Beyond the Canvas: Finding Joy
6 fantasy shows to binge-watch now that ‘Game of Thrones’ is over
This year marked the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones,” and whether you’ll miss it for the dragons and sword fights, soap operatic storytelling, or the complexity of its world-building, our time with Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow and the rest of Westeros has come to an end.
Hollywood Reporter TV critic Tim Goodman says it’s one of the rare times he plans to re-watch every episode for a show, and he’s not entirely distraught because there may be prequels or spin-offs.
That said, now that “Game of Thrones” is over, there is a large vacuum to fill. Here are six fantasy (or fantasy-esque) shows Goodman recommends to fill the void. Some are oldies but goodies, others more unknown. In his words:
1. “The Man In the High Castle” (Amazon)
Based on the Philip K. Dick story of alternative historical fiction (that the U.S. lost World War II and is now divided up by Germany and Japan), it’s a sprawling story that’s unlike anything else on TV. Season one is compelling for its uniqueness, season two drags a bit and the recently completed third season is the best of the bunch as it truly comes together (and is metaphorically more relevant to our times). It’s Amazon’s most popular series, by the way.
2. “The Magicians” (Netflix/Syfy)
You can find back seasons on Netflix and see the current one on Syfy. And yes, it’s about magic but rather than traditional magicians so you can move past that sticking point. It’s like a more grown up Harry Potter but also entirely its own thing, which fans will tell you blossoms considerably from the first season to its current third season. Those who stayed got hooked and it’s arguably Syfy’s best series.
3. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (Hulu)
The only people who need to be sold on this series are those who never watched it or those who were turned off by the name. Move past that now and catch up on a great metaphor for troubled teenage angst, excellent writing from Joss Whedon and, through that, some hilarious pop culture riffing. It’s also touching, thrilling and compelling beyond the humor you’ll find.
4. “Outlander” (Starz)
Based on the bestselling books by Diana Gabaldon, this romance-meets-time-travel-meets-historical-fiction series isn’t for everyone. But there was enough gravitas and action early on to disabuse people this was a bodice-ripper brought to premium cable. Since then, its fans remain feverish and diverse.
5. “Black Mirror” (Netflix)
This is an anthology and thus it’s all over the map on what you’ll get — but so much of it is brilliant and creative and both superbly well-written and acted in most variations. Forget the new “Twilight Zone” reboot (which is bad) and go for this more modernized dangers-of-technology visionary thrill ride. Two pieces of advice: Don’t start with episode one, season one — come back to that later (it’s great, but stopped a lot of new viewers in their tracks), and don’t try the “Bandersnatch” standalone choose-your-ending movie (above) until you’re deeper into the vibe of the show. But this is a can’t-miss series.
6. Lost (Hulu)
(Note: In the absence of an official trailer, this is a fan-made trailer)
This is arguably the last of the truly epic and ambitious network series (it aired on ABC), fusing fantasy, twisted science and … well, who the hell knows … into an especially intriguing (but yes, often maddening) multi-season, twisty, mysterious look at what happens to a group of travelers who survive a plane crash. It uses a unique flash-back and eventual flash-forward storytelling conceit, and the writing and casting are spot on, creating an addictive story that you can now binge.