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'Game of Thrones' is most-watched HBO show of all time. But what does that say about HBO?

Published: Tuesday, June 10 2014 9:00 a.m. MDT

In this publicity image released by HBO, Sean Bean portrays Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark in a scene from the HBO series "Game of Thrones," premiering Sunday, April 17, 2011. This week it was announced that 'Game of Thrones' is the most watched HBO show of all time. But does that just re-affirm suspicions that HBO is all about crime, sex and violence?

Nick Briggs, Associated Press

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Tell “The Sopranos” that “Game of Thrones” sends it regards.

The hit HBO show — filled with sexuality, violence, promiscuity and bloodshed — has recently taken over “The Sopranos” as the top-watched show of all-time on the HBO network, Time magazine reported.

“With an average gross audience of 18.4 million viewers, the realm of Westeros has ruthlessly slain the suburban New Jersey gangland world of ‘The Sopranos,’ which previously held the record with an average gross audience of 18.2 million in its peak 2002 season,” Time reported.

But what does that say about HBO and TV culture?

Since its transition to television, and since it’s been making waves across media outlets and Internet realms, “Game of Thrones” has been hounded for its gore and glamorization of violence, sex and vices.

And it’s not like other HBO shows — like “The Sopranos” or “Sex in the City” — were free from those issues either. Even HBO’s new comedy show “Silicon Valley” has been criticized for its crude humor.

Back on April 11, around the time of the start of the show’s fourth season, Robert Tracinski of The Federalist wrote about the obsession the United States has with the show. It isn’t necessarily a realistic show, Tracinski wrote, and it gives viewers a chance to cheer for sociopaths and unhealthy people.

“It’s as if our highbrow culture is trying to cultivate in us the esthetic taste of a sociopath,” Tracinski wrote. “The question isn’t whether there is talent behind these shows, but why that talent is employed on such a brutal, bloodthirsty subject matter. Is there nothing else in the world interesting enough to make a television show about?”

The show is also a grim portrait of our world, wrote Matt Lewis of The Daily Caller back on May 5. Lewis explained that even though the show is praised by liberals, it actually depicts a world that is not liberal by any means.

And he wonders why positive shows — ones where things aren’t so morally dark — don’t get accepted by HBO.

“On the negative side, one does wonder about devoting so much screen time to things which, to put it mildly, aren’t terribly edifying,” Lewis wrote. “Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable … doesn’t get green-lighted by HBO!”

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com

Twitter: @herbscribner

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