When I bought the third season of Game Of Thrones for Aaron, the teller asked me if I’d seen it yet.
“Sort of,” I shrugged. “My husband’s into it, so I get him to fill me in on the plot details, but I’m not super into it. This is for him.”
He asked me why I didn’t like it, and I paused for a moment.
“I don’t know, really… I guess I just have a really low tolerance for dragons?”
This is true. Outside of the occasional heavy metal song, Puff, and Piff, dragons have never really done it for me. And I’ve struggled to maintain interest in a lot of non-Dune fantasy stuff since my grade four obsession with Tolkien started to wane. I like Doctor Who just fine, but I came to that fandom via the original Queer As Folk. Game Of Thrones just isn’t my speed.
I come by this honestly enough. Outside of Buffy and the Star Trek universe, my mom’s more interested in cannibals and nerds than the fantastical. She hadn’t seen a single minute of Game Of Thrones… until Sunday night.
That was when Jane Kurchak woke up in the middle of SPOILER’s walk of bell-ringing shame and tried to make sense of what the fuck she was watching. She told me about what had happened the next day, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. So I finally asked her if I could interview her about it. She agreed. Now we all get to enjoy her wisdom on shame, use of rotten vegetables, and “that fucking chicken” from Family Guy.
(SPOILER ALERT: The season finales of Game Of Thrones and Silicon Valley. And every episode of Family Guy when the chicken shows up.)
First of all I want to set the scene. You were napping in front of a TV playing HBO on Sunday night. Why?
Because I needed to see the season finale of Silicon Valley and I have, on occasion, fallen asleep before the show started. So I set an alarm to go off at probably about five minutes to 10 p.m. so that I’d be awake and ready so I could catch my show at 10.
But you didn’t need to the alarm to wake up.
Absolutely not. It was one of those thing where… way off in the distance, you hear this bell. “Shame!” Ding. “Shame!” Ding. So, three hours later, I’m thinking “Ok! Shame! Ding! Shame!” I sat there and I watched this woman walk through all of these people and it kept going and going. And then you’re thinking, “How many camera changes? Did she just do this one big walk? Are they gonna switch cameras?” And then it was “Ok, they could put a lot into this scene because they didn’t have to pay the writer because all they wrote was ‘Shame’.” And that bell. And then… of course, there’s your father who’s sitting in the other room reading a book, and he walked into the room, took a look at the TV, stepped out of the room. That was it. Didn’t say a word.
And you didn’t talk about it later, or anything?
We didn’t even mention it, no. Not at all. We have never discussed that moment.
I’m curious… I know that if I wake up to some sort of medium, there’s a moment where I’m not conscious yet and it sort of filters into my subconscious state. I remember, in grade four, I had a radio alarm, and before I woke up I had this whole song and dance dream to “Let’s Give Him Something To Talk About” going in my head because it had started playing on the radio. Was there a moment where you weren’t fully awake and were trying to process “SHAME. SHAME?”
(laughs) You’re right… it was way off the distance and it was the bell, first of all, because you could hear this clang clang, and that could drift into anybody’s dream. But I can tell you, I’ve never had a “SHAME” dream. But it was that. And then again. And then it got more… not so much the bell and the word “shame” but the repetitive nature of it and that’s where you wake up slowly and you keep going it’s like “Ok… Ok…” Then that’s what it was. So no, it didn’t become part of a dream… I guess I did assume it was a TV show, but typically in a TV show there is dialogue or music. There was just that.
Honestly, how long did that go? How long is that show on the air? Is that an hour show?
It’s an hour show.
Well then half an hour was that.
You probably slept through half of it, too.
Oh come on! Was it from the beginning?
Yeah, the whole hour was just “SHAME.” No, she also had to confess her shame, and then they lubed up her boobs and cut her hair off.
Oh, I missed all that. Is that why the food wasn’t sticking to her boobs?
That’s probably it.
I thought, “They’re throwing food at her. That’s not very nice.” But then clearly there was some reason for this whole “SHAME.” I don’t know why the bell because the voice was shrill enough. But then I looked, and suddenly she has bloody bits and then I thought, “I didn’t even notice when they started throwing nasty stuff at her.” And then suddenly they show her feet. And I thought, “Oh, she’s clearly walking on the nasty stuff that they’ve thrown at her.”
You’ve put a lot of thought into this.
I’ve put way too much thought into it.
I think it’s a case where you’re waiting for a show like Silicon Valley like, “Oh my god, this show is so funny, I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen even though it totally stresses me out!” And then there’s this. And this is the show that everybody’s talking about. And I thought, “That’s it?”
I clearly… how many seasons has it had? I have clearly missed nothing.
That was actually my next question: What lasting impression did it have and would you watch the show again?
I don’t need to watch the show. I have… In five seasons, I saw probably 10 minutes of the show. That’s all I need. I’m done with Game Of Thrones. That’s it.
I supposed if I’d had the background and… no, still. I don’t think I have any kind of attention span problem, but I was struggling to stick with that show.
It was a gratuitous scene.
Is that what they do? Is that what that show is?
There’s a lot of that, yeah.
Because they piss everybody off. I don’t even know what it was, but there was some Red Wedding or whatever. Everybody lost their shit over that. “Oh my god! Jon Snow died!” I don’t even know who that is. But that’s all I’m hearing. Why aren’t people talking about the good shows like SILICON VALLEY? Holy shit, Richard’s not CEO anymore.
I don’t want to hear about Jon Snow, either. The emergency board meeting is way more devastating.
Oh my goodness, yes. Yes. Because there was all kinds of really good stuff leading up to that for two whole seasons. Good stuff. Not some bell-ringing bitch yelling “SHAME” while some crop-haired woman stumbles through miles and miles of sidewalk or whatever you called it back in the day. AND why were those people throwing away their vegetables?
Maybe they were rotten and so they weren’t of any use to the peasants?
Well, ok, but perhaps it could have gone to the animals, or they could have put it back into the soil so you’d have a healthier crop.
So that show is strictly built on shock?
There’s a lot of that. There are intricate plots, too, but I don’t know. It seems like there’s always some gratuitous bullshit.
Gratuitous and really, you need to know… OK, you know I like Family Guy. I know you’re not thrilled that your mother likes to watch Family Guy. I laugh at some of the jokes I probably shouldn’t be laughing at, but when that fucking chicken comes on and they spend the whole show fighting that chicken, then I have to turn the channel.
There’s a chicken?
Oh, you’ve never seen that?
Ok, every once in a while this big chicken, like full-sized chicken, shows up and the chicken and Peter fight for the whole show. And it’s like “Oh! come on!” Every so often this chicken shows up and as soon as I see the chicken, I’m like, “I’m not watching this show.”
So the chicken is the SHAME walk.
Yes! Yes! The SHAME walk is the equivalent to the chicken fight in Family Guy. Yes! Absolutely right! That’s what it is.