As I mention in the video, there absolutely are series that are deliberately built around mysteries. “Game of Thrones” has both long-running secrets, like the mysteries of Jon Snow’s (Kit Harrington) parentage, and stories that advance week by week. In a show that’s constructed that way, speculating over those mysteries is part of the point. But it seems a shame to let that speculation take over all the other pleasures that a show as big and rich as “Game of Thrones” or “Mad Men” affords us. And as I’ve found with shows like “True Detective,” which as I confess in the video above, lead me down some serious rabbit holes, this sort of sleuthing can lead us to convince ourselves that the shows we’re watching are better or more meaningful than they actually are.
I actually wonder if the tendency to try to solve serialized stories is one of the things animating the popularity of binge-watching. When you tear through a season of “House of Cards” or “Bloodline” in a few sittings, you can confirm your theories much sooner than is possible when you have to wait ten full weeks for a season of “Game of Thrones” to play out, or eight whole years to see for yourself if Matthew Weiner is pranking you or not when he says that Don Draper is not, in fact, D.B. Cooper. But in scarfing shows down whole, you also have less time for your brain to work over what you’ve just seen, and to develop those theories in the first place. So let’s try to sit back, relax, and absorb what’s happening without trying to outguess the story. The video above is my promise to try to keep that resolution with you — except when it comes to Jon Snow’s backstory. There, even I can’t resist.
A note: The pin I’m wearing in this video reads #FreeJason. The Jason in question is Jason Rezaian, our colleague here at The Washington Post, who is imprisoned by the Iranian government. You can read more about his incarceration here. Our pins are part of our efforts to raise awareness about his plight and our hopes for his freedom.