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An epic for our times: How Game of Thrones reached highbrow status

Game of Thrones transformed the TV landscape—and brought fantasy to a new, literary audience

By Lucinda Smyth  

Daenerys Targaryen: the interest in Game of Thrones goes beyond fondness for the characters. Photo: HBO

On paper, HBO’s Game of Thrones should be automatically classed as naff, low-brow television. With lurchy shock twists, gratuitous nudity, wooden acting, gimmicky celebrity cameos, and hammy Olde Englyshe dialogue, there’s more than enough here to offend anyone’s tastes. (Despite a budget of $10 million per episode, the special effects are also laughably camp.) Yet last week’s season premier drew 16 million viewers in the US, many of whom then went to the internet…

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