When Only One Half of a Couple Cares About Game of Thrones

Daenerys and Jon Snow.
TFW you just want him to understand what’s happening on Sunday nights. Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

While on a beach vacation last month, I made sure that my fiancé and I were back at our hotel room in time for me to watch Game of Thrones. Halfway through, I looked over to find him reading the Wikipedia page for Mötley Crüe. In the eight years since the show’s been on, he still hasn’t seen a full episode; sometimes on Sunday nights, he’ll pop into the living room and ask me if they’ve made it to Mordor yet. While our cultural interests more or less overlap, I’ve come to accept that Game of Thrones — all fantasy, really — falls firmly on my side of the Venn diagram.

The truth is that, even though Game of Thrones feels like a totally inescapable cultural phenomenon, millions of people are serenely living their lives completely ignoring it. So what if you’re obsessed and your partner doesn’t care at all? What if you just want to enjoy your Sunday nights in peace without hearing about dragons and incest? Before the series finale, the Cut interviewed three couples — and one platonic set of roommates — where that’s the case. Because while all men must die, not all men must watch.

Izzy (a fan) and Andy (not a fan), married 11 years

On whether Izzy’s tried to get Andy to watch: 
Izzy: I know Andy’s taste in TV, and it’s the opposite of Game of Thrones. He likes things that are set in reality, especially the New York City version of reality. So I never really tried, although I do love attempting to explain plot points to him. (“The thing you have to understand is that the dragons can theoretically beat the zombies, but one of the dragons IS a zombie.”)

Andy: I don’t doubt that the show is awesome, but the Medieval-style setting and dark color palette intimidated me. I suspect I’m one of the few people who’s a bigger fan of D.B. Weiss’s novel Lucky Wander Boy than GOT.

On their Sunday night routine:
Andy: When she’s watching I’ll usually do a crossword puzzle and maybe take a shower.

Izzy: We have two small kids who tend to treat bedtime like their own personal Battle of Winterfell, and sometimes on Sundays I don’t have the energy to watch once they’re down. So I usually just try to sneak it in whenever I can during the week. Inevitably Andy always walks by at the exact moment someone is being beheaded.

Isaac (a fan) and Cat (not a fan), dating six months

On whether Cat’s tried to watch:
Cat: Truthfully, I haven’t. By the time the thought “what if I got on this bandwagon?” entered my head, it felt like it was too late, and I binge enough TV as it is. People who do watch it — which also includes my mom, sister, roommate, and several close friends — often tell me they don’t think I’d like it because I don’t usually go for high fantasy. I feel like the fans can be worse than the thing itself, like CrossFit or Phish.

On whether they’ve fought about the show:
Isaac: We don’t fight about it. I know she thinks it’s dumb, and the show’s been busily proving her correct all season. I know when to pick my battles (unlike anyone in Westeros).

On whether Cat’s looking forward to it being over:
Cat: I’m so relieved. I just want to be able to use Twitter on Mondays again.

Matt (a fan) and Holly (not a fan), married seven years

On whether Matt’s tried to get Holly to watch:
Matt: I just tried to get her to join when I started the series. “Ned Stark? Pass,” was her answer. I begrudgingly had to respect it. Since then she’s shown no more interest and also mocks me.

On their Sunday night routine:
Holly: I usually sigh and run away into the bedroom and say I’m reading but look at Instagram for an hour.

Matt: I purchase one “special beer” to drink during the show, and then drink said beer.

On whether they’ve fought about Game of Thrones:
Holly: Not in a Red Wedding kind of way. (That was pretty good, right? I mean, I don’t live under a rock.)

Matt: No, but she’ll be constantly texting me during the show from the bedroom, to turn the volume down on my “murder show.”

On whether Holly’s looking forward to the show ending:
Holly: No. I like that Matt stays up until 10 p.m. one night a week.

Emilia (a fan) and Jess (not a fan), platonic roommates for five years

On whether Jess has tried to watch:
Jess: I watched the first six episodes of the first season (with an ex, no less) and said no more, thank you very much. I also tried to watch an episode with Emilia years ago when we first moved in together which provoked a passionate argument about whether it took place in the “past” (my conclusion) or in “no specific time/ on an alternate but concurrent timeline” (Emilia’s). Perhaps my issue is that I take the show too literally.

On whether they’ve fought about Game of Thrones:
Emilia: Jess walked in at the very end of episode two this season, when everyone is all sad because they think they’re going to die. She smoked a joint and said something like, “This show is stupid,” and I got really defensive and punished her by watching the producer’s notes after I then explained to her how everyone is really invested in these characters after eight years, and that even though it’s corny, this season is like us saying good-bye. She was high so she bought it.

Jess: My recollection of that event is a bit different. I believe I said it’s a glorified soap opera, and it’s unfair that everybody gets to watch it without being shamed for loving a soap opera that predominantly features hot people standing around in dark rooms and chatting, with the occasional jousting session or taboo sexual escapade. But who knows which of our memories should be trusted in this case?

Emilia: We’ve never fought about anything except who should buy the coffee beans and whether or not GOT is stupid.

When Only One Half of a Couple Cares About Game of Thrones