TV aftershows have been a somewhat surprisingly successful element in prestige cable TV in recent years. For example, The Talking Dead and Talking Bad, both hosted by Chris Hardwick, have been a crucial part of AMC’s presentation of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, respectively.
HBO is now trying something similar with the upcoming Game of Thrones season 6 – with a little help from incoming HBO talk show host, Bill Simmons.
HBO announced Monday that it will debut After the Thrones, a new weekly show about Game of Thrones that will air each Monday on the HBO Now and HBO GO streaming service – with airings to come on HBO proper and on-demand channels as well. The show will be hosted by Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan, both writers on TV for The Ringer, the forthcoming website to be launched by Simmons. The release dubs After the Thrones as “the first show to spring from HBO’s new partnership with Bill Simmons.”
The Ringer is the successor to Grantland, the ESPN-affiliated site formerly run by Simmons. That site covered Game of Thrones extensively, via a (very good) weekly podcast called “Watch the Thrones”, hosted by Greenwald and Ryan. Another former Grantland writer, Jason Concepcion, used to write one of the Internet’s most extensive and must-read Game of Thrones column, called Ask the Maester. While he’s not specifically mentioned in the press release as participating in the show, Concepcion has signed on as a writer for The Ringer and has been contributing Thrones pieces to the site’s newsletter. Mallory Rubin, another mainstay of Grantland’s Thrones coverage, is on the Ringer staff too.
This is welcome news. Whatever you thought of Grantland, its Game of Thrones content was always first-rate. Whether it was in article or podcast form, the site always came at the material with knowledge and good humor – and it wasn’t the type of stuff that’s likely to be toned down now that it’s formally in the HBO tent. Greenwald and Ryan were also pretty skilled at bridging the book reader/non-book reader divide among fans, although that’s sort of moot at this point.
Any reason for doubt? Well, aftershows hosted by anyone other than Chris Hardwick have had mixed success over the years. Anyone remember the Sons of Anarchy postmortems with creator Kurt Sutter himself, which seemed to go on forever during that show’s final season? And also, unlike the AMC aftershows, ‘Thrones’ will air on Monday, a full day after the show itself airs. Game of Thrones episodes are dense and take a lot of time to digest, but that’s a long time to wait.
Game of Thrones season 6 will premiere on HBO on April 24th, 2016. After the Thrones will air every Monday on HBO Now, HBO GO, and HBO On-Demand, beginning April 25.