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What's better than Game of Thrones?

So there’s a big GOT hole in many people’s viewing schedule and we’re about to come up to summer where TV typically takes a break too. With that I was wondering if people would suggest shows that are close to equal or even greater than Game of Thrones that others should check out. Suggestions are welcome.

We already know about Breaking Bad & The Wire.

  1. Black Sails - pirate story that becomes something much more. Lots of high quality action, Toby Stephens is Charles Dance level of good acting, and the story will keep you guessing.

  2. Vikings - only for the first few seasons, but it’s Game of Thrones with a smaller cast and more grounded action.

  3. Spartacus - you either drop what you think this is, watch it for a few episodes and get why it’s truly great or you think it’s just a dumb soft porno show.

  4. Kingdom - it’s not as good as GOT, but the production is rich, the story moves well and it’s incredibly enjoyable. I think everyone would like it.

Suggestions welcome.

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The woefully cancelled KINGS on NBC.
A retelling of the story of King David but through the lens of political and social intrigue…and a whole lot of religious mysticism and supernatural elements seeded throughout. The cast is amazing. The production design and crew were stellar. The writing? Top notch. It’s a shame it was cancelled but the episodes that were made are must-see television. Perhaps one of the most under-appreciated early vanguards of prestige TV. But definitely worthwhile…and definitely better than Game of Thrones.

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Twin Peaks - Every episode directed by David Lynch plus all of season one. Season two gets very bad after Lynch & Mark Frost step away but ends strongly. Season 3 from 2017 is as good as TV gets and possibly Lynch’s masterpiece. America’s greatest living director doing his best work puts this at the top of the list. Episode 8 alone would do that too, as would the finale. It’s crazy and awesome this got released on a major cable network.

A lot of stuff brought back by nostalgia recently would’ve been better off left in the past but Twin Peaks deserved to be finished by its two creators. It also functions as a critique of nostalgia and the numbing comfort it can provide, while doubling as a showcase for Lynch’s unique spiritual vision.

The Sopranos - Twin Peaks isn’t for everyone. Sopranos should be. It’s the great American novel. I’ve never seen a show more effectively achieve the rhythm of ordinary life. For a show about mobsters, it’s often the personal drama that is the most weighty and gripping, and it’s all anchored by James Gandolfini giving probably the best performance ever, in film or TV. Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, and much of the rest of the cast are great too. And although it’s not a comedy it’s probably one of the funniest shows ever made. Possibly TV’s strongest ending too.

The Americans - Season one isn’t the greatest but each season is better than the last and the last two put it on the level of Sopranos and The Wire. Matthew Rhys’s facial expressions alone would carry the show, he’s an incredibly subtle and effective actor, but really all the elements of the show are great. Like Sopranos, the family drama is often heavier than the brutal spy work that draws you in. Really it’s a show about cycles of abuse and the abuser mindset, so every facet of the show has a psychological darkness to it that I found fascinating. Frank Langella, Margo Martindale, and Noah Emmerich are brilliant in supporting roles.

Sharp Objects - Even better than Big Little Lies. Amy Adams, maybe the greatest working actress today, plus Vallee’s Roeg-like editing and immersive visuals and soundscapes combine to make the show feel like a long, slow, inescapable nightmare. Not for everyone but I couldn’t get enough of it; at the same time, it works perfectly as an 8 episode miniseries.

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I’ll second the recommendation of twin peaks: the returnfrom Will (quite simply took tv to another level and one I doubt will ever be met again) and i’ll add

Ray Donovan

It’s not on the same complexity level as GoT or Breaking Bad for example, but in terms of characters it’s one of my favourite shows of all time and the show my wife and I look forward to watching the most, even more than GoT, Breaking Bad or the Sopranos.

It’s in my top 3 along with The Wire and Buffy, although Buffy is not as good a show as the others mentioned here. It’s just a favourite, and nostalgia is probably a factor there.

Also up there is

Gomorrah
an Italian organised crime series which is completely outstanding. Not many people watch it but everyone I have put onto it agrees it’s incredible.

Better Call Saul
deserves a mention. In terms of consistency it’s a better show, it’s of a constant high standard, where Breaking Bad was a bit patchy at times.

There’s a few other shows I’m tempted to mention here but I’m trying to keep the bar high.

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Ducktales (woo-oo).

No seriously, it’s really good. It subverts expectations, has a deep mythology and running mysteries and a lot of star power for a cartoon.

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There are only a couple of TV shows that I’ve watched in the past few years (I have tried many but usually lose interest), and I really recommend both.

The Terror is practically a must-see for anyone in this thread. Rich production design, many heavy themes, great acting. The horror bits don’t totally work for me but they work enough to do their job. There is a second season coming although it will not be directly related to the first, much like Fargo did.

The Young Pope was way better than it got credit for; I think it was too “artsy” for people at times, although it still did well enough for a second season. Sumptuous, surreal, and it also gave plenty to chew on. Jude Law is one of my favorite actors and this is his best role ever. One of the major delights of the show is trying to figure out where this guy is coming from at any given moment.

Those were my two favorite shows post-Mad Men.

I also think, if you haven’t seen it already, then you could do worse than just watch the first season of Halt and Catch Fire. The second season is OK and then it starts to nosedive after that, but the first season is pure gold.

Ditto for the third and fourth seasons of Channel Zero, which I think are short on top of it all.

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The Shield.

Very little filler, great performances throughout, and a real sense that anything could happen. Everyone was vulnerable.

It stuck the landing. The last thirty seconds of the last episode are perfection.

The Writers’ Guild strike hurt one of the seasons in terms of overall quality, (I forget offhand which one) but even that season was pretty solid.

Really great show.

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The writers strike only affected the final few episodes. Shawn Ryan wasn’t allowed to be on set, so Michael Chiklis was put in charge.

I’d say S2-3 were a step down, but everything from S4 on was great.

I saw a few of the shows I would put on this list already.

The Americans top to bottom one of the best shows, that builds upon itself every season and one of the few shows that stuck the landing pretty dang well.

The Magicians on SyFy, starts out as Harry Potter: the college years and turns into a great series with just about every main character fully 3 dimensional with their own motivations, story arcs and general agency. It can get frustrating when the characters are all split up and they’re following 5 threads at once, but overall very satisfying.

I don’t know if it’s better than GoT, but Colony it wrapped up after 3 seasons. An Alien Invasion show that’s based on the French occupation during WW2. I think it starts a bit slow, but once season 1 gets moving it really become engaging. The one flaw I’d say is that I found I was more interested in the ancillary characters at times than the main family.

Mr Robot another great show on USA? yeah, season 1 caught us by surprise, and after a bit of a rough patch on season 2 it’s great.

That’s all i got off the top of my head.

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I don’t have a tv and it’s not in my budget to get streaming services. But I still don’t feel like I’m missing a lot.

The Last Kingdom was also a surprisingly entertaining series with strong storylines and characters despite a bit of a low budget. I enjoyed it much more reliably than most Game of Thrones episodes.

Nothing is better than GoT, I mean in terms of production nothing compares, tbh. Black Sails might be close, and Vikings too, but they’re sort of behind by quite a bit.

The Expanse is probably the closest to GoT in terms of production and scope.

I’m on to Season 2 of the Americans and we are both enjoying it.

My other shout is BILLIONS. It’s the dialogue that makes it pop along with smart writing where characters mostly behave consistently and you don’t easily guess what’s coming. The cast are great.

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