This year started quite right despite some rage-inducing hiccups. 2019 is bound to bring a lot of new things, a sequel to that damn Avengers movie where everyone dies, lots of new horror movies, and the promise of a new Rick and Morty season on the horizon. However, it also brought the beginning of the end for something big: Game of Thrones last season. Hard to fathom, isn’t it? What do you do once it ends? Well, there are always alternatives in the form of tv shows like Game of Thrones.
Sadly, some of them won’t be in the same caliber as Game of Thrones. After all, they are being compared against the most ambitious of fantasy tv shows-- nope, scratch that, among all tv shows. There certainly are very few shows like Game of Thrones. By that, we mean big budget dark medieval fantasy and it will be a while before something else *ahem* takes the throne. Still, that isn’t to say that you shouldn’t give tv shows like Game of Thrones a try, who knows, you might get hooked again.
You might notice that most of these shows are actually period dramas/epics but Game of Thrones is like a twisted version of world history anyway. That means these should come close in terms of atmosphere. Do stick around until the end for a potential throne-taker for TV fantasy series, courtesy of Netflix and Amazon.
Shady damsels in long dresses? Check. Swords? Check. Plots on top of plots in the throne room? Check. An unstable king? Check and check. You’ll find no shortage of political drama and intrigue in Tudors, all set in Europe in the Middle Ages during Henry VIII’s notorious reign. It’s not historically accurate though, but really, why would you even want that?
9. The Borgias
Incest? You bet. Turns out, the Borgias are the real world counterpart of the Lannisters and as you might have guessed, this is a historical period drama about them. If you ever found the Lannister twins’ incest plot wanting (for some reason) well, you’ll find no shortage of incest in Borgias, there’s also the occasional violence, murder, and court intrigue. Watch it if you’re curious, we incest-- insist. Sorry.
If plot betrayal is what you are after, then look no further than ancient/classical Rome. It is chock full of senators and statesmen who are all vying for power in the Roman “republic.” Spartacus just happens to be stuck in the bottom of it all in the receiving end, so he started a legendary slave rebellion which nearly brought Rome down on its knees. There’s no shortage of blood and battles here.
7. The Last Kingdom
Jon Snow’s wildling escapades in Game of Thrones probably cemented the series as one of the best fantasy tv shows. So if you wanted more of that, then The Last Kingdom has you covered (minus the nudity, it’s from BBC folks, sorry). It’s essentially about Uhtred, an orphan who must choose between helping the people who raised him or siding with his native Viking country which is on a raiding rampage. The guy also looks like he knows nothing.
The crusades are always an interesting time period in the history of Europe and the Middle East. Knightfall is about that with the protagonist being a member of the special faction of crusader knights called Templars (you might have heard of them). It’s a show that spares no expense with its knights and its castles so expect a lot of battles too.
Sometimes Game of Thrones has too much in-your-face nudity and this can distract from the artistic value of the show. Vikings does away with that and focuses on character development and of course, the exploits of Ragnar Lothbrok, a farmer who through violence and cunning, becomes the King of Denmark and terrorizes Europe with constant Viking raids.
4. The Bastard Executioner
By now, Game of Thrones fans should be rooting for the prettiest bastard ever (who turns out to not be a bastard at all). So if you are aching for more bastards, then The Bastard Executioner might be just the thing for you. Some elements of mysticism are also included in this but it’s mostly the gore and dark violence which makes this show worth comparing to Game of Thrones. Sadly, there is only one season.
3. The Terror
The Wall is certainly one of the most interesting elements of Game of Thrones and every breath a character takes there reeks of desperation and the bitter cold. The Terror also captures that air of hopelessness but among a ship’s crew during the colonial era instead of a fantasy world. You’ll also find some familiar faces in here from Game of Thrones.
2. Black Sails
Sex, violence, monarchy, and betrayal-- turns out pirates do have a lot in common with the people of Westeros. The difference is that they do it on ships and with gunpowder involved. Black Sails has those in spades and is also a big-budget production (thank you, Michael Bay). This is Treasure Island for adults and mature fantasy fans who crave for high production values, big battles, and softcore sex, it’s not TV! It’s HB-- Starz!
1. The White Queen & The White Princess
One of Game of Thrones’ primary inspiration was the War of the Roses, a series of English civil wars between two rival houses for the throne of England. The White Queen and its follow-up, the White Princess tackles just that exact historical event. If you ever wanted a Game of Thrones without White Walkers, zombies, or dragons, then you might want to take a look at its prime inspiration. Make sure to watch this before Tudors as this takes place before Henry VIII’s reign. Does anyone notice that both these shows scream Valar Morghulis?
Very Special Mentions:
Okay, so none of those above are really fantasy tv shows like Game of Thrones, but if you REALLY want something to replace that, then Netflix might have an answer. You see, Netflix wants its own “Game of Thrones” and is now tapping into the successful “Witcher” novel saga and video game franchise for that. Oh, did we also mention that Henry Cavill is going to play Geralt, the albino mutant monster-slayer as the main protagonist? Cavill also might have dropped his Superman role because of that too, according to speculation.
Watch out for it in 2020.
The Lord of the Rings
Amazon’s precioussss project which it luckily acquired. Like Netflix, they also plan on capitalizing on Game of Thrones’ ending with an actual Lord of the Rings TV series, now underway.
So it’s pretty much Netflix vs. Amazon in the near future. Hopefully, both of them get things right at the very least if they cannot overtake Game of Thrones in terms of sheer quality.
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