David Benioff & Dan Weiss wanted to make ‘Game of Thrones’ appealing to bros & moms

Game Of Thrones San Francisco Premiere

When you think about Game of Thrones now, what happens? It depends on what part I’m thinking of. Like, sometimes it will just strike me out of nowhere that Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion ended up being the f–king worst. And then I’ll get mad, all over again, about what they did to Daenerys. Who is responsible for all of this residual angst? Not the actors – they did their thing and it’s not their job to write the scripts as well. So, just put all of your anger at the feet of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who completely boned the story in the final seasons. Benioff and Weiss basically went into hiding after that terrible final season, but they appeared at the Austin Film Festival this weekend and they revealed all. One reporter live-tweeted it – you can see the full thread here:

Here are some of the biggest problematic reveals:

Imagine the doors that open for you when you’re a mediocre white man. Imagine a writer handing you his life’s work and you know that you are so deeply unqualified to take charge of it, but hey, you’re white and a man, so you’ll figure it out.

Imagine HBO paying millions of dollars per episode so that these two a–holes could “go to film school” in real time.

Imagine being so privileged and out-of-touch that you fail to do basic research on the characters you’re writing AND you insist on writing as many of the scripts as possible.

OH MY GOD. “Yeah we didn’t care about the built-in fans of the books whatsoever, we just wanted to make a show that bros and soccer moms would like.”

“We just wanted to be ensconced in our bubble of ignorant privilege, honestly.”

So… now we know. They really didn’t care and we wasted a decade watching these two dudes completely screw up the f–king story.

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51 Responses to “David Benioff & Dan Weiss wanted to make ‘Game of Thrones’ appealing to bros & moms”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    This honestly explains a lot. They didn’t care about the fantasy elements, they didn’t try to really “get” the books, the series was “film school” to them etc. Even IF we give them a big pass because the show outpaced the books, so there was no source material – they still could have done better. And they should have done better. That was an amazing series with some of the best episodes in television, ever, in my opinion, and they screwed it up to the point where many of us just have bad tastes in our mouths when we think of it.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      ITA – it explains why everything after they ran out of source material was sh!t. They were only in it to use the books to make a name for themselves – they are going to eff up Star Wars even worse than it has been now.

      It also confirms the rumours, esp around them not being that great to work with and just killing off characters where they didn’t like the actors. Apparently they killed off Ros because the actress didn’t want to do nude scene’s anymore.

      • broodytrudy says:

        They killed off Conleth because he got snappy with them about Varys. They wanted to kill Jaime because Nikolaj was calling and trying to talk to them about how they were butchering his character. This was after they told him they didn’t care what he thought about his character’s dialogue and to just shut up and act.

        There are a million stories like this from the set and it’s super telling what has come out.

      • TQ says:

        @Digital Unicorn – This. Agree 1000%.

      • ReginaGeorge says:


        Varys was gonna die regardless. It was foreshadowed when Melissandre told him they were both meant to die there. So I knew he wouldn’t make it to the end.

        I was just disappointed with how he died. That one hurt, especially because it came as a betrayal from his closest friend, whose butt he had saved. He deserved a better death and meatier scene.

      • Mia4s says:

        In case there was any doubt as to their original sucking? One of them wrote the Gemini Man (that Will Smith movie that just mega-bombed and critics hated). Great sign was Star Wars….yikes.

        Disney+ Star Wars shows get Jon Favreau and Tony Gilroy; movies get these two…yikes.

      • Becks1 says:

        @ReginaGeorge – I agree with that and just in general, my issue isn’t always “what” happened, its more “how” it happened. Varys dying for betraying Dany? That’s not totally out there for me. We could have seen that coming since the beginning (not necessarily for betraying Dany, but for betraying the wrong person, his instincts being wrong,etc.)

        But it was literally something where I didn’t realize WHY he had died until we were talking about it on here the next day. I completely missed that he was actively trying to kill Dany. And there was no explanation for Tyrion’s betrayal, especially considering that Tyrion then pushes Jon to do exactly that (kill Dany.) The death itself wasn’t the problem, it was the storytelling around it.

