With the controversial final season of Game of Thrones now receding into memory, there’s a sizeable gap in the schedule for an adult fantasy show. Amazon’s big bet is their mega-budget Lord of the Rings and HBO is working on a Game of Thrones prequel, but Netflix is first out of the gate with The Witcher.
The series adapts Andrzej Sapkowski’s classic fantasy novels, which most domestic audiences are familiar with via the excellent batch of RPGs by CD Projekt Red. Right now, The Witcher is the highest-rated show on Netflix, a second season is already in production and we’re hearing that a third has been greenlit, too. But how is showrunner Lauren Hissrich reacting to her success?
Well, in an interview with Variety, she’s revealed that she paid attention to the mistakes Game of Thrones made when interacting with their fans and is determined to do better, saying:
“I wanted to have a dialogue with the fans. I put myself on Twitter very, very early on and announced who I was, what I was doing, and was met with all sorts of reactions, good and bad, but I stuck around. What I want people to know is that I love this franchise. It doesn’t mean I’m going to do everything that fans want me to do, or do it the way they think it should be done, but as long as they know I’m trying to honor the same thing that they love because I love it too, I tell myself we’ll be all good.”
She also went to argue that despite both Game of Thrones and The Witcher featuring lots of violence and nudity – which many critics have pointed out – they’re handling it in a different way, explaining:
“Personally it drives me crazy if there is gratuitous violence for the sake of shocking the audience, or if you’re having a conversation over here and two people in the background are just naked. I need to understand why they’re naked and ‘What does that say about the characters?’ I hope in every situation the audience thinks I get it.”
Also differentiating it from Game of Thrones are the more comedic elements, as she says:
“The comedy is what separates ‘Witcher’ from a lot of other fantasy material like ‘Game of Thrones.’ It comes from an organic place which is that Andrzej Sapkowski is Polish, and he was telling me a lot about what it was like to grow up in Poland at a time when their country was being constantly taken over by other countries, there was a lot of political turmoil, a lot of people died, a lot of conflict, and yet you still have to get up every day and put one foot in front of the other and continue on with your life. He said, ‘How do people deal with tragedy? They laugh.’ Bringing that aspect into a fantasy show is really fresh and had never really been done before. It was really important to me to keep in that in, and I hope the fans appreciate it.”
Most who’ve seen The Witcher agree that Hissrich has done a great job, faithfully adapting the books while giving fans of the games enough nods to know they’ve been seen. Here’s hoping that they get to wrap up all these plotlines in a satisfying manner and that the show continues to demonstrate the narrative complexity and wit that have made it such a winning prospect.