News & Politics

Stop Comparing Washington to "Game of Thrones" Before It’s Too Late

Winter is coming. So are lame references to the show.

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is on the run from his sister, and your Game of Thrones clickbait. Photograph by Macall B. Polay via HBO.

The TV-watching masses are brimming with anticipation for the fifth season of Game of Thrones, which premieres Sunday at 9 PM. But three days before anyone has had the chance to log into their parents’ HBO Go accounts and catch up on the travails of Jon Snow, Arya Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, and the rest of George R.R. Martin’s brood, the internet is already lousy with the worst kind of Game of Thrones detritus: cheap posts that attempt to explain Washington politics in terms of the show’s characters or visual tropes.

The latest offender? This video—which presumably took a lot of time to compose—from the Washington Post, in which the District is laid out on a map similar to the one in Game of Thrones‘s iconic credit sequence, but with the Capitol and the White House subbing in for Westerosi landmarks like King’s Landing and the Eyrie, and the actors’ names are replaced by congressional leaders (who all get House Stark sigils, for some reason) and Supreme Court justices.

Some people might think it clever, but really, it’s just the first assault in a yearly wave of lame attempts to astroturf excitement for a mostly boring political process by invoking a constantly exciting television show. Before the Post’s slick video is followed by too many other examples, an explainer is in order:

I have a hot take on the national political process. Should I attempt to explain it through Game of Thrones?


But what if I want to name real-life politicians’ Westerosi counterparts in a fun list?

Also no.

Forget Washington. How about we apply Game of Thrones to the Middle East?

Hey, now that you mention it, maybe the House of Saud is kind of like House Lannist—wait, no. This is also bad.

Seven hells, Freed! Didn’t you and two friends once publish a comparison of DC politics to Game of Thrones?

OK, fine. But that was in Season Two when it was still cool, plus ours was about local politicians, not federal. And in our defense, we drew our comparisons from the books, not the show. Also just as the show is now skewing far from the canon of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, our casting calls were wildly divergent from real life.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.