Re: "The sex was almost uniformly gratuitous"
I'm a straight dude in my mid-30s and I have the same feeling as B.D. that a lot of the sex and violence on GoT was gratuitous. Granted I only watched intermittently, and can't think of specific examples. But it also seems pretty undeniable that HBO as a network has in the past generally leaned into the fact that it can show nudity/somewhat explicit sex/gory violence whereas cable shows cannot (dunno if that's still true).