Shannon Jirkovsky will spend Sunday night in a medieval dress drinking from a wine chalice and eating lemon cakes.
She’ll also be hanging out with her best friends from college — something they only get to do on holidays or special occasions.
And Sunday night is a very special occasion.
“Game of Thrones” returns for its seventh season at 9 p.m., and the series premiere will draw fans of the Lannisters and Starks together Sunday night.
The show, which premiered on HBO in 2011, is based on George R.R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels that tells the tale of the Iron Throne and the Seven Kingdoms trying to claim it.
And in South Jersey, residents are gaming up for the new season.
Jirkovsky, 23, of Toms River, and her college friends spend every season premiere in Hammonton at the home of their friend, A.C. Weekly graphic artist Rebecca King.
Jirkovsky’s lemon cakes will be made in honor of Sansa Stark’s favorite food. She’ll also be baking bread similar to that of Hot Pie. And as she and her friends get ready for the premiere, Jirkovsky is creating a trivia game for them to play leading up to the show.
Above all else, it’s a time for the friends to reunite for a few hours and get lost in Westeros. Jirkovsky and her friends began to watch the second season while in college and now they watch the show together every year.
“This is something we’re all so excited for, and for months we’ve been counting down to it,” Jirkovsky said. “It’s nice to have a reason for everyone to come together, and we all love it.”
Jirkovsky said the show lends itself to group viewings more than the typical binging that viewers tend to do with shows in 2017.
“Everyone has a person they’re rooting for and their own theories, so you get to talk to friends and hear different perspectives during the episode,” Jirkovsky said.
For Scott Fine, manager at Level Up Entertainment, the show provides him and his friends a chance to get a little competitive.
Fine, 31, of Mays Landing, and his friends hold an annual “Game of Thrones” fantasy draft in which they pick characters from the show, and, depending on each character’s actions in an episode, they earn the person who drafted them a certain number of points. At the end of the season, whoever has the most points wins bragging rights until the next season starts.
Bragging rights aside, Fine said he and his buddies get together to enjoy each other’s company as well as the show. The group usually has dinner and socializes before each viewing.
“The league lets us view the show in a competitive way so we can enjoy the show both for its own merits and how the characters contribute to our individual team’s score,” said Fine. “Plus, we might be more invested in a certain character’s story line that normally would bore us, but since they are on your team you have more of a reason to root for them.”
Fine said he enjoys the detail, the production value and the complex world history of the show.
“The anticipation of what’s going to happen next is probably the big one. Sex and violence doesn’t hurt either,” Fine said of the series’ appeal.
But when it comes down to it, it’s just a couple of guys getting to enjoy a TV show together.
“It’s good to have a few people around to help you remember the details of some of the complex story lines running through the show. I always believe that life is better when you can share it with others when you get a chance, regardless of what that activity is,” he said.