Overview of Game of Thrones Season 5

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Written by Leah Onderdonk

The fifth season of the popular HBO series, “Game of Thrones,” based on the George R.R. Martin novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, premiered on April 12th.

The show has become very popular since 2011, and averages more than 14 million viewers and is the most pirated show worldwide. It’s fifth season has a 97% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

The content of the season is taken mostly from the fourth and fifth novels of the series, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, respectively, but includes some content from the third novel, A Storm of Swords.

The television series is also revealing things from novels that have not been published.

The show’s creator, David Benioff, agreed with Martin that there must be differentiations between the novels and the show, and said, “”I kind of wish there were some things we didn’t have to spoil, in terms of the books,” Benioff continued, “but we’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. The show must go on.”

Deviations from the novels have occurred due to the fact that the show has portrayed majority of the scenes from the published novels, and therefore has to create new material, and this has led to some criticism.

There’s such a double meaning to the word “spoil” there. I’m not sure it’s possible to spoil George’s books. As the show progresses, it becomes its own thing in some ways . . . just because something happens on TV doesn’t mean it will happen in the novels. To be a spoiler, there has to be certainty. And George [Martin] could very well change his mind as he writes these books,” said the show’s executive producer, David Benioff.

For example, in  “one of the most controversial episodes of the series,” as described by the Huffington Post, main character Sansa Stark was brutally raped on her wedding night by Ramsay Bolton, while in the novels, a girl posing as Sansa’s sister, Arya, was assaulted.

The series’s author, George R.R. Martin, defending the choices of the television show’s creators, said, “The show is the show, the books are the books – two different tellings of the same story,” and that “Prose and television have different strengths, different weaknesses, different requirements. More and more, they differ. Two roads diverging in the dark of the woods, I suppose, but all of us are still intending that at the end we will arrive at the same place.”

There is also a lot of sexual violence against women in the show, as well as the books, and that has been defended by some, while criticized by others.

“I think the intent is to show just how brutal Westeros—a gritty, bloody Medieval world—was to women, to poor, to the disenfranchised. Not to objectify or use women, or use things like rape to titillate,” said reviewer Erik Kahn from Forbes.

“Rape and sexual violence have been a part of every war ever fought, from the ancient Sumerians to our present day,” said George R.R. Martin, defending the rape featured in the show.

Sonia Ossorio, president of the New York Chapter of the National Organization of Women criticized the rape portrayal and said, “Gratuitous rape scenes feed the rape culture,” and that “HBO is guilty of this gratuity and of pornifying television in general.”

Although it has endured some criticism on multiple fronts, Game of Thrones continues to be popular, with 8 million people tuning in for season 5, which is a 17% increase in viewers from the previous season.

As for the future of the show, it is anticipated to get even better, and Benioff said, “expect a snowball effect.”