The Bumbling Tale of Benioff and Weiss

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Jeff Kravitz/HBO

After the news yesterday of the Game of Thrones creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss having to leave a Star Wars trilogy on the table, I was shocked. I was a little sympathetic to their cause though. As a writer, sometimes things pile up and you have to just cut bait on things. Now, cutting bait on Star Wars seems a bit stupid to me, but more on that later. Fans of Game of Thrones have been very vocal about their displeasure with these two fellows. I chalked that up to fans of “Dragons and Titties”, as I call it, being mad that their favorite show is over. After an AVClub article displaying how the two got the Game of Thrones gig, I’m less convinced that they know what they’re doing. I can now safely say that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are the luckiest men in Hollywood.

Clueless To Say The Least

At the Austin Film Festival, the two had a panel where they went through the genesis of Game of Thrones. First off, you have to read this to believe it. If you’ve ever gone to school for screenwriting (like I have), taken a class about screenwriting, read a book about screenwriting, or even just thought about writing a movie, you would probably do better than these two did for the pilot of Thrones. You learn very early on that there are just some things you don’t do. They had basic writing mistakes in the pilot. Which if you’re keeping score, is the last episode of your show you want mistakes in.

Now I’m not going to crap on any writers that take the chance to go for something they want. But these two meeting George R.R. Martin for the first time is a class in comedy. Normally you meet up and display your credentials with whoever you’re meeting. It’s just like a rite of passage in Hollywood. If you have no credentials, you have nothing. Well, guess who won the pony?

These two idiots.

Martin asked them for their credentials, and they said they had none.

We don’t know why he trusted us with his life’s work.

Benioff and Weiss on George Martin trusting them with A Song of Ice and Fire

Frustrating Enough to Make Your Blood Pressure Rise

If that’s not enough to make you mad that these two geniuses got $250 million from Netflix to make properties for them, the actual creation and pilot of Game of Thrones will. Writer of Chernobyl, Craig Mazin, watched the dismal effort at a pilot that they made. He espoused that it was filled with writing mistakes and poor choices. HBO went forward with the show anyway. Why did they? The show had great pre-sale numbers in foreign countries.

They were under the normal HBO runtime for their pilot episode and other episodes. So HBO ordered that they add 100 minutes of run-time overall. The two bloviating dummies decided that Cersei and Robert Baratheon had to have some more scenes together. Easy enough. Except they didn’t have any scenes together during the current incarnation of the show. So they quickly realized this mistake.

During the panel, the two openly acknowledged that they didn’t understand the characters that they were writing and this process helped them understand them a little better. Throughout the show, they let the actors dictate their own writing for the characters. So instead of writing the characters as their own, they wrote the characters for the actors. Another big no-no in screenwriting 101.

The Final Nail In The Coffin

If you’re writing for something with a fan-base as rabid as Martin’s books, you want to satisfy the basic scope and genre of that book, right? Wrong. High-fantasy was too hard for these two idiots to write. So they took all the fantasy elements that they could, out.

“We didn’t want to appeal to that type of fan”

Benioff and Weiss about taking all the fantasy out of Martin’s books.

I understand that adapting something as massive as those books is a difficult task. So you try to take it chunk by chunk until you’re done. These two didn’t do that. They didn’t want to boil the plot down and take it bit by bit. They cherry-picked what they wanted out of the original books and stuck to the basic idea of the show being about power.

The final step of becoming a crappy screenwriter is not outlining or doing any prep work for writing. Can you guess who started off not outlining their projects? Benioff and Weiss. So when you write something as large and grandiose as this, you’d want an outline or a treatment (your bible of the movie/tv show). They didn’t start with any of that and were only forced into doing prep because it got too confusing.

Thank God Benioff and Weiss Are Not Touching Star Wars

Benioff and Weiss
Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

If you’re sitting out there and you have a couple copies of The Last Jedi burning in your furnace, the thought of Rian Johnson makes you sick. I’m not as big of a Star Wars man-baby that gets triggered the second I see a lady with purple hair, but I know for a fact these two would have sucked all the fun and sci-fi out of Star Wars. So let’s count our blessings that we might have dodged a bullet as fans of the greatest franchise in human history.

If you told me that Lucasfilm and Disney were allowing me to write a new Star Wars film for after the Skywalker Saga ends, 1. I would crap my pants, and 2. you’d have to cut my hands off to stop me from doing it. These two couldn’t find it out of their busy schedule to write a STAR WARS TRILOGY. I’m guessing that Netflix also pushed them into acting on their five year contract that they signed also.

So by acts of God, dumb luck, and whatever else, Benioff and Weiss are now influential people in Hollywood that have creative decisions over important properties. But thankfully, Star Wars is no longer one of those things.

For more on the two bumbling idiots of Hollywood, Star Wars, and any other pop culture properties, check back to That Hashtag Show.

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