Now that HBO (and TV’s) biggest show Game of Thrones has ended (amid a storm of fan backlash, we might add) many subscriptions to the esteemed cable channel are assumed to start dropping like flies.
HBO’s solution? Invest in as much premium content as possible.
It started earlier this year with smash-hit miniseries Chernobyl, which quickly became the highest rated TV show of all time on IMDb. Harrowing but superbly made, it was so successful the Ukraine government have named the titular disaster site an official tourist attraction in the wake of its release.
And the hits keep coming as HBO unveiled three phenomenal trailers for upcoming series this month at San Diego Comic Con.
Leading the pack is Watchmen, Damon Lindelof’s sequel to the greatest graphic novel of all time (and the cult-hit Zack Snyder movie) – an alternate-history dystopia and deconstruction of the superhero genre following several retired vigilantes. The trailer for this new series features grand conspiracies, Rorschach cults, a flame-throwing hovercraft, masked police, Dr Manhattan on Mars, and Jeremy Irons as an older Ozymandias.
Next, HBO has teamed up with the BBC for an adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. The first 8-episode season will adapt book one, Northern Lights, about a girl’s quest North to uncover a conspiracy of child-snatching, in a world where people’s souls walk alongside them as dæmons.
After the failed 2007 movie adaptation The Golden Compass was watered-down by the Catholic Church, let’s hope this second attempt has more teeth – the story’s philosophical, heretical depths are perfect for HBO’s risqué image.
Bolstered by an incredible cast including James McAvoy, (Split) Ruth Wilson, (Luther) Lin Manuel Miranda, (Hamilton) and Dafne Keen (Logan), this should be excellent.
Finally, the return of Westworld promises Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul as a future cop, Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores in the real world, Thandie Newton’s Maeve fighting Nazis in World War Two, and Jeffrey Wright’s Bernard sporting an impressive hobo beard. The mystery around what’s happened to Tessa Thompson’s Charlotte Hale – or even who she is – is particularly enticing.
After Season two’s knot of timelines alienated viewers, Westworld’s showrunners have promised a more straightforward third season. You won’t need a map to navigate the plot this time; just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Between this slew of excellent trailers and Chernobyl’s huge success (19 Emmy nominations!), even HBO’s smaller shows continue to hold our attention.
Zendaya’s brutally honest teen drama Euphoria plays like an X-rated Skins and continues to push censorship boundaries: Featuring transgender representation, underage sex, drug overdoses and statutory rape, it’s easy to see why the show keeps grabbing headlines – see the Hollywood Reporter’s infamous article about a scene featuring “30 penises” at once.
Meanwhile, Barry, Bill Hader’s cult hit black comedy about his titular hitman, has received 17 Emmy nominations for its second season – two for Hader’s writing and directing. As both Hader and Zendaya’s careers climb to new heights (Zendaya starring as MJ in the billion-dollar shoe-in Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Hader as an adult Ritchie Tozier in the upcoming It: Chapter Two) their TV passion projects will surely benefit.
As the war with Netflix heats up and Disney prepares to enter the streaming arena with Disney+ later this year (announcing 5 MCU-related series themselves at SDCC), HBO and their new parent company WarnerMedia are pulling out all the stops – including new streaming service HBO Max.
As golden child Game of Thrones bows out with a record number of Emmy nominations, the future looks bright for the Home Box Office.
Featured image courtesy of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) via IMDb.
Trailers from HBO via YouTube.
Image use license here.