      • GreenTurtle says:

        Well, and saying they “wrote almost every episode” because they “didn’t know better” is a total crock. They gave themselves writing credits for episodes that lifted the scenes and dialogue, often WORD FOR WORD from the books for four seasons. It infuriates me to look back and see their names credited for the early episodes. Just no. Those are George R.R. Martin’s words. They could’ve *never* written that amazing early Lannister dialogue with Tyrion, Tywin, Cersei, and Jaime. You’ll notice the only really good episode of the final season – A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms – was written by Bryan Cogman. Next episode picked right back up with their usual wtf choices and character assassination. God, these assholes. I didn’t realize I was still so salty about this. Lol.

  2. Miss Grace Jones says:

    I’m sorry they even look like perverts and douchebags in the face.

  3. broodytrudy says:

    I mean, we knew all of this though? We knew that they didn’t give two shits but that they didn’t really want anyone else to touch their work. They straight through Kit under the bus at the Emmy’s because they didn’t want to talk about it.

    Imagine being so up your own ass that you’ll completely ignore the fans who created the television event of the decade to do this type of shit.

    Ridiculous and each time they open their mouths they dig their holes deeper. I’m not usually one for fan revenge, but I sincerely hope this follows them the rest of their careers. Is Amanda Peet also a huge asshole like her husband??

  4. Algernon says:

    As arrogant and terrible as they sound here, their instinct to broaden the appeal was right. They made GOT into one of the biggest shows in history. They really sound awful as people, but I don’t think they’re half as clueless as they come off. I think they just don’t really want to talk about it, so they’re playing off their answers. I do think they needed more writers, just to help balance things (maybe the female characters would have been handled better), and to prevent their own burnout. But in general, I have to say, even with all these boneheaded things they’re saying, they still made a great show that tens of millions of people loved for a decade. As for how things turned out for the characters, take that up with GRRM, it’s his ending. He came up with crazy dragon lady and king tree boy.

    • Oatmeal says:



      GRRM and his writing made GOT one of the biggest shows in history. Literally all one had to do was transpose the dialogue and settings for film and just step out of the way

      Once the OG source material ran out those clowns were exposed for the hacks that they are

      • Algernon says:

        It definitely got worse when they ran out source material, not defending that at all. But their idea to broaden the appeal paid off, and that ending still belongs to GRRM. They worked off his outline. King tree boy will still happen in the books, if GRRM ever finishes them.

      • Becks1 says:

        I don’t necessarily mind their decision to broaden the appeal and to focus more on the power struggle, less on the fantasy aspects. I can see why they wanted to do that and I think it worked (certainly the show ended up with huge appeal for many.)

        But, I think its obvious they didn’t “appreciate” the fantasy aspects. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it feels like since they didn’t want to focus on the fantasy, they just sort of ignored it in many ways (especially in the last few seasons – which actually made it worse, because there was so much fantasy stuff that just kind of got left hanging.)

      • ReginaGeorge says:


        “(especially in the last few seasons – which actually made it worse, because there was so much fantasy stuff that just kind of got left hanging.)”

        Yep. Like the prophecy stuff. AA/PtWP. I realized that in the end it was Jon for several reasons, but it was completely brushed aside and downplayed at the end. I realized they couldn’t ceremoniously celebrate who he was after killing Dany and having the Grey Worm conflict, but it would have been nice for *someone* to have acknowledge it. And they never really did include the Valonqar prophecy, did they?

      • Algernon says:

        @ Regina

        Technically Cersei died with her younger brother’s arms around her. Close enough I guess?! That was stupid. Tyrion should have killed Cersei, and then killed Daenerys. There is a great video essay on Youtube explaining how it makes more sense for Tyrion to be the one to kill Dany. I don’t think GRRM will ever finish the books because I think he realizes he wrote himself into a stupid corner.

    • ReginaGeorge says:

      Yep. The decision at the end for Bran to be king and Dany to turn heel were all GRRM, confirmed.

      They definitely should have hired actual writers. The dialogue suffered after they ran out of the source. Tyrion especially. The character went from being a super-articulate, witty, intelligent smart-ass to just an average smart-ass. And the opinion that EVERY fan can agree on was that it was rushed. They definitely needed a few more episodes to make it feel complete. And I don’t mean more CGI which definitely would have taken more money and time. They needed more dialogue.

