Do women like Game of Thrones Depends on whether you ask the articles people write on the subject or the actual demographic data since they often come to very different conclusions. Shortly after the the 2011 debut of HBO s medieval drama a scathing New York Times review dismissed the series as boy fiction and inexplicably suggested that the show was oversexualized (mostly using naked women) out of a justifiable fear perhaps that no woman alive would watch otherwise. More recently Thrillist posted an insulting article called Why Your Girl Hates Game of Thrones whose reasons included women hate gross things it s hard to follow and it reminds women of the kids that used to play magic sic cards in the cafeteria. (As if that s a bad thing to be reminded of )
While this doesn t track with our experiences we know just as many women as men who love the show including Wired s knowledgeable Game of Thrones recapper Senior Editor Laura Hudson the myth persists that Thrones is just guy stuff. So as fans of math gender equality and any show that heavily features Daenerys Targaryen (above) we decided to find out Do women actually hate Game of Thrones
Viewership and positive social media activity by gender for the current season of Game of Thrones
According to statistics provided to Wired by Nielsen approximately 2 million women are tuning in to the show on average each week about 42 percent of Thrones total 4.8 million viewers. While that isn t quite half it s far closer than you d expect for a show with a reputation for alienating ladies. Sure some of HBO s shows do better True Blood and its muscled shirtless male vampires earned a 52 percent female viewership for its average 4.6 million weekly watchers last season. But other critically acclaimed series have a far bigger gender divide the 2.6 million viewers for Season 5 of AMC s Breaking Bad were a mere 36 percent female.
On top of that the female viewership of Game of Thrones is talking about it quite a bit. According to Fizziology which tracks social media buzz about TV shows during a week earlier this month women are having a full 50 percent of the online conversations about Game of Thrones. And they re not tweeting God I hate this show The data Fizziology provided to Wired only looked at positive mentions of the fantasy drama. Just for balance we also asked Fizziology for the same number for Mad Men because according to the Thrillist post Girls may hate Game of Thrones but we love Don Draper. That s true but only one percentage point more than they love Tyrion Lannister (or whoever) since women account for 51 percent of the Mad Men social media conversation. Meanwhile only 40 percent of the conversation about Breaking Bad was coming from women s social media feeds.
So considering the viewership and conversation statistics (and the fact that there are fewer awesome female characters on Breaking Bad than Game of Thrones) it seems the harrowing meth drama should be the one painted as the tougher sell for females rather than Game of Thrones.
So why are we still having this conversation even though it isn t supported by either data or the experiences of most fans Because the conversation isn t really about people so much as it is about stereotypes. In addition to being about toolboxes like Joffrey Game of Thrones is also about fantasy and direwolves and stuff and even in 2013 there are probably people male and female who think that s entirely the realm of dudes. (See also any argument about which gender should be granted admittance to the clubhouse of sports comics books NASCAR My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic hip hop G.I. Joe the Hunger Games books or the film Animal House). Now it s happening to Game of Thrones even though the numbers don t really support it.
This kind of treatment of women as if they re narrow fantasy averse or pervy makes me want to slowly and carefully lower my forehead to my desk repeatedly in imitation of Mad Men s Peggy Olson Slate writer Alyssa Rosenberg wrote in a fine answer to the Thrillist post adding that there s something bizarre about the inability to imagine that some women dig stories about swords and sorcery.
At the very least the Nielsen data should allow us all to finally accede to the simple request in Rosenberg s headline Stop saying women don t like Game of Thrones already.