HBO announced on April 4 that it will begin to air a weekly after show starting this month titled After the Thrones as a companion to its hit drama series Game of Thrones, and it will be hosted by Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan. Game of Thrones is already in its sixth season so it is actually a wonder if the recap show is really a necessary addition or HBO's wellspring of ideas has run dry.
Both Greenwald and Ryan have hosted their own recap podcast titled Watch the Thrones so they are not new to it but to have them both come on board officially for the series, in the same format as AMC's The Talking Dead simply makes us question why creating the after show is necessary in the first place?
There are tens and hundreds of new, interesting and imaginative stories that HBO can invest on but it chose to host an after show dedicated to a drama already in its sixth season. The move may be interpreted as either desperation or a preemptive strike against fans and critics who may criticize whatever the production has cooked up in season six, but under the guise of two helpful, no-nonsense guides who can get people to hold off on their less-than-happy reactions.
Why Would After the Thrones Be A Desperate Move?
Simply put, it is already late in the game and trying to explain the basics — the characters, politics, etc. — is a lot like going back to pre-school. There is much to be discussed from the previous five seasons so we can expect that there will also be a lot of shortcuts. But more than that, it is a call for attention, a "Hey, everyone! Talk about Game of Thrones more!" kind of show that will most likely provide viewers with theories to last the week until the next episode is aired - rinse and repeat.
Is After the Thrones As A Preemptive Strike?
Remember that time Sansa Stark married Ramsay Bolton and she was raped on the wedding night? That scene along received a lot of criticism and the Game of Thrones writers and showrunners were scrambling to respond to scathing criticism and explain why the scene — and change in the Sansa's story arc — were necessary.
Now the drama will have two veteran critics who can give plausible theories for production decisions and those involved could possibly be saved from backlash. As Cersei Lannister told Ned Stark in season one: "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."
But HBO may have just found its middle ground as it attempts to win against criticism and fan hate.
The Question Still Remains: Is It Really Necessary?
"[After the Thrones will] recap the latest episode, explaining the who, what, when and where, exploring the complicated politics and history of 'Thrones,' and offering absurd and not-so-absurd theories about future episodes," the official announcement reads.
HBO's intention seems noble since it plans to have two knowledgeable people dissect each episode and try to break it down both for the more casual watchers to understand and for avid fans to expand their knowledge and start a discussion.
But let us be honest: with or without After the Thrones, fans already have their own discussion about the series so what exactly is HBO trying to achieve with this? Was the after show conceptualized because season six is the first season in the series that is not based off George R.R. Martin's books and it needed a way to explain to fans what is going on in the series now? Then again, even when the series heavily relied on Martin's published books, some storylines have already diverted from the books and some characters were altered.
Is it so HBO can officially gain financially from Greenwald and Ryan's Game of Thrones related activities since Grantland died? That actually sounds plausible. But will it actually allow the two seasoned writers and editors to criticize its drama enough to actually present a good reason for the show's existence?
We will have to wait and see when After the Thrones airs beginning April 25.