From 2014 to 2019, the “Dear Television” section of Los Angeles Review of Books published recap essays for every episode of HBO’s tentpole drama, Game of Thrones. They were authored initially by Sarah Mesle and, for the final three seasons, by the team of Mesle and Aaron Bady, who provided for the LARB readership a space of reception which was reproduced on dozens of publications, podcasts, and websites who served the overwhelming public appetite for GoT and its source material, authored by George R. R. Martin. In a viral essay for The Ringer, Alison Herman dubbed it television’s “last vestige of the monoculture.”
Game of Thrones ended on the precipice of The Streaming Wars, which began with the launch of Disney+ and Apple TV+ in November of 2019, followed by HBOMax, Peacock in Spring of 2020. The Streaming Wars have been a backdrop to this season of The American Vandal Podcast, “HBO: From Pulp To Prestige,” and particularly the Fall of Franchises, a season during which HBO’s much anticipated GoT sequel, House of the Dragon, has been going “head to head” with two other tentpole dramas, Amazon’s Rings of Power and Disney+’s Andor.
In the second episode of this podcast series, J.D. Connor dubbed these the “cash dragons,” series of series set with the same fictional worlds which are expected to play a disproportionate role in attracting subscribers to the competing streaming platforms and which, as such, are valued highly. Amazon, for instance, has committed over $1 Billion to Rings of Power, making it the most expensive TV series ever produced.
Aaron Bady is editor at Stanford Social Innovation Review. Previously, he was an editor at Popula and The New Inquiry. His writing and interviews have appeared in publications including The Week, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Pacific Standard.
Michelle Chihara is Associate Professor of English at Whittier College, as well as Director of the Whittier Scholars Program. She is co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Literature & Economics (2018) and the Economics & Finance Section Editor at Los Angeles Review of Books, where, in 2013, she published “Being Theon Greyjoy, or Why This Dick In A Box Matters.” Dr. Chihara has also appeared three times before on The American Vandal Podcast, most recently to discuss gigwork and platform capitalism.
Sarah Mesle is Associate Professor of Writing at University of Southern California, Senior Editor at Large the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the editor of LARB Channel Avidly and the NYU short book series Avidly Reads. A frequent contributor to the “Dear Television” section, most recently she authored a review of House of The Dragon titled “The Heirs & Their Hair.”
Thanks again to The Snarlin’ Yarns for providing this season’s theme song, “Don’t Go Fishing.”
Roger Bennett & Tommy Vietor, World Corrupt (Crooked Media, 2022)
Michelle Chihara, “Being Theon Greyjoy, or Why This Dick In A Box Matters” (LA Review of Books, 11.2.2022)
J.C. Connor, “+” (LA Review of Books, 6.1.2019)
J.D. Connor, Matt Seybold, & Olivia Stowell, “The Rehearsal, Reality TV, & Warner Brothers Discovery” (The American Vandal, 9.20.2022)
Silvia Federici, Caliban & The Witch (Autonomedia, 2004)
Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, & Self-Making in 19th-Century America (25th Anniversary Edition) (Norton, 2022)
Saidiya Hartman, “The Hold of Slavery” (New York Review of Books, 10.24.2022)
Saidiya Hartman & Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, “Saidiya Hartman” (Bomb Magazine, 10.24.2022)
Alison Herman, “The Very Last Piece of the TV Monoculture” (The Ringer, 7.12.2017)
George R. R. Martin, Fire & Blood (Bantam, 2018)
Sarah Mesle, “The Heirs & Their Hair: On HBO’s House of The Dragon“ (LA Review of Books, 10.24.2022)
Brian Phillips, 22 Goals (The Ringer, 2022)
Jeremy Schapp, “Qatar’s World Cup” (E:60, 11.6.2022)
Jeremy Schapp, “Qatar’s World Cup” (E:60, 5.13.2014)
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “The Enduring Power of Scenes of Subjection“ (The New Yorker, 10.17.2022)
Stephanie Tobin & Rosanna Guadagno, “Why People Listen: Motivations & Outcomes of Podcast Listening” (Plos One, 4.6.2022)
Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894)
Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Detective (1895)
Kristen Warner, “Fans with Feels: Game of Thrones as Soap Opera” (LA Review of Books, 5.18.2019)