If you’re a Game Of Thrones fan, you’ve probably met your fair share of people who are anti-Game Of Thrones and, as a result, have had a conversation that looks something like this:
“I’m not really into dragons.”
“It’s not a show about dragons.”
“What's it about, then?”
“It's a show about BEING ALIVE.”
Right? I mean, yes, it’s kind of a show about dragons and I enjoyed watching those dragons set the Tyrells’ grain on fire as much as the next guy, but that’s not the point. If you take out all the armour, war, incest, sadism, zombies, sigils, flags, amputations, capes, scrolls, ravens and bedpans, Game Of Thrones is about a bunch of people who are all trying to get ahead at work. That’s it.
Daenerys and Cersei are up for the same promotion. Sansa is struggling with a title change. Jon still doesn’t know his email signature. Gilly is constantly being interrupted by Sam, even though she literally is holding the golden ticket to the secret at the centre of the entire series, just because she’s a working-class chick with a baby and an accent. Olenna got ousted by the company when she became too senior and problematic, but not before being given a tasteful retirement party and a final toast.
But the number-one way in which Game Of Thrones is just a very fancy, very complicated workplace drama is this: involuntary mentors.
Aaaaaaaah, the involuntary mentor. Not to be confused with a regular mentor, who takes you for lunch every now and then and helps you understand what your goals are. No, the involuntary mentor is someone – usually a bloke who is 10+ years older than you, somewhat senior, but probably not as important as he’d like to be – decides that he will help mould your “potential”, realise your “promise”, and at some point try to have “sex” with “you” in his “car”.
Enter: Littlefinger and Ser Jorah Mormont.
Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish is one of the longest-surviving villains on Game Of Thrones, and is also the guy in finance who you’re supposed to file your expenses to, and every time you do, he gives you a weird tip on how to get more money in your next round of expenses. “Just file all your taxis under ‘client transport’,” he says, seeming harmless and possibly even fun after a couple of drinks. But before you know it, you’re in way over your head and there are startling rumours that you and Littlefinger got off with each other at the Christmas drinks.
(Littlefinger may also take the form of a man who favourites your tweets constantly and, once a week, will pop in your mentions to make a shit pun.)
Unfortunately being a woman in the workplace means you occasionally just have to listen to men try and teach you things.
Littlefinger, both in the show and in your office, gets quietly ahead by telling people what they want to hear and appearing non-threatening. He will teach you to be quiet and non-threatening, also. He will teach you many things, regardless of whether not you would like to be taught them, because unfortunately being a woman in the workplace means you occasionally just have to listen to men try and teach you things. Things that are incorrect or outdated. Things like Microsoft Excel, even though Google Sheets does the exact same job. It is up to both you and Sansa Stark to sever this connection, regardless of how awkward it is, regardless of how many times he gave you change for the vending machine or loaned his army to your brother.
Jorah Mormont is Daenerys’ devoted servant who, according to a letter he recently wrote to her while dying of greyscale, has loved her “since the moment I met you”. For some reason, no one in the vast, complex Game Of Thrones fandom seemed to pick up on how creepy that is. The moment Jorah met Dany, she was a teenager, who had just been sold into marriage. Jorah is, what, 50? I’m going to say Jorah is fifty. I would say that Jorah’s “love” of a teenager is stretching the boundaries of fantasy, but unfortunately I live in the world and I have been both a teenager and an intern.
Jorah is the kind of mentor that you don’t ask for, but still get convinced that you definitely need. The one that is startlingly senior to you and is always publicly telling people how good you are. You will probably not notice when this public praise starts to get inappropriate.
If you are watching Game Of Thrones as a woman who has lived in the professional world, you’ll probably recognise the involuntary mentor for what he is: someone who knows it’s inappropriate to ask you out, so instead hovers near you in the hopes his professional help will translate into sex. If you’re young, or watching with someone younger than you, then beware – the night is dark and full of dirtbags.