My Take

Game of Thrones' Tyrion Lannister: an archetype on a not-so-big throne

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 April, 2015, 6:48am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 April, 2015, 6:48am

Today's a big day. Why? Hey, it's the first episode of season five of Game of Thrones. We fans have been waiting with bated breath since the end of the last season with the escape of Arya Stark from the Hound and Tyrion Lannister killing his ruthlessly cunning father sitting on a latrine with his pants down. Haha, Daddy had it coming!

Actually, I am not really a GOT fan, just a fan of Tyrion, played by the wonderfully witty but sad-eyed Peter Dinklage. Dinklage is now a bona fide sex symbol, having been on the cover of Vanity Fair and GQ. And he is shorter than my 11-year-old daughter.

This has been something of a mystery to most men, but not to women around the world, the young, old and middle-aged who adore him. The extreme sex and violence - beheadings, slaughters, torture, rape and fraying in the series - appeal to mostly men. If I am correct, there is not a single actress in the series who didn't have at least one nude scene. And that includes the Amazonian Brienne of Tarth! Apparently Jessica Henwick, billed as the series' first Asian actress, has it written in her contract that she wouldn't have to do a nude scene. Good luck to that, Jessica.

But Tyrion appeals to most women, regardless of his physical height. He may be the only thing in the series that keeps a steady female audience for the television series. That's because he represents a universal dramatic type well-known to appeal to women: a melancholy drunk who survives by his wit, a rake who is nevertheless kindhearted and sometimes goes out of his way to help victims he hardly knows.

"I have a weakness for broken things," Tyrion once said.

Where have you seen him before? Well, if you are Chinese, think Wei Xiaobao, the witty, sly, illiterate, and lazy fake eunuch, literally the son of a whore in The Deer and the Cauldron, the last classic martial arts novel of Louis Cha Leung-yung. For sure, Wei is not a midget. But it's the personality that counts.

And if you are a Westerner, think Svidrigailov, a minor character in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment who is more intriguing than the novel's more famous heroes, a libertine capable of real kindness. These characters are an archetype, and the genius of HBO is to have a very short man play one.