Wise astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson describes a black hole as "a hole in the three-dimensional fabric of space." You can fall into it from any direction, and once you're in, you don't come out. Well, I have fallen very far and very hard into a cultural black hole, and I cannot find the light. I've never seen a single minute of Game of Thrones.
How did this happen? Why am I willingly denying myself this basic HBO subscriber's right and the shared cultural experience that comes with it? What is my problem? Please allow me to explain.
There are so many shows to flirt with these days that if you choose to skip over one, repercussions are minor. Sit out on House of Cards and, oh, well, everyone's already on to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. No big whoop -- unless the show reaches what I call "streamroller" status. That's when a show has passed its tipping point and begins oppressively and relentlessly rolling over everything in its path. Viewers become fanatics. The New York Times publishes episode recaps. People read about the stars' personal lives in, well, People.
If you're watching a streamrolling series, this collective enjoyment is like being invited to a fantastic party. But if you miss the first episode, the first season, the second… well, then you find yourself sitting at home eating frozen Trader Joe's macarons while everyone else is at the Met Gala.
I love being streamrolled by a TV series! But Game of Thrones premiered at a point when I couldn't add another show to my list. (We all have a list, right?) During the first season, my co-worker Paula arrived on a Monday morning and said, with the fervor of a newly inducted cult member, "You MUST watch Game of Thrones." Little did I know how those six words would haunt me. I'd compare living in this strange bubble to Matt Damon's experience on Mars, but -- another confession -- I didn't see The Martian, either. So here's what it's actually like.