      It would have been nice to get more of Jon having to deal with revelations of R+L=J and it’s implications. I expected an inner conflict the way Theon was conflicted over being both Greyjoy and Stark. As well as Dany being his aunt and being in love/lusting after her, and more of Dany unraveling. Instead, everything was assumed and eluded to.

      • Algernon says:

        They left so little time for so many huge moments! It was so frustrating. I expected Jon’s parentage to be a *much* bigger deal but it was barely blip. If GRRM ever finishes the books, I expect those things to have a lot more nuance, even if it is the same stupid ending, overall.

      • ReginaGeorge says:

        I do expect the same results in the books, but they will be explained way more thoroughly and make better sense. He will piece together all of the clues instead of assuming his entire audience picked up every single detail. Plus we’ll get the character’s POV’s which never came across on the show.

      • chlo says:

        They needed a few more seasons. Ugh.

    • A says:

      How exactly did they broaden the appeal though? They kept to the plot of the books for the most part in the early seasons, so it’s not like they added anything new or removed anything significant. The changes they made stuck to the types of changes that need to be made whenever you’re adapting a series of books for the screen, ie, merging certain characters together, eliminating some plot lines, etc. The other changes they made generally involved adding more violence, more misogyny, more nudity, etc., which I’d argue doesn’t broaden the appeal as much as tailor the material for a specific subset of the audience in particular who might not be as interested in reading literature as they are in seeing a 24 yr old’s tits on screen.

      • Algernon says:

        They definitely watered down the fantasy elements, especially in the first couple seasons. It’s there, but early on, the big fantasy pieces were treated as mysteries. The only went all-in on White Walkers, for instance, in season five, and White Walkers aren’t even a big deal in the books. They chose to make this element a bigger deal on the show because people associate with zombies, something we are ready and able to understand. There is a lot of arcane magic stuff in the books they cut entirely, like all of the Stark children being able to warg into their wolves. I also assume that, should he actually write it, GRRM will have a lot more info on the three eyed raven and everything he can do. They barely got into green seeing, and only used it to show flashbacks, but Jojen Reed in the books throws out several prophecies for the Starks. As assy as B&W sound, I think they did understand a lot of the fantasy doesn’t actually amount to anything in the end, so they cut that stuff down, or out entirely. There is a lot of interesting magical detail in the books, but given how everything turns out, it’s like none of it really matters.

      • A says:

        I disagree. I don’t think that D&D left those elements out because they wanted to make the show appeal to a broader audience. For one thing, the show is still unmistakably a fantasy. Being coy about the magical elements doesn’t change that. For another, all of those details are absolutely essential to world-building within the books themselves. The only reason they cut those things out of the series is because they didn’t have the skills necessary to translate those elements to the medium of TV in a meaningful way. There are absolutely ways to incorporate world building of that sort on the screen (Mad Max: Fury Road is a fantastic example of this), but D&D simply didn’t have the ability to do that. If they had actually concerned themselves with the broader themes of the book vs. just wanting actors to LARP the scenes in the book, they would have done a better job of it. But as they stated, that wasn’t their concern. Let’s not confuse the absolute ambivalence that D&D have for fantasy as a genre with them having made interesting choices because “none of the magical detail actually matters.” If it didn’t, then the whole series would basically be some type of offshoot of historical fiction. Given that they don’t really seem to be fans of fantasy to begin with, it makes total sense that they would want to cut out the parts that actually add colour to the story and filled it instead with rape, more rape, violence, death, battle scene, rape, nudity, etc. These were clearly the elements of GoT that most appealed to THEM in particular. Extrapolating that to the audience at large is a bit dumb.

        Finally, they’re doing an enormous disservice to their audience with the assumption that GoT needs to be “marketed” to moms and football fans etc. It goes back to that idiotic presumption in society that fantasy geeks are somehow a class apart from everyone else. The overwhelming popularity of stuff like Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, the Marvel comics, etc, would prove otherwise. I’m assuming that there are at least some moms and football fans who contributed to the billions of dollars those properties are worth. D&D did a bad job because they didn’t respect the source material and didn’t seem to understand that they’re making a TV show for people who have tastes beyond just themselves.

  5. Kateeeee says:

    For two completely unqualified and uninformed people, they did an admirable job with the show… to a point. But man, what a wasted effort. I’m more disappointed than ever for what it might have been if HBO hadn’t decided to bro out.

