Watching Game of Thrones

How audiences engage with dark television

By Martin Barker, Clarissa Smith and Feona Attwood

Watching <i>Game of Thrones</i>


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5217-6
  • Pages: 208
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: March 2021
  • BIC Category: Television, PERFORMING ARTS / Television / History & Criticism, PERFORMING ARTS / Television / Genres / Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror, PERFORMING ARTS / Television / Genres / Drama, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, Radio & Television Industry, Television Studies, The arts / Television


Game of Thrones was an international sensation, and has been looked at from many different angles. But to date there has been little research into its audiences: who they were, how they engaged with and responded to it. This book presents the findings of a major international research project that garnered more than 10,000 responses to an innovative 'qualiquantitative' questionnaire. Among its findings are: a new way of understanding the place and role of favourite characters in audiences' responses; new insights into the role of fantasy in encouraging thinking about our own world; and an account of two combined emotions - relish and anguish - which structure audiences' reactions to controversial elements in the series.


1 The remarkable phenomenon that is Game of Thrones
2 Generating a 'richly structured combination of data and discourses'
3 Distinguishing different kinds of audience
4 Favourite characters, favourite survivors
5 The significance of favourite character choices
6 Winter is coming.
7 Conflicts and controversies
8 Making predictions for an unpredictable world
Postscript: 'If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention'


Martin Barker is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University and Visiting Professor at UWE Bristol

Clarissa Smith is Professor in the Department of Arts at Northumbria University

Feona Attwood is an editor of the journals Sexualities and Porn Studies

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