On Watching HBO Shows With My Mom

How my mom and I fell into the type of mother-daughter relationship where we can jokingly chat about siblings having anal with each other on a Sunday night.
Publish date:
May 22, 2012
parents, family drama, hbo, Game of Thrones


I watch HBO with my mom. I don’t think this is a particularly big deal. I mean, I like watching quality television and she likes watching quality television. It just so happens that the quality television that we both like watching happens to encompass shows like "Game of Thrones," where there’s a lot of violence, and even more sex.

I suppose the reason why we’re OK with watching the show on Sunday nights and then immediately calling each other up to discuss what just happened is because we have a long history of discussing “mature” topics.

Some of my best memories growing up are going to rated R films with my mom in my tweens. This isn't because I got some naughty glee out of my mother “corrupting” me. It's because "Saving Private Ryan" and "Shakespeare in Love" were really good films. I was a little 13-year-old culture snob and I was psyched to get to finally get to see these films in the theater. I was doubly psyched that my mom thought I was mature enough to handle it.

You may ask how my mother knew that I was old enough to handle the visceral Normandy beach scene or Gwyneth Paltrow's breasts. I actually don't think she knew if I could handle it or not. That's why she made the rule that if I was going to watch a rated R film, I'd have to see it with her.

I do remember feeling twinges of adolescent embarrassment during the sex scenes. I’d blush and glance sideways at her face to see if she could tell how intrigued I was about sex.

She would always stare right back at me with a similar “Oh! Is this really happening? Should we feel embarrassed? It’s just sex, right? Should we feel embarrassed?” face.

By and large, though, I remember chomping gleefully on a handful of SweetTarts and getting enraptured in each and every film we saw together in the theaters. And I remember driving in the car home from the movie theater, openly discussing what I’d just seen (the good, bad and the horrifying) with my mother.

For a long time, I thought the reason why my mom chose to do this was to expose me to adult themes while letting me feel safe in forming my own informed opinions about them. Years later, she’d reveal that the only reason she took me to these movies was because she wanted to see them but couldn’t afford to hire a sitter or find a friend who shared her taste in cinema.

And that's how my mom and I fell into the type of mother-daughter relationship where we can jokingly chat about siblings having anal with each other on a Sunday night.

My mom: "She’s willing to have a threesome with him and her brother. That’s very thoughtful of her."

I coerced my mom into watching "Game of Thrones" last year because having read all of books I knew it would be the only thing that could fill the void that Rome’s cancelation left in her heart.

Her response to the show was hilarious. She called Daenerys “the Albino chick” and declared that Tyrion Lannister was “a hunk.” I giggled as I told one of my best comedian pals, Jake Young, about it and he immediately stopped and said, “You know that’s a Tumblr, right?”

So, I started a blog called My Mom Watches Game of Thrones and overnight it garnered hundreds of followers, and then a few weeks later, thousands. Now I have this weird double life where I blog about myself by day and then transcribe my mother’s television commentary for an even larger audience by night.

Because the Internet now knows that we watch brothel scenes and beheadings as mother-daughter bonding time, I’ve had to start examining why this is even weird. A lot of people who read the blog have reached out to me to bluntly ask, "Aren’t you uncomfortable with your mom watching an HBO show?" To which, I have to ask back, "Why should I be uncomfortable with my mom watching an HBO show?"

Look, I'm not going to deny that Game of Thrones is adult programming, but my mother was an adult before I was born. She has worked in a hospital. She has seen dead and mutilated bodies up close. She has made and delivered babies. I think she can handle a fictional program set in a world where dragons are real. I have a very high opinion of my mother’s maturity level.

My mom: "She couldn’t possibly be giving birth to Stannis’s child. There’s no time! THIS IS BAD. OH. MELISANDRE IS BAD."

The second question I get is "Aren’t you uncomfortable with your mom knowing you’re watching an HBO show?" To which, I again ask back, "Why should I be?"

Look, my mother knows I’m an adult. She's knows I'm an adult who can handle her shit because she's the one who raised me to adulthood. She knows that if I see people behave morally reprehensible or foolishly on television, that I’m wise enough not to copy those behaviors. She has a very high opinion of my maturity level.

Boobs are boobs, sex is sex, curse words are just words, and violence has always happened. I shouldn’t feel some sort of embarrassment for knowing that these things exist and my mom wouldn’t know me at all if she didn’t already know that I know these things exists. As I said before, it’s not a big deal.

That said, when I was 16, we rented "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and we couldn’t get through the first half hour without blushing, giggling nervously, turning the film off and promising to forget that the explicit oral sex scene ever happened. So, maybe it’s kind of a tiny deal. Not a big deal, but a tiny one.