  6. Sayrah says:

    I seriously hate the last 2 seasons… overall. There were some good moments, but I still stan for Dani because I honestly can’t accept what happened to her character… and Jamie? Wtf. Ugh

    • Debby says:

      Completely agree. Up until season 6 the show was amazing. Of course it had some lesser parts but it was still some damn good television. The ending of season 6 was amazing. Then the cracks started to show in season 7. Still not as nonsensical as season 8 but the smartness and strong character arcs had disappeared and things just sort of happened. And then at last season 8 happened. I had hoped it would pull 7 together but it was so completely obvious the show runners were over it. It was so disrespectful to the actors to destroy their carefully built up characters but also to the fans that they dared serve up such drab.

  7. Kiki says:

    As an avid fan of the books and tv series of Game of Thrones, my disappointment towards these two white privileged men is grating and I have had enough of it. It makes me so mad that selfish, arrogant and inconsiderate people like these WHITE MAYONAISE MEN, would take a fantasy book and TV series and defecate it. These WHITE BREAD MEN would do this in an ignorant manner by not listening to their fans and how angry we are, which they don’t care about our feelings.

    I would love to tell them where they can put their EMMYS.

    • GreenTurtle says:

      😂😂😂 I’ve been trying not to think of GoT since it ended, because I was so enraged by what these two stodgy, unimaginative man babies did to this beloved material. I found your comment very cathartic.

      Let’s say this for the cheap seats. These two minimized the fantasy elements because they knew they lacked the creativity to resolve them without the source material. That’s why the story turned into the Winchester mystery house of plot holes, and dead end story leads that went nowhere. There was no strategic vision for the show other than “make it rapier with bitching battle scenes.” At least they had the wherewithal to give Sapochnik free reign to dazzle us with his visuals.

  8. Ann says:

    I can’t even rewatch the series because there are little things all over the place that seemed very important but amounted to nothing. It’s beyond annoying. The detail about appealing to moms and football fans… well, boys, give that BS a go with Star Wars. I dare ya. I would love to see the nerd revenge they deserve but managed to skirt for S8. Comic Con 2020 could be a reckoning. Fingers crossed!

  9. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    As a devoted stan, even today, it’s so very easy to read the above and thoroughly understand why final seasons lacked at every turn on every level. If I were a betting gal, I’d bet George wishes he wrote faster lol. He’s the genius here. Those two need to bend the knee.

    I’ve already rewatched, and I still love it regardless. Danny broke the wheel. Not a Stark Jon is with his wolf in the real North. The Stark sisters are doing what they were trained to do. Bran is the Internet and will have a really long life, and he has a team to cover all the diversified shit they’ll come across. It’s a neat, quickly-wrapped little package. BUT. Heh heh. I’ll always be ready for more. What’s West of Westeros? Does Sansa have a life or does she simply become Queen Elizabeth I? What does King’s Landing look like now? Is it still King’s Landing? And what happens when you walk in a brothel with a jackass and a honeycomb? I’ll always be down for round two.

    • ReginaGeorge says:

      I was definitely ok with the end result. It was very Greek tragedy and I had prepared myself for that. The ending broke my heart at certain points, (I did wish for Jon and Dany to be Westeros’s greatest power couple at least for a bit) , but I understood why the pieces fell where they did. I’ve rewatched it a few times already. Most recently a few weeks ago when I was really missing the show.

  10. Pandabird says:

    Dany trusted Tyrion. He gave her a lot of bad advices and in the end, it was he who had her killed. F**k Tyrion. Also, why the F is Jon Snow still alive anyways; he’s just going to go mope beyond the wall. GTFO. Drogon should’ve eaten or burned him after he killed Dany. Ugh…..Yep, I’m still mad AF about season 8, when I think about it.

  11. Mia4s says:

    Wow, they are repulsive. And they’re writing Star Wars from scratch? Oh lord that’s going to suck sooooo much.

  12. bonobochick says:

    This explained so much when I saw the thread yesterday. I bounced between shaking my head and saying WTF aloud while reading it. The epitome of white male privilege and failing up.

  13. Originaltessa says:

    I’m still not over the last two seasons of GOT, and how royally they effed it up. I may never get over it. What a horrible shame to end perhaps the greatest show of all time so pitifully.

