In recent weeks, 'Game of Thrones' has been under the media microscope for sexual assault, high levels of violence and the burning alive of a child, The Atlantic reported.
But the show isn't alone in its tone. Other shows — like "Breaking Bad," "Dexter" and "The Americans" — have also touched on mature and violent themes in recent years. Which leads to the question — has TV become a little too dark?
Alicia Cohn of Christianity Today asked that question in her latest piece. She specifically looked at “Game of Thrones,” which touches on mature themes, including death and betrayal. But it’s not just evil and immoral things like sex and violence; it’s more than that.
“Bad things include heartless, gruesome storylines: an adopted son betraying the family that raised him, a brother selling his sister to a warlord in hope of gaining an army, an honorable man beheaded at the order of a spoiled child, and guests slaughtered at a wedding reception,” Cohn wrote.
And as dark as things get on the show, there’s little positivity to follow, Cohn wrote.
“But I share a conviction with other Christians that where there is darkness, there must also be a source of redeeming light,” Cohn wrote. “That light doesn't seem to exist in the world of ‘Game of Thrones.’ ”
That seems to be a trend. Good isn’t beating the bad or finishing first. The Federalist’s David Harsanyi wrote on May 23 that reality shows tend to reward the less virtuous competitors, highlighting that those who lie, cheat and steal are often the ones to take home the top prize. Harsanyi specifically referenced “Survivor,” and how its recent champion was far from truthful and honest.
“There is no set of guidelines for the jury to check off when voting for the champion,” Harsanyi wrote. “Nothing stops them from picking the person who tried the hardest or was the kindest or helped out the most at the grueling camp. Nothing tells them what ‘playing the game’ really signifies. Yet, for all seasons I’ve watched, the jury selects the most manipulative contestant rather than the more honorable or the most civil or the hardest working.”
Would this make entertaining TV, though, if the good guys got their chance?
“There is no doubt that duplicity and deception make for entertaining television,” Harsanyi wrote. “... But somehow watching the greedy shallowness of real people is a lot more pathetic and depressing.”
But TV has been pinpointed as becoming more conservative, too. Chandra Johnson of Deseret News National wrote on May 12 about how television is taking a lot of cues from conservatives, especially through shows like “The Americans.”
Johnson’s articled stemmed from a piece by Will Rahn of The Daily Caller, which asked whether TV has started to lean more right than left. TV isn’t becoming completely conservative, Will Rahn wrote for The Daily Caller, but it is drawing off of conservative ideals.
“Now, are any of these shows intentionally conservative? With the possible exception of Judge’s 'Silicon Valley' and whatever Whit Stillman is cooking up, I’d say no,” Rahn wrote. “But conservatives would do well to see how some of their ideas still have traction in the culture at large, if only because it’s making for some fine TV.”