “Game of Thrones” consists of two intertwining central plots.
One is the war between the Stark family, lords of Winterfell in the north, and the Lannister family, ruling the Seven Kingdoms from the seat of the realm at King’s Landing.
Second is the quest to retake the Iron Throne by exiled “mother of dragons” Daenerys Targaryen, whose father King Aerys had been overthrown a generation before the events of the series take place.
But the people of Westeros, in their ultimately fruitless wars, are ignoring the real danger, which lies north of Winterfell beyond the giant ice wall marking the edge of Westerosi territory.
Just like humans today who ignore the existential threat of climate change, the Andals of Westeros ignore the coming long winter.
And hero Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch soldiers who guard the wall, gets rejected by his simple-minded brethren because he wishes to welcome in the Wildlings, the refugees on the other side of the wall.
Finally, for those wondering, there is our current American president, who once defended neo-Nazi and neo-Confederate White Walkers in Charlottesville.
He certainly campaigned as the cruel, petulant boy King Joffrey Baratheon and definitely governs as the “Mad King” Aerys Targaryen.
But Donald Trump’s truest avatar is Walder Frey.