    • smcollins says:

      And it showed they learned nothing in the years leading up to the final seasons that went beyond the books. They coasted on the source material and when the time came to actually dig in and continue the story without any source material to fall back on they showed just how ill-equipped they really were. Which begs the question, why were *they* handed the keys to the kingdom? I’m sure no one expected it to become the bohemeth that it did, but still…

  14. prettypersuasion says:

    Interesting. I never got into GOT because of the fantasy elements they kept. I noped right out of there when I realized dragons were involved. I just can’t do sci-fi or fantasy, my brain won’t allow it (maybe because I was raised in and escaped religious fundamentalism?). And gory violence is just never entertaining to me. It sounds like these guys pulled a LOST anyway.

    • khaveman says:

      Those who like fantasy “get” the material and would have appreciated it being represented on screen well. It wasn’t.

  15. Snazzy says:

    As a writer and woman of colour this makes me so angry. I will never get the opportunity (to fail upwards or even to fail and recover) the way these two mediocre white men have.

    • Jess says:

      Snazzy, it is so completely wrong and unjust and I’m so sorry. It is so gross what these guys have handed to them while there are so many talented women and people of color who wouldn’t even be given the time of day for something like this. And the more these two dudes talk the more they proof the privilege that comes with being a white man in our society. I really wish they would just go away.

  16. A says:

    Reading this thread gave me so much anxiety. As a perfectionist with ADHD, which is the worst combo imo, the idea of being so unprepared and unequipped for something like this is just. What. If you’re a fan of the books, why in the f-ck would you do this to the material you supposedly love so much?

  17. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    The ending was so effing bad that I cannot even re-watch the earlier episodes — knowing the shitty ending ruins everything that came before it. Comparing that turd of an ending to the last episode of “Veep,” which was sheer genius, you can see how competent writers/directors make all the difference. I refuse to watch anything D&D touch going forward.

  18. Your Cousin Vinny says:

    Huh. I guess I underestimated how many “moms” out there really want to see scene after scene filled with naked women for no good reason.

    I love love love the books and the story and thoroughly enjoyed the first five or six seasons of the show but I always complained that the gratuitous female nudity and sexism made me feel like the creators were really only trying to appeal to heterosexual men. Turns out I was wrong! I guess I am the outlier mom in that respect.

    • Jane'sWastedTalent says:

      Lol- great response! And actually I’ve heard from a number of men that this programming doesn’t appeal to them either and they think it’s aimed at teenage boys.

  19. Chrissy says:

    imma just say it. Dicks. These two are just dicks.

    • Pineapple says:

      Yep, Chrissy … I’m gonna second your opinion. I was just thinking the other day how disappointed I still am about this ending for those incredible books. Blerg. White, male privilege strikes again.

  20. The Recluse says:

    I am still super annoyed at what they did to Daenarys. She was on the ‘Hero’s Journey’, as were several others, but was then denied her real destiny so that men would continue to run things.

    • Jane'sWastedTalent says:

      Yes! Even more so in the first three books (I quit after book four since it certainly seems to have been ghostwritten). In the books, Azor Ahai (whose story feels reminiscent of Gilgamesh) had to quench his freshly forged sword of fire into the heart of his true love, his wife (disgusting right? This is both horrifying and enragingly misogynistic but bear with me). Well that’s how Dany got her dragons- her swords of fire- by performing blood magic on her true love’s funeral pyre. And she was so clearly the most heroic- in fact, I would say on her way to true greatness- that I’m glad I quit with book four and stopped watching after episode three, since from all I’ve heard, both media butcher her character (and Tyrion’s, and many others).

  21. khaveman says:

    For the juggernaut that the show was for HBO, these two clown, frat-sounding airheads sold it out. Didn’t want the awesome nerd fans who love mystical elements of the books? Yeah I knew that when they blew off the direwolves. Probably one of the most interesting aspects of the Starks and their tie to nature, etc. I have no respect for these two, and I hope their reputations suffer for it. So disrespectful, the way they are talking about what for many was a really interesting, enjoyable fantasy show. D&D are hack douchebags.

    • Jane'sWastedTalent says:

      They are enormous mimbos and I can’t believe they were ever trusted with any HBO programming.