With the end of Game of Thrones, we have reached the end of an era in popular culture. The HBO behemoth was the last big watercooler show—the kind of series that takes over a Twitter timeline for hours (sometimes days) at a time, that seeps so fully into popular culture that it becomes inescapable.
Now that it’s over, we must shake the ashes from our hair and try to find some other show to consume our days and nights. If you are struggling to figure out what that show should be, have no fear! Here’s a handy guide to your next obsession.
If you liked Tyrion wandering around King’s Landing, looking for his family amidst a post-apocalyptic vibe…
A supernatural drama that aired on HBO from 2012 to 2017, The Leftovers takes place three years after the “Sudden Departure,” a mysterious event where 2 percent of the population has has vanished. Carrie Coon, Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, and more star in the this haunting and heartfelt drama. As a bonus, the show is over and the ending was well received by fans, making it a deeply satisfying binge.
If you liked early Game of Thrones, riddled with cursing, politicking, and brothels…
Set in the 1870s in the American West, Deadwood is often ranked as one of the best TV dramas of all time. Timothy Olyphant and McShane play real-life historical figures Seth Bullock and Al Swearengen, as Deadwood grows from a camp to a town. The major themes of the show have a lot in common with the early seasons of GoT: how civilizations are created, how order comes from chaos, some of the most creative swearing to ever grace the small screen, and, of course, brothels.
Hankering for all the elements of Game of Thrones but feeling ready to move on to a modern setting? Succession is the show for you. Filled with intrigue and backstabbing in a family fighting for modern equivalent of the Iron Throne—that is, control of a gigantic media conglomerate—Succession will scratch your itch for bad people behaving badly.
If you liked the magical and fantasy elements…
Imagine Hogwarts, but graduate school. Imagine magic, but it’s more like…chemistry? Based on the Lev Grossman books of the same name, The Magicians follows Quentin Coldwater, a student at Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy who discovers that not only is the world of his favorite childhood books real, but that it poses a serious and deadly threat to humanity. It’s another series with a controversial ending for fans, but one that plays with coming-of-age tropes and magic in a deeply satisfying way.
Mists of Avalon
Certainly not the best reviewed or most critically acclaimed epic fantasy adaptation to hit the small screen, Mists of Avalon still has so much in common with the high points of early Game of Thrones. Adapted from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s novel of the same name, Mists tells the story of King Arthur, with a focus of on the women who populated his story. His half sister Morgaine, played by a post-ER Julianna Margulies, is a priestess on the Isle of Avalon, ruled by the High Priestess of Avalon, played to absolute perfection by Anjelica Huston. Scheming for the throne, magic and—it must be said—a light touch of incest make this a fitting post-Game of Thrones watch.
Lord of the Rings
Is it obvious? Yes. Is it likely that a person who likes Game of Thrones already knows about Lord of the Rings, and has read the books and seen the films not once, but many times? Of course. Still, these movies are worth revisiting (again). If you liked the epic battle scenes in GoT, then boy are the battle in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Return of the King going to delight you. Not only do they hold up (the first movie came out almost twenty years ago!) but the battles are so well lit and choreographed they are a treat to watch after the eye-damaging darkness of Game of Thrones. Plus, if you liked the rather ham-handed reference to “A Song of Ice and Fire” in the GoT finale, you owe it to yourself to see the best version of that possible.
If you just cannot get enough of period garb but would prefer a female gaze and some seriously sensual sex scenes, then Outlander is the show for you. Like many of the fantasy shows on this list, it’s based on a book series—this time by Diana Gabaldon. Our protagonist Claire is an English time-traveling nurse who gets sent back to 18th-century Scotland. Though she is married in her time, the temptations of a seriously sexy Scotsman lead to some very steamy and tension-filled encounters, all while Claire tries to manage with less freedom than she is accustomed to. Get ready to fan yourself throughout this one, folks: It’s a scorcher.
If you liked that council meeting…
The West Wing
One of the classic primetime dramas of our era, Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing is sure to provide you with the fast-paced policy and banter you got a taste of as the GoT finale wound down. While the importance of brothels vs ships never comes up in The West Wing, this day-in-the-life look at the making of laws, the importance of government, and big questions about moral leadership is definitely of a piece with that final council scene. It has something else in common with Game of Thrones—namely that they are both fantasies.
Often called the anti-West Wing (which meant real-life politicos found it much more realistic), Veep follows the antics of Vice President Selina Meyer, played with a delicious, bitchy energy by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Chafing at being stuck in the thankless role of VP, Selina and her team attempt to raise her national profile so she can run for president, with a ton of mixed results. Selina and Cersei share a lot of the same traits—they’re both selfish and have a hell of a mean streak (though Selina doesn’t have a twin she’s in love with). The last season just wrapped last week, and many of its fans were pleased in the end, so go on and give it a shot.
If you just want one good self-contained story with a satisfying ending that doesn’t leave you asking 100 questions, like “Why did I have to learn so much about Dorne?” or “What was the point of Jon Snow’s whole background in the end?” or “Why were there two massively different religions that ultimately no one cared about?”
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s heartbreaking and caustic show is a stunning treatise on family, grief, and behaving badly. The first season followed the titular Fleabag (we never learn her real name), who seems to be behaving badly for the hell of it. Waller-Bridge slowly strips away the hard shell surrounding her, and gives us a short story of a woman in immense pain, and wraps the first season up so well that no one felt we needed a second.
But Waller-Bridge gets the last laugh again, giving us one last tantalizing look at this character, whose many fourth-wall-breaking asides are as emotional as they are funny. The second season ends so perfectly, and leaves the viewer so satisfied, that you’ll have no choice but to go back and start it again, if only to spend time with this woman a little longer.