It’s safe to say that the final season of the most costly television series ever has not gone the way many fans hoped — particularly fans on the left, who have expressed a combination of despair and outrage over the collapse of the climate change theme and the direction of several of the female characters’ storylines, particularly Daenerys’ descent into a murderous, city-burning tyrant. But it’s not only left-leaning audience members who feel the producers have fumbled the final chapter, with many viewers taking issue with story and production decisions, including a notoriously dark final battle with the White Walkers and unsatisfying endings for some key characters.
So it’s not surprising that a fan-created petition for a redo of the final season — “with competent writers” — has rapidly racked up hundreds of thousands of signatures (h/t John Sexton).
A Change.org petition titled simply “Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers” has now amassed 350,000 signatures (200,000 of those in less than 24 hours), and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
“David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have proven themselves to be woefully incompetent writers when they have no source material (i.e. the books) to fall back on. This series deserves a final season that makes sense. Subvert my expectations and make it happen, HBO!” the succinct petition reads.
As The Daily Wire has noted, some of the strongest criticism of the final season has been ideologically driven. Among the complaints is that HBO “literally shattered” the show’s global warming theme, which book series’ author George R.R. Martin famously helped promote in an October 2018 interview with The New York Times, in which he touted the “great parallel” between the series’ “winter is coming” theme and climate change. “[T]he people in Westeros are fighting their individual battles over power and status and wealth,” said Martin. “And those are so distracting them that they’re ignoring the threat of ‘winter is coming,’ which has the potential to destroy all of them and to destroy their world. And there is a great parallel there to, I think, what I see this planet doing here, where we’re fighting our own battles.”
But the rather easy destruction of the Night King by a single character “shattered” that theme for Think Progress’s Joe Romm. “One of the show’s heroes single-handedly ended the existential climate threat with a clever knife trick — abruptly returning the storyline to a conventional tale of humans fighting among themselves for political power,” Romm wrote in a piece for the left-wing site. “In the real world, climate change is far too challenging a threat to be ended by one person — or even one battle that doesn’t include all of the major powers.”
The most impassioned criticisms, however, have revolved around some of the show’s key female characters. “Until recently, you could make the argument that Game of Thrones was a stealthily feminist show,” The Guardian’s Abigail Chandler wrote. “In its early years it might have lured in the typical male fantasy crowd with sex, violence and alpha-male characters like Ned and Robb Stark, Robert Baratheon and Jaime Lannister, but before you knew it a woman was on the Iron Throne, her main challenger was also a woman, and Westeros was stuffed full of female assassins, knights, wily politicos and Dame Diana Rigg. … Which is why it’s so frustrating to see the show slip back into its old ways in this final season. Coming off the back of The Long Night’s excellent twist ending – where Arya, rather than the expected hero Jon Snow, killed the Night King – the latest episode is especially disappointing. So many of the show’s strongest female characters were undermined by showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss, who also wrote this episode.”
Along with Daenerys’ spiral into paranoia, bitterness, and bloodlust, a scene with Sansa Stark suggesting being raped helped empower her has disturbed many fans, including actress Jessica Chastain. “Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger,” Chastain tweeted. “A woman doesn’t need to be victimized in order to become a butterfly. The #littlebird was always a Phoenix. Her prevailing strength is solely because of her. And her alone.”
Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger. A woman doesn’t need to be victimized in order to become a butterfly. The #littlebird was always a Phoenix. Her prevailing strength is solely because of her. And her alone.#GameOfThrones pic.twitter.com/TVIyt8LYxI
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) May 7, 2019
Slate’s Inkoo Kang also notes that feminist fans’ are in an “uproar” over “Brienne’s pleading with Jaime to stay by her side after their relationship turned briefly sexual” and “the ‘fridging’ of Missandei, whose death was particularly disappointing to viewers who’d grown attached to the show’s sole prominent woman of color.”
“Game of Thrones” is the most costly television series in history, with most episodes costing over $10 million, and around $15 million for the final few seasons.