‘Game of Thrones’ leads Emmy nods

LOS ANGELES – Emmy voters may need to steel themselves to sort through this year’s top nominees: a macabre, medieval-style tale; a meth kingpin and his violent downfall; a bleak mystery about detectives tracking a ritual killer, and a heartbreaking saga of the AIDS epidemic’s roots.

Small-screen fare has steadily been pushed into bolder, even brilliant territory by cable and, now, online offerings, and it’s enticing the TV academy to recognize programs that are more emotionally and dramatically complex – as well as sexually explicit and, for better or worse, much more violent.

In this widely proclaimed golden age of television-plus, the brutal fantasy saga “Game of Thrones,” based on the work of novelist George R.R. Martin, emerged Thursday as the leading nominee with 19 nods. Dramas “Breaking Bad” and “True Detective” and movie “The Normal Heart” are among the other front-runners.