This Sunday marked the end of an era when HBO aired the concluding episode of “Game of Thrones,” the epic medieval fantasy series that took the TV-viewing world by storm when it premiered in 2011. Said concluding episode “The Iron Thrones” now counts as the most-watched of the whole series and the most-watched telecast on HBO period. The show was that important to many fans. That is why a vocal portion of them have expressed disappointment in how divergent the narrative became from the source novels written by George R. R. Martin. The vitriol is with fans around the world, including, quite surprisingly, in China.
According to Inquirer.net, Chinese fans of “Game of Thrones” were all on edge as they waited for streaming of “The Iron Throne,” made available in the country courtesy of online rights holder Tencent. When Tencent announced that their scheduled streaming of the finale was delayed on account of media transmission problems, audiences were further aggravated, forcing themselves away from social media all to avoid spoilers regarding who among the surviving leader characters would lay claim to the titular Iron Throne of Westeros. This was problematic for some Chinese office-workers who had taken time off for the original schedule to watch. It was also suspected that the delay was caused by the US-China trade disagreements that have led to the stateside blacklisting of smartphone maker Huawei.
When Tencent finally did get the episode on their media platform, the reaction of fans in China mirrored that of many other viewers around the world. Lots of them took to Weibo to vent their frustration at the episode and season 8 as a whole, decrying it as being very rushed in storytelling in order to reach a conclusion in only six episodes. The leading Weibo hash-tag regarding the series was the spoiler-laden #DragonMotherDies#, and it topped all topics on the China-only social media platform. It had garnered 350 million views and some 80,000 comments, selling just how big of a TV audience China is.
For the Chinese, their most favored viewpoint character had been Emilia Clarke’s Queen Daenerys, Mother of Dragons and Breaker of Chains and so on. Her fate in “The Iron Throne” so incensed many viewers that some of them talked about feeding show-runners Dave Benioff and D. B. Weiss (who did write the final episode) to a dragon. Others were simply disappointed at what they perceived as a lame denouement to a show that has been running for nearly a decade.
The official Tencent stream of “Game of Thrones” is also known for its cutting of content considered questionable by strict Chinese censors, such as extreme violence and sex scenes. Those fans that could not stand for such have been known to risk finding pirated copies of series episodes to watch. Not all social media reactions were negative though. Others expressed their sadness at the end of the show they have followed for years, as well as the eventual fate of all characters that fortunately survived.
Image courtesy of The Telegraph