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Associated Press
HBO’s "Game of Thrones" garnered 19 Emmy Award nominations last week. The Emmys will be handed out on Aug. 25.
Journal entry

TV’s greatest guessing game

The fantasy saga “Game of Thrones,” defying the Emmy Awards’ grudging respect for genre fare, emerged as the leader in the nominations announced Thursday with 19 bids, including best drama series.

– News item

Watching “Game of Thrones” is a roller coaster ride. George R. R. Martin, who penned the books on which the HBO series is based, seems to delight in killing off beloved characters (Red Wedding, anyone?) and making viewers like me simultaneously cheer and curse characters whom I simultaneously love and hate (Jaime Lannister, anyone else?). Yet while I applaud and yell at my television, making me feel as though I’m more than a little crazy, I can’t stop watching. Why is that, exactly? In the face of the slaughter of so many great characters, what keeps me coming back?

I think I keep watching for the sheer heart of the little guy, the underdog. It’s rooting for “The Imp” Tyrion who has been the black mark on the Lannister name his whole life. It’s watching my favorite character, Jon Snow, the bastard son of a dead lord, come into his own and become a true man of the Night’s Watch. It’s watching young Arya Stark get vengeance on those who have wronged her family. It’s seeing Daenerys Targaryen make mistakes and suffer their consequences, even as queen.

I watch with bated breath to see who will die, what new character will be introduced, how I can be shocked next. I love that it’s a series viewers can’t predict. I love that it’s not a series that falls into the trap of keeping the main characters alive to keep the masses happy, because literally at any turn those characters could lose their heads – and some have.

I constantly bug my friend who has read the books to tell me what’s going to happen. I beg to know whether my beloved Jon Snow is going to make it to winter. She gleefully tells me to keep watching, and more insistently tells me to read the books. I’ll get around to it eventually, but it is the not knowing that keeps me enthralled.

The show and books have become massively popular in a short amount of time – and with good reason. It’s not just a series geared toward a male audience that’s all about medieval times and killing – though there is loads of killing (have I hammered that point home yet?) – it’s a show about family, loyalty, vengeance and rooting for the little guy, with a bit of love and lust added in. But on the flip side, it’s a show about betrayal, suffering, death, absolute agony and stunning defeat.

And I like the contrast. It keeps me panting for more. I rather like that I can so easily be shocked by the twists and turns. I like to think that there are other non-book-reading viewers who also enjoy the surprises. I tip my hat to the Emmy Awards for giving such a pervasive show the 19 nominations it deserves. It won’t surprise me if the show rightfully picks up a number of those awards.

Alicia Tharp is a copy editor for The Journal Gazette when she’s not watching “Game of Thrones.”