Game Of Thrones hasn’t just been a success for HBO, it’s been an international sensation.
The third series of the epic show kicked off last night in America and tonight here on Sky Atlantic and over the last two years has become the flagship show for the prestigious American cable channel and broken into the national pop culture consciousness.
Even Merlin, which itself had a very strong following in the UK, hasn't achieved the same levels of cross-continental glory that Game Of Thrones enjoys.
But why has this series succeeded where so many have failed, making a fantasy show loved by just about everyone and not just the niche audience that they usually find?
Let’s be honest here, fantasy can be off putting to some. All the talk of wizards, magic and goblins can send some running for the hills, even before they’ve even given the show a chance. Thankfully, Game Of Thrones has largely avoided the clichés that might make those late to the party sceptical.
It might have the odd dragon and some rather large wolves, but this is a fantasy world that is based very much in the blood and guts of medieval times. This isn’t a show about a prophecy, a chosen one or a mystical object that can control the hearts of your enemies; this is a brutal and nasty political fight for power.
While the show is getting more fantastical with time, the characters on screen seem to react with the same shock and surprise as we do watching on from home. Stannis’ expression of pure horror with what the fire priestess summons is perfectly reflexive of the faces we’re pulling on our sofas.
It may also sound crude, but the show’s rather graphic content is also a factor as to why the show has become such a mainstream success. Sex and death have always been two very viable marketing techniques and as sad as it makes me to say, but I have convinced friends of mine who wouldn’t usually touch fantasy with a barge pole to tune in simply on those factors alone.
The show itself also looks a million dollars too (namely as it costs much more than that), never looking like a cheap TV production and every way the sort of big-budget production that could easily been seen on the big screen. It might seem simple, but the show looking like so good makes a big impact to those sat on the sidelines.
The strength of the source material mustn’t be discounted either, as George R.R. Martin has created a fantastically deep and surprisingly realistic and relatable world for these characters to exist in. Characters which themselves are brilliantly realised, flawed in the right ways and come in more shades of grey than Christian and Anastasia can shake a riding crop at.
All these factors have combined to make a show that’s become a powerhouse of TV, a cultural colossus
Why do you think that the series has been so incredibly successful? Let us know in the comments sections.
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