Bad writing didn't kill Game of Thrones, but 'bro culture' certainly did.


There are some very angry people in the world right now who have a petition and are not afraid to use it.

The petition in question has already garnered more than 500,000 signatures from disgruntled Game of Thrones fans who are begging HBO, the network that produces the show, to “remake Game of Thrones season eight with competent writers”. According to the signatories, show-runners David Benioff and DB Weiss “have proven themselves to be woefully incompetent writers.”

Blaming the show’s writing has been a popular war cry from fans recently who believe the final season of the blockbuster fantasy series, which is based on  George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series A Song of Ice and Fire, has under delivered its swansong.

But the writing is not solely to blame for the sharp and ill-formed twists and stumbles the series has taken this year. The missteps are instead much more to do with the culture that has sprung up around the show. A culture that has infiltrated both the inner workings of the series and the fandom that supports it.

In this final stage of its life, Game of Thrones has become shrouded in toxic ‘bro culture’ and that has been the crux of some elements of its storytelling downfalls.

Bro culture, which is sometimes also referred to as “dude culture” or “frat culture”, is explained by USA Today as being any type of behaviour that is linked to acts considered synonymous with “typical” traits of masculinity.

It should also be clear that the term “bro” isn’t a simple synonym for “male” or “guy”, but more to do with a way of thinking or speaking that invokes ideas of gender stereotypes, sexism, and even rape culture.


With Game of Thrones season eight, the bro culture problem started long before the first episode ever aired, back when the behind-the-scenes creative team was being assembled for what was always going to be one of the biggest and most-watched runs in television history.

For the final season of Game of Thrones, all six episodes were directed and written by men with show-runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss sharing writing and directing duties David Nutter, Miguel Sapochnik, Bryan Cogman and Dave Hill.

And let me just say, before you start crying out ‘but maybe they just picked the best people for the job! You can’t give people opportunities based on gender!’, allow me to clarify that acclaimed screenwriters Jane Espenson and Vanessa Taylor have both penned brilliant scripts for the show in the past, not to mention the legion of female screenwriters waiting in the wings who have never been given the opportunity to do so.

The women are there, they were just not hired.

With a lack of women in both the writer’s room and the director’s chairs, bro culture has reigned supreme in the final season of Game of Thrones with intricately constructed plot-lines and compelling character development shunned in favour of bro-tastic explosions and cliched hysterical female villains.

Clare Stephens and Holly Wainwright debrief on the latest episode of Game of Thrones on the Mamamia Recaps podcast. Post continues after audio…

Game of Thrones has always been a little murky with the treatment of its female characters, with gratuitous scenes of violence and nudity playing out across the screen over the years.


On the flip side of that, however, it also gave us the cunning and maternal Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), the whip-smart adventurer Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), the playful yet devious Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) and the utterly heroic Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie).

This season we have been gifted with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), our Mother of Dragons, choosing to stamp her feet like some kind of petulant child while at Winterfell and then apparently fast-forwarding through any kind of character development in the final episodes so that she could go full ‘Mad Queen’ and launch into an epic scene of battle and violence.

Add into that the fact that Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) insinuated that the rape and brutality she suffered at the hands of male characters in earlier seasons was a good thing because otherwise, she would ‘stayed a little bird forever”.

Using rape to justify character development is a storytelling trick that has been employed by many male writers in the past, a lazy technique that should have no place in TV’s biggest show.

Despite taking a look over Game of Throne’s ‘greatest hits’ the crux of the show has never been it’s blood, gore and violence. Those scenes have always been present, but they were also fuelled by hours of careful and quiet storytelling buildup.

The iconic Red Wedding would not have been so impactful if the story threads leading up to it had not been so carefully weaved together.

But as momentum around Game of Thrones quickened, as viewing parties become more thirsty for scenes with excess blood than quiet character conversations, and as people responded more positively to shock value over storytelling, Game of Thrones began to feed the hungry hoards what they wanted.


If you require any more proof that bro culture is now running Game of Thrones, look no further than its penultimate episode The Bells and the addition of ‘Cleganebowl’.

Cleganebowl is the long-awaited and much hyped Game of Thrones fan theory featuring a bloody and brutal fight to the death between brothers Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) and Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson).

In the behind-the-scenes features of the episode, show-runners Benioff and Weiss alluded to it as the moment everyone has been waiting for; these same men who have said in the past that they never let fan whims dictate the story.

It was a showdown that was not built up through the books and barley touched on in the show, with a few seeds of vengeance only sown into Sandor’s storyline lazily in season seven. The addition of this scene came at the cost of allowing audiences more insight into Daenerys’ breakdown or Cersei’s final moments of true defeat.

All so that the bros in the audience could yell happily at their TVs while eyes were gouged.

So before you sign a petition that savages the show’s writing, just remember that fandom also helped guide Game of Thrones to this point.

For more stories like this, you can follow Mamamia Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik on Facebook.  You can also visit our newsletter page and sign up to “TV and Movies”  for a backstage pass to the best movies, TV shows and celebrity interviews (see one of her newsletters here). 

Catch up on all our Game of Thrones recaps, right here: