Gregor or Sandor? Ned? Edd? Neddard? How do you spell the name of the character played by Aiden Gillen? Peter Baylish? (It’s Petyr Baelish.) Is it Osha or Asha? Who is Yara? Who are any of this people?
Barack Obama, the president of the United States, has no idea either.
In a great Nov. 17 interview in GQ with former ESPN personality and soon-to-be HBO host Bill Simmons, Obama revealed much about his human side. He compared his even-keeled temperament—which he credits with helping him survive a two-term presidency—to the unflustered presence of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “You can’t be distracted by what’s around you,” Obama said. “You’ve got to be looking downfield.”
Obama also talked about his family: how first lady Michelle is ready to go back to a normal life, and how he now feels like an uncool dad, losing both of his teenage daughters to their cell phones.
It was the kind of interview you rarely see from sitting presidents (though Obama, nearing the end of his second and final term, doesn’t have to worry about getting elected again). Obama, it turns out, is a pretty normal guy. And nothing shows that more than one particular trait he shares with millions of Americans and others around the world: the inability to remember all the names of Game of Thrones characters.
Which character do you identify with?
My favorite character is probably…the dwarf, what’s his name?
Oh, yeah. Peter Dinklage’s character.
The problem with Game of Thrones, though, is that I don’t remember the names of any of the characters.
I don’t, either.
I remember the characters, so when I watch it, I know exactly what’s going on. But if you read a review of the show afterwards and they’re mentioning such and such, the only one I remember is Jon Snow, because I can pronounce Jon Snow.
Just so you know, Mr. President, the dwarf’s name is Tyrion. That’s one you should know.
HBO’s Game of Thrones, like The Lord of the Rings and other fantasy stories before it, includes dozens and dozens of characters and most of them have strange names, and many of those names sound very similar to each other. Other characters have multiple names. Some don’t have any names at all.
While the complex world of Game of Thrones might turn off some viewers, it’s weirdly charming to others. You don’t have to know every character’s name by heart to enjoy the show. In fact, unless you are an avid reader of the novels, it’s more likely than not that you don’t know many of the characters’ names, or are introduced to a new character, and forget it halfway through the episode.
So next time you’re scratching your head over whether the scene you just watched involved a Bolton, Baratheon, Tully, or Targaryen, know that Barack Obama can commiserate. We just hope he’s better at remembering the names of world leaders.