The Game of Thrones series finale airs on May 19, which means that the next week and a half will be a living hell for anyone who just never got around to watching this beloved, nudity-and-dragon-based cable drama. Everywhere you go, from house parties to the office kitchen, you will encounter some of the estimated 30 million people who regularly watch the show. And if you openly admit that you don't know the difference between the one woman with blonde hair and the other woman with blonde hair, or that you always thought it was about a metaphorical throne, you will be annihilated. An enraged army of people you used to call "friends" will stare at you, unable to believe that you spent the past eight years rewatching old episodes of Roswell instead of learning what "warging" is. They will tell you you're missing out on the best show on television, and that you should just start watching it now.
But let's be honest: if you were ever going to watch it, you would have watched it. I know of what I speak: I blew off GoT for its entire eight season run. And now that the clock is running out for the show, I see that there is nothing to do except lie about having seen Game of Thrones. Sure, you're free to defend your anti-GoT-watching stance, if that feels important to you; but if you're just trying to make it through another damn day without having anyone flip out on you about a Direwolf, the next few days will be an ideal time to hone your poker face, practice pronouncing "Daenerys," and lie through your beautiful teeth.
But don't worry, you can do it! I know because I am an experienced TV liar. I've been lying about watching popular TV since 2005, when America developed Grey's Anatomy fever, an affliction I simply could not catch. But every day at my first post-college job, I found myself drawn into a new conversation about these TV doctors and their poor life choices.
And so, I developed my patented TV Lying Technique: pick one recurring theme on the show ("I just don't know about the decisions Meredith is making!"), and spend the rest of the conversation asking the other party what they think is going to happen next.
It's a technique that's carried me through numerous shows and eras, from holiday parties where people couldn't stop talking about Scandal ("OMG Fitz!"), to two separate bachelorette weekends during the peak of Keeping Up With The Kardashians mania ("You never know what Khloe is going to do next!").
However, those shows were easier to lie about, because they had little mythology to master, and involved few, if any, three-eyed ravens. But I think that any TV show can be convincingly lied about, if you just believe in yourself. Which is why, in a week's time, I plan to become good enough at lying about Game of Thrones to hold down my end of an awkward conversation about the show, without ever watching an episode. Here's how you can do it, too.
Step 1: Figure Out What You Already Know
The great thing about lying about Game of Thrones is, just by virtue of being alive, you have already picked up some plot points. Whether you learned it from a coworker's excited talk about the Red Wedding, seeing some memes you didn't understand, or witnessing a friend's terrible Night King Halloween costume, you know something.
So your first step to lying about GoT will be to do a thorough inventory of all the information about the show already partially lodged in your brain.
In my own inventory process, I realized that I knew:
- The Red Wedding was a wedding where a bunch of important characters died.
- The Night King is the head zombie monster guy, in charge of all the other zombie monster people.
- I once saw part of an episode where one of the blonde characters gets marched through the center of town, nude, while everyone was yelling at her (I was at a bar and the sound was turned off, but I feel like I got the gist of it)
- One character has a murder-list of all the people she wants to murder!
- Dragons? Dragons!
See? You're basically already an expert, and all because you never got around to muting "Game of Thrones" on Twitter in 2012!
Now, use everything you already know as a starting point to begin your next step.
Step 2: Talk to a Fan
You might think the internet is the right place to begin your GoT research, as there are literally 97 different recaps available of every single episode, as well as endless Reddit threads and fan theory videos.
But the sheer volume of information out there is what make it dangerous to a TV liar — left to sort out the key info from the less-relevant stuff on your own, you might end up concentrating on the wrong things! Like, what if you just start reading random recaps, and you're like, "Wow, I guess everyone really cares about this whole 'Sand Snakes' plot" and then you mention it at a party, and then guess what? You have ruined that party with your obvious lies, because few-to-no real GoT fans care about the Sand Snakes.
How do I know all that? Because I enlisted the help of a sympathetic friend, and so should you. I was lucky enough to get the guidance of Bustle's resident Game of Thrones expert, associate lifestyle editor Tanya Ghahremani. Tanya walked me through some key points — like that Cersei is a selfish villain who is also infamous for having slept with her brother, that everyone loves assassin/wee lil' badass Arya Stark and will be sad if she dies, and that people think Daenerys is turning into the "mad queen" (and also that she slept with her nephew, Jon Snow — everyone is always having sex with their relatives on this show, which is not exactly a key plot point, but still worth knowing).
You'll want to ask your own GoT guide not only about the main plot points, but about the emotional issues that fans are truly hung up on, which will help you potentially fill gaps in the conversation (Tanya suggested the ongoing fate of the Direwolves).
