Lessons Learned From a 67-Hour Game of Thrones Rewatch

So here’s how my 67-hour Game of Thrones rewatch has gone so far:

Season 1: This is so much fun! I remember why I used to love this show. Look at all the visual detail! The foreshadowing! The impressive amount of history and backstory and emotion these actors are able to communicate in a single glance!

Season 2: Heh, this is a lot of television to watch at one time! Still going to be totally worth it, though. I’m participating in a cultural phenomenon!

Seasons 3–5: I NEVER WANT TO WATCH FIVE HOURS OF TELEVISION A DAY AGAIN.

At this point, the primary reason why I’m still watching Game of Thrones is because I’ve watched too many episodes to quit now. I am almost done with Season 5, which means I’m finally getting to the episodes I haven’t seen before*, and I should be very nearly (if not completely) caught up by the the Season 8 premiere on Sunday.

However, every other life metric over the past week has gotten worse.

This isn’t, btw, because I’m canceling other plans to spend more time with Game of Thrones. In the eight days since I started this watch-a-thon, I rode bikes with my dad and had lunch with my parents and met up with friends and went to multiple choir rehearsals and so on. I kept up with my exercise and my sleep; it wasn’t like I was watching these episodes into the wee hours of the night or anything.

But my sleep got worse, even though I spent the same number of hours in bed—probably because I skipped my usual “wind down with a book” time to fit in one more episode.

My mood got worse, even though I was doing something I theoretically wanted to do, probably because I was spending too much time focused on a single activity (and a single laptop screen). Sometimes I chose to give Game of Thrones partial focus while I did the dishes or whatever, and that just made me worry that I was missing something important, either with the show or the dishes.

My creative output (and the NEXT BOOK drafting process) got way worse, probably because I eliminated all free time that might have gone towards making creative connections. There was no opportunity for new thoughts to occupy my thoughts. Any spare minute was spent staring at Game of Thrones — and although I hoped it would teach me something important about storytelling, it mostly taught me about how formulaic these episodes actually are, when you watch them one after the other.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s a very effective formula. Cliffhangering every scene, for example, is a great way to keep people watching. So is having a character reveal a profound childhood memory right before making a big decision or launching into battle… until you see it happen 40 times in a row. (Then you start wondering why none of these people ever learned anything important after the age of 10.)

I am not going to use this as an argument for television being bad or anything. There’s a lot of really great television out there, and I’ve seen my share of it.

The real lesson is, of course, about balance — and I have lived a very unbalanced life over the past week, and have a few more unbalanced days to go. ❤️

*As you might remember, I stopped watching Game of Thrones after the first episode of Season 5, due to a combination of heartbreak and a disastrous season premiere party.

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