The Rundown: What Are We Going To Talk About After ‘Game Of Thrones’ Ends?

Editor-at-Large
04.12.19

HBO

The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items will vary, as will the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE — The upcoming Thrones vacuum

The next six weeks are going to be wild. That’s all that’s left for Game of Thrones. Six weeks, six episodes, six more rounds of recaps and breakdown and theories, and then, poof, it’s gone. One of the biggest shows in television history, in both scale and cultural impact, will cease to exist. We’re all justifiably wrapped up in the excitement of the premiere this weekend, and I do apologize for jumping straight to the end before the beginning happens, but that’s what’s floating out there, quietly undiscussed. The last of the big monoculture shows, the last of the shows that can reliably light up a Twitter feed and penetrate non-TV coverage on a regular basis, will cease to exist. And what, exactly, is that going to look like? What are… what are we going to do?

We’ve had a sneak peak of this vacuum in the long break between the end of season seven and today. Things bubble up here and there, your Killing Eve-s and Stranger Things-es, but nothing has really stuck like Thrones. Nothing has reached out into the discourse in the same way, where you can use it as a metaphor or reference while discussing something unrelated and people will still get it. The president used its imagery to announce a major policy push and, regardless of how you feel about the president or policy in question (no thanks, personally), that’s a big deal. Can you imagine, like, Ozark pulling that off? I can’t. And a lot of people watch Ozark! Allegedly!

That’s part of the problem, really. Netflix and its streaming brethren, with their binge-y strategy and individualized algorithms, have made watching television a more isolating experience. Everyone can now watch shows tailored specifically to their interests at exactly the pace they like. On paper, that’s cool. “Give me what I want right now in a big freaking bucket and then leave me alone” is an enticing option. But it takes some of the community aspects out of television, the water cooler chat. That stinks a little. It makes me sad. Because that was always the fun part of television for me.

Maybe I’m revealing myself to be a dinosaur here. I don’t know. But I do miss that part of the viewing experience, the week between episodes of shows everyone watched. (“Everyone” here meaning everyone in your particular online silo, which is another issue completely.) Mad Men never even sniffed the ratings or scale of Game of Thrones but was still a blast. The writing, the chatter, the memes, heck, even the theories, which got a little nuts at the time but now give me pangs of nostalgia. The week between those episodes was almost as fun as watching the show itself because you could count on the smartest and funniest people you knew adding to the experience. And while that’s not completely gone now, it is much more splintered. We can’t all talk about episodes of shows like we used to because we’re often all watching different things at different speeds. With Game of Thrones gone and no new episodes on the horizon, that cultural vacuum is going to be even more noticeable.

(It’s not just Game of Thrones that’s ending and creating this vacuum, either. In less than two weeks, right in the middle of the final season, Avengers: Endgame premieres and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it will come to an end, too. Our biggest television and movie franchises of the last decade or so are both ending within about a month of each other. That’s going to be… weird. And I say that as someone who has not in the past been a diehard fan of comics or fantasy. I’m more of a John Wick/Better Call Saul person. But these have both been so huge, so galactically omnipresent, that even casual fans like me have been sucked into their gravitational field. And by June, they just won’t exist anymore. Like I said, weird.)

Please don’t mistake me, these last six weeks are going to be a lot. They’re going to be too much, I imagine. You’re probably, at some point (maybe even today!), going to get annoyed by it all. That’s understandable. The amount of coverage it’s going to get could get overwhelming. You might wake up one day, four weeks from now, and want to shout “I wish everyone would just shut up about Game of Thrones!” But if you find yourself in that position, try to take a breath and consider this: Every tweet, every article, every hypothesis about Game of Thrones is one that isn’t about politics. That has to count for something.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — This is now the best tweet

Twitter

Here is a tweet by Jackée Harry, star of 227 and Sister, Sister and just a general national treasure. It is, without question, the greatest tweet I have ever seen, just nudging out the prior champion “Antonin Scalia retire bitch” by fellow national treasure Danny DeVito. The two of them should make a movie together. Or do a podcast. Or just hang out a bunch. I’ll take whatever I can get here.

In fact, the tweet is so great that I screencapped it instead of embedding it just in case Twitter vanishes tomorrow and we need visual evidence of its existence. (I will link to it, though.) It’s perfect from beginning to end, not a single word wasted or lacking. Read it out loud a few times. If you’re still on the fence, allow me to break this down piece by piece.

Eartha Kitt slapped the f%#! outta me!

Even if the tweet was just this sentence, even if this was her entire story in reply to the prompt in the tweet below it, it might be the best tweet I’ve ever seen. I would read anything, of any length, that started with “Eartha Kitt slapped the f%#! outta me!” Tweets, books, 1200-word introductions to recipes on the New York Times website, anything. You can go ahead and pop it into famous literary works for all I care. Would Moby Dick be a better book if it started with this sentence instead of “Call me Ishmael”? Maybe. Probably not. But would it be a more interesting book? I don’t think anyone can argue it wouldn’t.

It’s even better that she self-censored the cuss word, for reasons I can’t explain but believe with every fiber of my human form. We are off to a tremendous start.

She thought I was sleeping with her boyfriend..

Please note the dots after the word boyfriend. The dots are important. They imply something else is coming. And it is. Right now.

which I was

Perfect. God bless every one of us, the people who live in a time when this tweet first came into existence. We’ve been through a lot. We deserve this.

but I didn’t know he was taken.

A few notes in closing:

  • Who is this man, this scallywag, this absolute cad, who was out here stepping out on Eartha Kitt with Jackée, and why hasn’t he written a book?
  • I choose to believe this happened at some sort of fancy gala, just for the visual, just to picture the faces of the onlookers who watched Eartha Kitt “slap the f%#!” out of Jackée.
  • How many people do you think Eartha Kitt slapped in her lifetime? I’m setting the over/under at 100.

The internet is crazy, man. One day you’re posting some tweet asking people for silly stories about meeting famous people and the next you’re the conduit for the greatest piece of literature the English language has ever seen.

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