Game of Thrones Showrunners Toned Down Fantasy Elements to Appeal to 'Mothers' and 'NFL Players'

Game of Thrones showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff skipped the show’s final San Diego Comic-Con panel amid backlash from fans disappointed in the show’s final season. They did show up at an Austin Film Festival this weekend for a panel where they discussed HBO’s fantasy epic. Twitter user @ForArya was in attendance and shared some highlights from the panel. One is when the showrunners said they tried to remove as many of the story’s fantasy elements as possible because they “didn’t just want to appeal to that type of fan” but to “mothers” and “NFL players” as well. This may explain why elements like Lady Stoneheart were left out of the show.

They also admitted that they didn’t know what they were doing when they first got the gig. They had no writing experience when they approached George RR Martin about the adaptation and they still don’t know what possessed Martin to entrust them with his life’s work. They may seem strange now with how big of a franchise the series has become, but at the time it was a relative few who knew about Martin’s series of fantasy novels.

Despite ending on a controversial and polarizing note, Game of Thrones broke its own record by earning 32 Emmy Awards nominations for its final season on HBO, which surprised even Weiss and Benioff. In an interview, Weiss said he expected season seven to be the show’s peak in terms of awards recognition “It was kind of surprising. I did not know that we expected that. At least in my mind, I thought that the last season would have been the peak and that we would’ve ended up with maybe a couple less, at best,” Weiss explains. “I felt very happy for all of our team of people, all of the actors and all of the crew who got recognized because each made us feel really proud of them and happy for them, because we know first-hand how hard they worked. We saw it every day for many years.”

Benioff added, “And it’s also just fun because once people get nominated, that means they come to L.A. for the ceremonies. Ten of the actors are nominated, and so many of the crew members, so it’s just a great excuse for everyone to get drunk again.”

Benioff and Weiss also looked back at the entire decade they spent working on Game of Thrones. “To have it become what it became, and to be able to spend not one year or two years but more than ten years of our lives making it at this level, with the people we got to work with, all them, behind the camera…”, Weiss says.

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“We didn’t have any idea that the show would be so big because when we first started going to Northern Ireland, where we shot the show, the customs officers would ask us what we were doing there,” Benioff adds. “We’d say ‘We’re working on this show…’ And they’d say, ‘What is Game of Thorns?’ And then, by the third season, we’d see the customs guys and — literally this happened in the Heathrow Airport — and the guy was reading A Game of Thrones, George’s book, and we knew that something was starting to cross the threshold of public awareness.”

What did you think of the final season of Game of Thrones? Let us know in the comments.

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