Trump a Lannister? Pundits Search for Political Intrigue in ‘Game of Thrones’

There is a lot of real world meaning that can be drawn from the show.

July 15, 2017 5:00 am
Game of Thrones
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) on 'Game of Thrones' (HBO)

Season 7 of the hit show Game of Thrones airs Sunday night, and there have been plenty of think-pieces about how its themes resonate in today’s political landscape.

George R.R. Martin, the author of the books that the show is based off of, adapted the dynastic struggles from England’s 15th-century Wars of the Roses. Westeros itself is based on the geography and history of the British Isles. But many people see the themes reflected in modern society. Pride and complacency are always punished, as are naïveté and blind trust. It is, as The Washington Post put it, “a world of angst and dread.”

Eric Deggans, NPR’s TV critic, wrote that Game of Thrones takes place in a world that punishes heroism and rewards the wealthy. He said that the show feels like a sadly appropriate mirror of our own world.

“But the flawed characters who begin this new season fighting to save themselves and their families are mostly the kind of heroes we hope to be, facing a historic moment with courage and resolve,” Deggans wrote.

Martin himself once likened President Donald Trump to the sadistic royal Joffrey Baratheon in an interview with Esquire citing his lack of experience and poor temperament upon ascending into power. But Martin himself wrote the character long before Trump was even a reality TV star, much less a political phenomenon.

That doesn’t stop people from reading into the novels, and the show they inspired.

During the election season last year,  The New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum, said the show felt relevant because it is dominated by debates about “purity versus pragmatism; the struggles of female candidates in a male-run world; family dynasties with ugly histories; and assorted deals with various devils.”

Many pundits compare Hillary Clinton to the exiled Daenerys Targaryen, who literally walks through flames and tries to make her kingdom less violent through deals. But others with different political views might see her as Cersei Lannister, who is “ethically rotten” and a “born elitist” as Nussbaum put it.

SLAY @hillaryclinton #debates2016??

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Trump can also be seen reflected in the show. He is similar in some ways to the Lannisters—very wealthy and driven by the goal of boosting his family name. On the other hand, there is an argument to see a Targaryen taste for reigning fire on his nation’s enemies.

Season 7 of the show will continue offering parables. There is a refugee crisis, a growing climate menace that threatens to kill everyone, and the continuation of leaders struggling for power.

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