Game of Thrones sits firmly on the Iron Throne of television, presiding over all other shows in its viewership, internet buzz, award nominations, and sheer scope. Because of that, the fact that Season 7 will air during the summer instead of the spring will have a butterfly effect on the rest of TV.
Since GoT is a spring show, that season has come to signify the presence of Serious Dramas. Summer is, traditionally, the season that features comedies (BoJack Horseman, Survivor’s Remorse, Vice Principles, Ballers) or oddball shows that networks aren’t quite sure what to do with (Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, Feed the Beast, or Animal Kingdom). Summer television isn’t bad per se — sometimes the outside-the-box shows end up being unexpected gems, like Mr. Robot — but it’s an unpredictable melting pot.
But in 2017, the biggest show on television will air in the summer. This will change two important things. Firstly, summer TV will feel less inconsequential. Game of Thrones is dark and full of terrors and constant attention. This ranges from water-cooler talk at the office to Twitter talk to endless think pieces dissecting even the most minute plot points. The Culture pays attention to GoT in a particular and unique way. It isn’t likely to devote that much thought to any other show, but the microscope might bleed over to some of the surrounding shows.
The second effect will be that spring TV will give other shows a chance. Because GoT stirs so much internet chatter that builds upon itself, begetting more chatter, it’s easy for other shows to drown in the Game of Thrones wave. That’s partially why Penny Dreadful was cancelled even though it pretends it wasn’t — of course its ratings were down; it aired on the same night as GoT. Without all the oxygen being sucked from the room, other spring shows will have more room to breathe.
Pushing Game of Thrones’s air date back three months might seem like a small annoyance that is otherwise insignificant in the grander scheme of things. But it might just shake up the current mix of Peak TV and the way certain shows get noticed and talked about while others go ignored. It might sound odd to say about the show that hogs the spotlight, but Season 7 will even the playing field. And that’s worth sending a raven about. Unlikely as it seems, there might be some altruism to Queen Cersei’s reign after all.