Step 3: Research
Now that you have some basics, get down to research. Among your best research tools will be season overviews, rather than individual recaps; honestly, if you try to read about every single episode, it's gonna take so much time, you might as well watch the damn show. Instead, read overviews that will give you a larger sense of what's afoot, and follow your own impulses about which characters to focus in on.
So with Tanya's words as my guide, I got to work! I began reading overviews, and found that I personally enjoyed reading about Important Character Jon Snow (Dead and then not dead! Slept with his aunt Daenerys without knowing it, which I'm sure is less of a big deal than coming back from the dead, but still, seems like A LOT!). When picking a character to focus on, one easy tactic is to let your own horniness be your guide: I thought Kit Harington looked good in those giant fur coats made from IKEA rugs, and then down the rabbit hole I went!
Reading the overviews, I learned not only about key battles and plot developments, but that swords have names, "Ned Stark" is the same person as "Eddard Stark," and that it's Khal Drago, not Karl Drago.
Once you feel like you have a vague handle on who is who/who has murdered who/who has slept with who, read the two most recent recaps. If you understood 50-60 percent of what they say, you're probably good to go.
As your final research step, Google "how will Game of Thrones end" and read the first reputable-seeming article you find. Most of what people want to discuss now is potential endings, so once you have one of those in your back pocket ("Jon Snow will end up on the Throne," for instance), you're ready to party.
Step 4: Experience Unexpected Regret
The natural next step is to be briefly overwhelmed with a weird feeling of regret about not having actually watched the show. Like, these stories all sound pretty fun! I thought this show was just about medieval politics. If only someone had told me it was also about magic, telepathic powers, constant full-frontal nudity, giants, dragons, zombie fights and occasional zombie dragon fights, I probably would have watched it! And everyone seems to be having a lot of fun discussing all their theories about who's gonna die when. I WANT TO HAVE FUN FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE, DAMN IT!
Let this mourning period wash over you, and then bring it to an abrupt close. You have missed your window. There was a time to learn who Brienne of Tarth is, and that time was 2014. Maybe you'll have a bunch of down time in 2023 and watch this show from the beginning. But probably not. For the rest of your life, Game of Thrones will just be a thing where you can kind of figure out what the memes mean, but not really. You made your dragon-bed, and now you must dragon-lie in it. Onward!
Step 5: Start Lying!
The scary-yet-crucial next step is to take your act to the streets. Just as book smarts don't always translate to the real world, feverish internet studying about a TV show will not always convince actual humans that you have watched a TV show, so you may want to do a test round with a buddy. I did mine with Bustle's other resident Game of Thrones expert, associate lifestyle editor Kristin Magaldi, who immediately stumped me by asking what I was most worried about in the rest of the season. I panicked and said, "The dogs!" Then I half-assed a bit about the show's ongoing issues with sexist plot points. At the end of our conversation, Kristin gave my performance a C, which I felt was honestly too nice.
I brushed up further on ending theories, and then set out on my final test: a conversation with Bustle's other other Game of Thrones expert, associate TV editor Karen Fratti, who did not know about my scam.
In this conversation, I made sure to use what learned from my previous mistakes: the key to successfully lying about Game of Thrones is putting the focus on your conversational partner and their opinions. Part of the fun of watching the show (I think?) is about getting to develop your own passionate theories and opinions: who's dead forever? Who's coming back? Who's going to have a sudden change of heart? Who's gonna get on that danged throne (which, again, is a literal throne. The real throne is not the friends we made along the way!)?
Make sure to ask about that, while occasionally throwing in your own two cents ("I think it has to be Jon Snow, right?" "I am so bored now that this show is about medieval politics instead of magic!"), and you'll be on your way.
Karen suggested that potential GoT liars develop one major opinion — i.e. that Jon Snow will get the throne, that the Night King will come back, that Daenerys will get the throne, that show will end with just everyone dying — and just toss it out, even when it contradicts someone else's opinion. This is the essence of Game of Thrones talk — the airing of competing theories. She also suggested that you decide whether or not you like Jon Snow. Then she gave me a B+ on my fake GoT talk, which was honestly more meaningful than any grades I received in college.
Step 6: Emergency Tactics
If things start to go wrong in your fake convo, you can always steer the conversation to something a bit less fact-based, like:
"Why do you think they always shoot the scenes so dark?"
"Have you read the books?"
"This show has a real problem with women sometimes!"
"Kind of rude that Ed Sheeran got a cameo on this show but not Joe Jonas, right?"
Step 7: Remember That None of This Matters
Time is an endless march forward, just like a bunch of White Walkers doing something or other. Or, like Jon Snow dying and being resurrected? Whatever. All I mean is, in six months, all these people will be on different TV shows, and you'll be lying about having watched something else. So, make sure you have fun with your Game of Thrones lies. And if you can't... maybe just stay at home for the next few days.