Whether you’re a casual viewer or a die-hard fan, there’s probably little doubt that if you’re reading this article, you’ll be tuning in to watch the second episode of Season Six of Game of Thrones on Sunday. However, it is less certain whether fans of HBO’s incredibly popular show will be watching the newly debuted After the Thrones which will be released weekly, a day after each Game of Thrones episode. Hosted by television critic Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan, who is known for his podcasts, After the Thrones is set to recap recent events in the show in a “lively, humorous, and sophisticated way,” as well as to introduce those casual fans to the rich histories of Westeros, and the intricate theories that those devoted to the show’s lore have created. It’s a promising premise, but it falls flat in more ways than one.
After the Thrones is little more than an HBO approved Game of Thrones recap set in a visual medium. The hosts, who I personally found abrasive in their hammy, forced enthusiasm and not particularly knowledgeable, provided the same points one might have gained from discussing the show with your friends the night after you watched it (with the added benefit that your friends wouldn’t be forcing bad puns down your throat every other sentence). Because the show is sponsored by HBO, it offers an entirely positive spin on the show, which can grow tiring. The benefit of this, however, is that it does ensure there won’t be any spoilers, which I’m sure many appreciate. Overall, the fact that the show is painfully enthusiastic, and focused far more on blind praise, than actual analysis makes it tiring for anyone who is interested in engaging with the show, rather than simply consuming it.
If you’re someone who has read the A Song of Ice and Fire books or even spent a great deal of time learning and thinking about Westeros in relation to the show, you will probably be bored by After the Thrones. The show is definitely appealing more to the demographic of fans who can barely remember characters’ namees, rather than fans who can recite the Targaryen family history off the cuff. This is painfully obvious in segments such as “Who The Fuck Was That?” in which they humorously appeal to the fact that many casual fans can’t keep characters in the show straight. Speaking of segments, I was disheartened by the low budget of the show, and slightly surprised by sloppy mistakes, such as when a character map had a picture of a cosplayer, rather than the actual character they intended to show. After the Thrones offers viewers a watered down perspective of Westeros packed with too many corny jokes in an attempt to keep people’s interest.
So will I be watching After the Thrones next Monday? Personally, I will not. If you’re an extremely casual viewer, who enjoys incredibly bad jokes, perhaps this might be something you will enjoy, but for most, all of the content that After the Thrones has to offer can be gained by simply watching the show, and perhaps brushing up on some basic facts about Westeros, either by reading the original novels or a wiki article. I understand that HBO is trying to appeal to the wide range of audiences that watch Game of Thrones, but I doubt anyone will enjoy After the Thrones. People can tell when they are being talked down to, and rarely enjoy it. If After the Thrones introduces a slightly more mature tone and focuses on analysis, rather than merely summarizing events in the show, I think it could be a successful idea. For now, however, it is a disappointment.
Here is a snippet if you haven’t caught this show yet.