The Witcher is better than Game of Thrones, because he knows it’s funny, but he doesn’t care

One-time Game of Thrones guest-star Ian McShane upset its fans a few years ago when he said the show is “only t*ts and dragons.” But McShane was just pointing out the innate ridiculousness of the HBO fantasy series, says Helen Lewis. By contrast, she adds, Netflix’s The Witcher has embraced what Game of Thrones was supposedly about. The Witcher, says Lewis, isn’t “only t*ts and dragons.’ It’s all about the t*ts and dragons. Until I saw it, I hadn’t realized how debilitating it can be for a program to be ashamed of itself. An episode of Game of Thrones often looked like everyone involved was thinking: I went to drama school so I could make profound meditations on the human condition, yet here I am in the snow, with my leg cut off, while some naked priestess spouts gibberish. The Witcher shares the Game of Thrones attitude toward gore (plentiful) and nudity (gratuitous), but its tone could not be more different. It knows it is ridiculous, and it simply doesn’t care.” What makes the series based on Polish fantasy author Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels enjoyable is that it “comes free of the cultural baggage that afflicts so many fantasy stories, which strive so hard to be serious that they overshoot wildly, ending up in pure camp,” says Lewis. “The Witcher knows full well that it’s camp, and that’s okay. A series where the main characters dress like chucking-out time at a Berlin fetish club is never going to convince you it’s a gritty epic by Martin Scorsese. But who cares? That said, the cheerful self-awareness of The Witcher should not be confused with artlessness. It might be silly, but it’s not dumb. Notably, there isn’t much tacky Ye Olde English dialogue. Horses are horses, not ‘trusty steeds.’ No one goes ‘yonder.’ The television series demands that the viewer quickly learn about a blizzard of characters, place-names, and odd quirks (such as the Law of Surprise, which drives two major plot points).”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.