Shocked audiences come back to the same violent TV shows week after week, instead of being driven away. One of the best examples in this category is Game of Thrones, which has displayed some of the most gruesome scenes on the small screen, and still managed to be one of the most popular TV shows in recent history.
Fathers burning their daughters alive, incest and rape scenes – such are the hooks that have kept large audiences coming back ever since its 2011 HBO premiere. Critics have often accused Game of Thrones producers of taking it too far, but the hordes of fans seem to disagree. Or are they?
After the most recent rape scene, described as “disgusting and unacceptable,” many displeased fans threatened to stop watching the show. But many others are so hooked they would tune in next week and the next week after that.
University of Wollongong media studies professor Dr. Sue Turnbull has attempted to give a satisfying reason as to why so many fans come back to shows like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and True Detective in spite of the aversion and appalling they cause with almost each and every episode.
Dr. Turnbull believes that most fans are attracted to the strong plotlines; moral struggles and impressive characters seem to outrank the stomach-churning violence these shows exhibit. Game of Thrones, for example, has many different storylines which are alternated in a very swift directing fashion.
She explains the overall pleasure in viewing refers to the violent content in a very small aspect, whereas other features, such as intricate plots and developing characters are the main drive in the desire of watching a certain show.
The great majority of fans might not even like the violent scenes, but there is plenty of other good stuff going on that creates a balance. That’s what happened with Breaking Bad as well, where fans came every week to find some more about the fate of Walter White, a fascinating protagonist.
In spite of the often violent content displayed on the show, Breaking Bad also presented a very engaging plot, as viewers witnessed the character getting deeper and deeper in questionable and immoral activities.
There is, however, a personal limit for each viewer when it comes to how much they can tolerate seeing on a show. Some fans thought the recent burning alive scene in Game of Thrones was enough of a turn-off, while others saw it as an integrated part in the show’s shocking style.
Dr. Turnbull explains that each individual has its own range of things they can watch without becoming too uncomfortable – when things go south it’s time to turn off the TV.
With so many violent shows available, we learned to perceive graphic violence in fictional shows differently from real violence. But being constantly exposed to virtual threats, our brains tend to start seeing the world in a much darker light than it actually is.
Image Source: Screen Rant