Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss recently revealed that they didn’t listen to fans’ feedback during the show’s eight-year run. Game of Thrones premiered in 2011 to rave reviews, and each subsequent season also enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive response from fans and critics. Then came season 8. Functioning as the final season of HBO’s behemoth series, the eighth season of Game of Thrones elicited outrage from most of its fanbase, and earned itself an abysmal Rotten Tomatoes rating. This marked dip in quality could’ve been due to the ending’s many plot twists, but many have cited its shortened length as the source of the problem.
Game of Thrones is based on George R. R. Martin’s acclaimed, unfinished A Song of Ice and Fire book series, and for a fair chunk of its long run, it remained faithful to its source material. But according to Martin himself, the show needed to be five seasons longer in order to capture the full scope of his saga.
Twitter user @ForArya live-tweeted a panel at the Austin Film Festival, where Benioff and Weiss were scheduled to speak. During the session, the showrunners explained the process involved in making Game of Thrones and even admitted that they didn’t listen to fans during the show’s production. They also confessed that they had no idea what they were doing at the beginning, weren’t sure how to do television, and were basically learning as they went.
Were you listening to the feedback to your fans as things went along?
Dan: “We really did not.”
Dan doesn’t see the value of considering other people’s reactions.
Dave acknowledged that he googled the show and it upset him. Dan, no. @dndgoogling
— Needle & Pen (@ForArya) October 26, 2019
None of this is particularly shocking. Benioff and Weiss had to deviate from the source material because Martin hasn’t published a proper A Song of Ice and Fire installment in eight years. They wanted to tell a story they could be proud of, but fans had different ideas about what would make the show better. The showrunners could’ve started with not leaving coffee cups and water bottles on set during filming though.
Goofs aside, show creators don’t owe their viewers anything besides a good story. Even if their idea of a good story differs from the fans’, it’s important to let them tell that story. Just because they didn’t listen to fans doesn’t mean they had bad intentions. They may have messed things up quite a few times (especially during the final season), but they told their version of the story. At the end of the day, should fans really fault them for that? Probably not. That said, when discussing Game of Thrones, Benioff and Weiss could certainly try to be a bit less arrogant, as many of the statements they made at the Austin Film Festival panel have earned the ire of fans, the above one included.
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