"We used politics to justify its importance, then shaped our politics around it," says Willa Paskin, who -- with the hoopla over the final season dying down after two weeks -- tries to get to the bottom of why the HBO drama became a mass phenomenon in recent years. Paskin specifically wonders if the rise of Trump led to the intense interest in Game of Thrones -- even though the show was supposed to be escapist entertainment. "Like a Three-Eyed Raven Game of Thrones had one eye on the past, in that it was decked out in the respectable-making duds of prestige TV; one on the future, in that it jump-started a whole new way of relating to TV as a multimedia game experience and web-traffic jackpot; and one on the present, a labile text constantly being read into our political moment," she says. Game of Thrones’ big questions, she adds, "took on a whole new level of urgency as Donald Trump became president. The show’s concerns became preposterously relevant, as did its vision of a society riven by tribal affiliations and distrust. That its themes and predicaments, that the autocratic impulses it had not only chronicled but made appealing to so many viewers, were suddenly so relevant gave it a burst of dippy, prognosticating power. A show that had, during Barack Obama’s tenure, seemed a little out of step with the times suddenly knew exactly what time it was. Our desire to understand what had occurred in the real world—why? How?—was so great that we latched on to anything potentially instructive. If Game of Thrones knew we would get here, could its details, interpreted in the right way, tell us where we were going next? Season 6 of the series, the first to regularly top 25 million total viewers, ended just weeks before the Republican National Convention. It was also the season that finally outpaced (George R.R.) Martin’s source material. The series was off book and, so it seemed, was America. It was at this point that Game of Thrones and the Game of Thrones industrial-entertainment complex entered its maximalist phase, in which the show and the discourse around it became not only omnipresent and traffic-hoovering but increasingly impassioned and political. There remained different ways to engage with the show—as a puzzle, as a ripping yarn about character, as a political allegory—but the first and the third, in particular, ratcheted up in intensity. The speculation about what would happen next got more prolific, intricate, and scholarly, while thinking about the show’s political arrangements began to take on a different kind of vibration. Theorizing about how Game of Thrones might handle an existential threat like an approaching zombie horde stopped being just an intriguing thought experiment and took on a sort of hopeful shimmer. Might the series offer us a recommendation for (depending on your ideological orientation) stabilizing climate change or protecting our national borders?"