But the New York Times has done this not once, but twice regarding the Game of Thrones on HBO.
Last year, Ginia Bellafante said the following:
Keeping track of the principals alone feels as though it requires the focused memory of someone who can play bridge at a Warren Buffett level of adeptness. In a sense the series, which will span 10 episodes, ought to come with a warning like, :If you can’t count cards, please return to reruns of Sex and the City".
And this year, Neil Genzlinger took an equally vicious slash at New York Times readers who may have wanted to join the fun this year:
The character board for the series on HBO’s Web site has 49 head shots on it. Thinking of jumping into the new season without having seen the first? Don’t even try; your brain doesn’t have that many neurons.
Because it isn't the fact that they don't like it, because hey, we are all entitled to our opinion, and he is getting paid to share his. No, it is the dismissive attitude that the critic is using to paint Game of Thrones as this thing that only geeks... no, scratch that... something only this small subset of geeks could ever like.
It is part of the reason Roger Ebert's dismissal of video games irks me as well... because there is this attitude that anyone who likes them is dumb or wasting their lives. That's what these reviews in the Times reek of.
It's as if somewhere down the line, editorially they've just decided that fantasy is juvenile and should be treated as such. A commenter on the Io9/Geek With Curves article discussing the NYT review got right to the point of these reviews: "in short, 'if you're a basement dwelling NERD, go right ahead. the rest of us ADULTS have more important and artful things to watch, harumph.' "
The reason why I like Game of Thrones isn't the setting. It could take place during the Second World War, the High Middle Ages, in Japan, in the far future, and it would still be compelling. The setting is made for the struggles of its characters, it is true, but with tweaks, it could take place almost anywhere, any time. It is the characters themselves, in both the books and as portrayed on the small screen, that make it compelling in many of the ways other shows championed by critics (including at the New York Times) are.
Using the genre trappings of a series to utterly dismiss it is the worst kind of criticism, since it is based not on the content. You couldn't write a book report with that kind of superficiality, but apparently reviewers for one of the most prominent papers in history can get away with it.