The end of Game of Thrones could spell the end of monoculture in North American media order.
The hit HBO series about dragons, kings, ice zombies and incestral relationships recently capped off its eighth and final season with 17.8 million people watching the series finale on May 20th.
While appreciation for the final two seasons has been a mixed-bag due to the show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss running out of source material from author George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire — it can be said that Game of Thrones was perhaps the largest success TV success story of the 21st Century, if not the history of TV.
It also could be one of the last, with a changing media landscape continue to alter how, particularly North Americans, consume media.
Traditionally, TV enthusiasts were typically united in their interests due the gatekeeping apparatus of large broadcasters, which produced shows that were sent to every home in America.
This is why early TV generations will often speak nostalgically of the shows of their youth like the Brady Bunch, Mash, Mork and Mindy, Happy Days, I love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver, Star Trek and several other big name shows were made available to people in the pre-cable days where every household had the same one to five channels.
With the advent of YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go and other streaming services, 21st century consumers of TV media are presented with literally hundreds of options of programming, meaning that creating a unifying force like Game of Thrones grows further and further beyond grasp for producers.
What does this mean? Does this mean the end of the water cooler talk that defined the Game of Thrones consumption experience dies along with fans expectations for the finale?
It could indeed, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.
What the monoculture of early television, although entertaining, ultimately led to was defined media experience that left little in the way for diversity and individualism. What the streaming experience has brought is a multi-faceted, diverse force that allows producers to experiment with traditional narratives — opening the door for a diverse group of story-tellers that more adequately represents the makeup of a 21st century society.
While it made have been convenient for you, your neighbors and everyone else on the block to spend every Sunday doing the exact same thing, the new way opens the door for consumers to be just as individualistic in their interests as they would in their personal pursuits.
Game of Thrones will be missed by many, but the opportunity to diversify and individualize our media experience in post monoculture media landscape opens the door for voices in our society that have previously gone unheard.