In Depth

Game of Thrones: Five reasons why the fantasy series rules TV

With its blend of sex, guts and gore this big-budget drama attracts 'historians and housewives'

THE third series of the big-budget fantasy drama Game of Thrones made its debut last night, attracting record audiences and gushing reviews. Critics say HBO's adaption of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels, is the best thing on TV. Here are five reasons why the drama – which is Sky Atlantic's highest rating show - has become a sensation:

The British love fantasy: Game of Thrones shouldn't be seen as a "surprise" hit, says Ed Cumming in the Daily Telegraph. After all, the Brits love fantasy. "Our nation after all has been raised on childish versions of fantasy, from Narnia to Hogwarts to Wonderland", he writes. But Game of Thrones doesn't just portray a fantasy world – a "grim brutality" informs the struggle between warring families to rule over the fictional land of Westero. The resulting drama attracts "housewives and historians, as well as the expected men with beards".

Sex: The series is notoriously racy. Gawker's Meredith Woerner recently pondered if it would be possible to make a porn parody of the show. "Seriously.. How do you create something dirtier than the actual series?", she writes. Some, like The Independent's Neela Debnath find the sex scenes "gratuitous" and others believe the frequent nudity is one of the many reasons for Game of Thrones' success.

Guts and Gore: As well as sex, Game of Thrones promises plenty of blood, guts and gore. George Shunick, writing on the US website Policymic, points out that many of the show's characters "suffer grisly, violent, and undignified fates". For the Telegraph, the perpetual violence is another reason why the show is so "gripping".

The drama: According to FemaleFirst Game of Thrones has become a "cultural colossus" because of the show's writing. "The characters on screen seem to react with the same shock and surprise as we do watching on from home", says the website's Cameron Smith. For Policymic, there are no "weak links" in the show's roll call of characters: "Some you will love, others you will hate, but all are compelling."

The big budget: It's a series which looks – and costs - a million dollars. According to MSN's Dan Owen the drama is a "visual feast" – thanks in part to the $5 million per episode price tag.

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