On May 19, 2019 , the very last campfire went out. It had been burning for almost a decade and we viewers had gratefully warmed our faces in the rain. We had cried, we had been horrified, but at least we had had each other.
But now, on May 19, 2019, it was over and we just had to pile into the dark in the direction of our respective destinies.
Yes, it is an exaggeration. But little by little, the Game of Thrones aired its final episode, thereby setting the stage for an era of television series so large, so influential, that "everyone" must relate to them.
The phenomenon was called monoculture, and dissertation-long cultural texts have been written about how this monoculture died while Queen Daenerys flushed King's Landing with the fire from her dragons.
The previous decade, the 00s, has been called The golden age of television - a period marked by iconic series: Sopranos, Six feet below and The wire. These were stories that successfully tested the limits of what a modern, adult television audience could handle, both in terms of complexity and unsympathetic characters. The successes created a complete gold rush in the industry - television series became something we talked about, needed to have an opinion on. And above all: be willing to pay for.
Common to the 00's series was that they were shown in old decent tableau television. The companies were lighthouses that broadcast their creations over a mass audience who gratefully followed the light beam with their eyes. Today it looks very different. The 10th was the decade of streaming services. The lonely lighthouses have been replaced by screens with hundreds of choices, worn in users' pockets, always ready to entertain.
The fact that the TV series has moved online has not only increased accessibility, it has also fundamentally changed the content of the series.
It was Netflix that started. At the beginning of the decade, by reading user data, they could see that viewers liked director David Fincher and actor Kevin Spacey. Bang! So they created House of cards, directed by Fincher and starring Spacey. The first user-generated TV series was born.
Since then, we have received countless streaming services that want to bribe their share of the pulsating gold vein - and, of course, analyze user data. Competition has sometimes been stiff when more and more people are to be accommodated in the market. So when Game of Thrones aired its final episode in the summer of 2019, the series had thundered through almost the entire decade that would make it a relic. Game of thrones was born in the era of monoculture and died in a chaos of hundreds of small and medium-sized series. But there is nothing to be sorry about. Chaos is not an abyss but a ladder, as the good Littlefinger would say.
If the 00s were big series for the masses, the 10s became tailor-made series for smaller audiences. The result has been a greater variety of stories. Take a series like Master of none, where all roles are played by minorities. Or a series like Pose exploring the racialized LGBT culture. Or why not Orange is the new black, Handmaid's tale or Big little lies, where the women play all the lead roles and the men squat.
While the film industry was shaken by protests under the hashtag #oscarssowhite and later #metoo, the television industry boasted an accelerating diversity of stories and experiences, both in front of and behind the camera.
Maybe that's also why we saw more a-list actors than ever go from the big to the small screen: Richard Gere, Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Anthony Hopkins, Julia Roberts. The TV shows during the 10's were simply more fun, more moving, than Hollywood.
So perhaps it does not matter that the big TV series got its footing in the past decade. Instead, we got fantastic, sprawling, imaginative and vital television entertainment, even though we didn't have time to see everything.
But that's another thing with the streaming platforms. The content is there waiting. Anyone who has not seen Game of Thrones and any other good series made during the 10's has any chance of doing so later.
Don't miss the Cultural News list of the 10 best TV shows.