After a long wait, The Witcher finally arrived on Netflix this past week. Predictably, the series has split fans and critics, with one bonehead at Entertainment Weekly admitting he didn’t even bother to watch all the episodes provided before writing his review. Sigh.
One of the most commonly listed criticisms is, The Witcher isn’t the new Game of Thrones. While it’s easy to see the connection between the two, the story of Geralt of Rivia is much more different than the drama in Westeros. It was never meant to be a knock-off or the “new” anything, though it’s certain that Netflix wouldn’t mind the same level of success as George R. R. Martin’s brainchild.
Apart from the fantastical elements of magic, sword fights and horseback riding, The Witcher actually shares more in common with the likes of The Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons. Also, its origin predates Game of Thrones…
While most people are familiar with The Witcher video games, the franchise started as a series of fantasy books written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Geralt’s adventures began in 1993 with the release of the short story collection, The Last Wish. Since then, the stories have been adapted to video games, film, television, graphic novels and tabletop role-playing games.
On the other side of the ocean, A Game of Thrones, Martin’s first book in A Song of Ice and Fire series, was only released in 1996. The fantasy series sold well, but it’s the HBO adaptation that changed everything as it became one of the greatest television shows of all time. That being said, its final season proved to controversial, with many fans petitioning for it to be redone because they didn’t like the ending.
With Game of Thrones over, it’s left a hole that many people want to be filled by another fantasy series. Even if The Witcher was to be the show, it’s unfair to expect it to match what HBO’s epic did so quickly. People are quick to forget that Game of Thrones only clicked into gear after the second or third year, with its first season underwhelming numerous viewers.
We’re living in an instant gratification world, but it’s unreasonable to expect The Witcher to be something it never was meant to be. It’s the equivalent of wanting The Mandalorian to be like Alien because they both take place in space. Let’s judge The Witcher on what it is, not what you think it should be.