When talking about hit TV shows, it's hard to find a list that doesn't mention either The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. Pairing those two, however, generally means a long debate among fans about which is better, more expensive or which one amasses the biggest ratings. Speaking of ratings, if we compare the Season 7 premiere of both shows, the difference in viewership is a mere one million viewers — with The Walking Dead taking the lead at 17 million.
But, while both shows have some of the biggest — and most devoted — fandoms, the similarities and differences between George R. R. Martin's masterpiece, and Robert Kirkman's dystopian phenomenon go far beyond genre, universe or even ratings. Truth be told, after that record breaking 17 million viewers for the premiere, #TheWalkingDead's rating dropped bit by bit with each passing episode, while #GameofThrones has maintained a pretty solid viewership throughout its seasons.
As a fan of both shows, it's nearly impossible to watch an episode of one without comparing it to the other, and that's exactly what I found myself doing as I watched the #GameofThronesSeason7 premiere. Much of the cinematography, camera angles and editing of both shows is so similar that seeing Samwell Tarly go through his daily routine of bedpan cleaning and soup pouring I was instantly reminded of the "Town Called Malice" montage on The Walking Dead last season. The only difference is that Dwight ended up wth a pretty neat sandwich, while Sam closed off his day with some light reading about dragonglass.
Another similarity between #HBO's Game of Thrones and #AMC's The Walking Dead is the depths that the shows' producers and writers go to help satisfy avid fans in search of nearly-impossible-to-find #EasterEggs. Whether it's the cure to greyscale randomly written on a page of the book Samwell was reading on Game of Thrones, or a drawing of #Negan's Lucille on the butt of a gun in The Walking Dead, the hints and subtleties on both shows are masterly crafted in.
Yet So Different.
Now, of course both Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead have built a pretty hefty fanbase over their many seasons, but it's one thing to tweak something here and there to make the formula even better; and it's a whole other thing to fix something that isn't broken. The one issue that, throughout the whole seventh season of The Walking Dead, caused fans to complain most about was the fact that each episode was centered on one particular community exclusively. We'd get one episode of Negan's Sanctuary, then another of Ezekiel's Kingdom, but only in the finale did we get every single character that mattered in the same episode.
The pacing is something that Game of Thrones is very consistent about, so much so in fact that, in each and every season, fans of the show anxiously await for the ninth episode — which is the flagship of each installment. In this latest premiere, Game of Thrones carried on connecting the dots and bringing back every character with a story yet to unfold in the same episode. The Walking Dead used to be praised for doing exactly the same thing, but despite having a winning formula it changed gears last season.
At the end of the day, what makes these shows the greatest on television isn't the ratings or the compelling storytelling. It's you and me, and every single fan who tunes in or streams the episodes, dissects it with a notepad on the side, discusses it with anyone, anywhere (at the risk of sounding completely and hopelessly addicted) and every season enlists one more new viewer to watch the show and share the hype. And we're all very lucky that Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead are helmed by such insightful producers. Ones that understand who they're making the shows for, and always find better and more grandiose ways to surprise us and fall back into our graces.
What's your favorite season of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead so far? Are you a fan of both shows? Let's discuss them a bit more in the comments!