Ushering in the Age of Fantasy: What to Watch After Game of Thrones
Despite its atrocious ending and all the controversy that surrounded the series finale, Game of Thrones (GOT) was a monumental body of work that proved it was possible to adapt and execute a quality fantasy series good enough to satisfy its fans (at least, for the first seven seasons). Say what you will about the finale, but GOT did accomplish one thing in the end: it made fantasy fans out of us all, creating a demand for the next big series to take its place on the audience’s watch list. The production companies heeded their call, and now we have a number of fantasy shows slated to be released in the next two years.
How they’ll measure up against GOT is up in the air, but here’s to hoping.
1| The Witcher
Based on the series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher was adapted into a wildly popular video game that has a solid international fan base. The Witcher is more in line with Lord of the Rings than GOT. The world is full of magic and monsters, and is based heavily on Polish, Nordic, and other European mythology. While there is politics in the plot, it’s hardly GOT level. But if it’s anything like the original material, there will be sex and violence aplenty. What really has fans pumped is that Henry Cavill of Superman fame has been cast as antihero protagonist Geralt of Rivia. Fans have noticed how much of a fellow fan/nerd Cavill appears to be, which may mean that the popular story is in good hands.
Release: Late 2019 on Netflix
2| His Dark Materials
This epic trilogy by Philip Pullman was not given justice when it was adapted into the 2007 film The Golden Compass. To be blunt, the 2007 film was a disaster that failed to translate the deeper symbolism and fantastic world-building that the trilogy had to offer. BBC and HBO appear to be on a mission to rectify the mistakes of the last adaptation as they’re set to release BBC’s biggest budget series to date: His Dark Materials. The story in itself is an overarching commentary on Christianity, told through the eyes of children as they explore multiverses with their daemons (animal companions), which are physical manifestation of their souls.
Release: Late 2019 on HBO and BBC
3| Carnival Row
A neo-noir, steampunk fantasy series, Carnival Row is taking a contemporary approach to fantasy. Set in an industrialized society reminiscent of Victorian Era England, Carnival Row will center around the story of two lovers (played by Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevigne) as the world around them continues to grow less tolerant of different species. It’s hard not to notice the political undertones in this fantasy series: immigrants, genocide, discrimination, and war-torn nations—it may very well be a mirror of current events, only with the addition of fairy wings and a lot of CGI.
Release: Late 2019 on Amazon Prime
4| The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
The only non live-action series on the list, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance might also be the darkest in tone. The series is a prequel to the 1982 cult classic The Dark Crystal that explores the world the film created. The trailer definitely gives off Star Wars vibes as a crew of Gelflings launch a rebellion to save the world against the tyranny of the Skeksis. The show’s roster of voice actors includes Taron Egerton, Nathalie Emmanuel, Helena Bonham-Carter, Awkwafina, and Lena Headey.
Release: August 30, 2019 on Netflix
The legend of King Arthur has been told again and again, but each retelling never gets old. Netflix’s version of the epic legend takes the perspective of one character who never got enough screen time in past adaptations: the Lady of the Lake. Cursed will follow the tragic story of Nimue, destined to be the ephemeral Lady of the Lake, as she, Arthur, and Merlin ignite a rebellion against Kung Uther. The series will tackle themes that are closer to home than we think: senseless war, destruction of nature, and finding courage in the face of tyranny.
Release: 2020 on Netflix