Watch the Throne

Why 'Game of Thrones' is ruling television right now

Cast of Game of Thrones speak at the HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' Panel during Comic-Con International 2012 at San Diego Convention Center on July 13, 2012 in San Diego, California. Credit: Albert L. Ortega/Getty

Civil war and uncivilized behavior: That's what to expect in the second season of Game of Thrones, which returns April 1st. "The world that you see in the first season gets dismantled," says actor Kit Harington. "All the characters that you know and love are very much out of their depth in Season Two. Everything goes to shit."

The first season climaxed with the shocking execution of Ned Stark [Sean Bean] after he misjudged the politics of royal succession, under­scoring that any character on the show can get the ax. Actors who still have a job include Harington, as Stark's bastard son, pledged to a military order in the North; Emil­ia Clarke, as the exiled princess Daenerys; Alfie Allen [Lily Allen's kid brother], as the heir to an island kingdom; and Lena Headey, as the incestuous Queen Cersei.

With its gripping political mach­inations, Game of Thrones feels as much like historical fiction as it does The Lord of the Rings. Or as Adam Scott's character put it on Parks and Recreation, "It's not just for fantasy enthusiasts! They're telling human stories — in a fantasy world."

Thrones also features more sex than Skinemax at 3 a.m. "The show resonates because it occupies the same human universe we do," says D.B. Weiss, who created the series with David Benioff. "And how can you make it feel real if the people in the story aren't obsessed with sex?"