Game of Thrones fans are going to have a Westeros-shaped hole in their hearts (and TV-watching schedules) come Sunday when the hit HBO show and worldwide cultural phenomenon finally comes to an end. In fact, many HBO subscribers have taken to social media to voice that they’ll be unsubscribing from the movie and TV streaming giant after Sunday’s Game of Thrones series finale. But we’ve got 10 great reasons not to immediately cancel your HBO Now subscription, whether you want to continue the Game of Thrones vibes or find something completely new.
1. Game of Thrones: The Last Watch
Game of Thrones superfans won’t have to wait long after the series finale to get their Song of Ice and Fire fix—in fact, they’ll have to wait just one more week, when HBO airs a special behind-the-scenes look at the final season of the show. The two-hour documentary, directed by Jeanie Finlay, will highlight the sacrifice and hard work of everyone involved in creating arguably the world’s biggest show, from visual effects artists to fight choreographers to the showrunners themselves, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The trailer teases a teary Kit Harington (aka Jon Snow) at a final episode table read, so regardless of how the series ends, this insightful doc is sure to offer an emotional farewell to the characters we’ve loved, lamented and lambasted over the past eight years. The Last Watch premieres in Game of Thrones’ regular time slot on Sunday, May 26.
2. Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen (and The Leftovers)
Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof returns for his second HBO show following the critically acclaimed and cult-followed The Leftovers. This time, instead of adapting a novel to the small screen, he’s “adapting” a graphic novel: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, arguably the holy grail of comics. But unlike director Zack Snyder’s big-budget 2009 movie adaptation of the same name, which received divisive reactions from both fans and non-fans of the source material, Lindelof’s show aims to do something different. “This story will be set in the world its creators painstakingly built,” Lindelof wrote in a lengthy Instagram post almost exactly one year ago. “But in the tradition of the work that inspired it, this new story must be original.” Right now, all we have are Lindelof’s words and a minute-long teaser to pore over, but it seems like a more-than-worthy successor to Game of Thrones with its dense mythology and nerdy target audience. There’s no premiere date set for the Regina King– and Jeremy Irons–starring show except “fall 2019,” so while you’re waiting, we highly recommend bingeing all three superb seasons of The Leftovers—or, actually, on second thought, pace yourself. It gets dark.
Looking to stray from all that violence after eight years of medieval bloodshed and zombie killing? Can’t say we blame you — but you don’t have to leave HBO to find something a little lighter. Enter: Insecure starring Issa Rae (Awkward Black Girl), a hilarious, touching and sexy (it is HBO, after all) 30-minute dramedy entering its fourth season sometime next year. Likely picked up in small part to replace the void that Girls left in HBO’s schedule, Insecure shouldn’t be compared to Lena Dunham’s six-season NY-centric show at all. It’s an entirely original, unpretentious and genuinely heartfelt series all its own, with a predominantly black cast and crew to boot. You’ll be rooting and cringing for Issa within the same minute while also getting swept up in all the romance and drama. So what are you waiting for? The first three seasons are binge-ready on HBO to whet your appetitie for season four in 2020.
4. Deadwood: The Movie
Ever hear of a little show called Deadwood? If you haven’t, don’t feel bad; David Milch’s Western premiered 15 years ago. That’s older than some Game of Thrones fans who secretly watch behind their parents’ backs. After three seasons, Deadwood was canceled in 2006, much to the chagrin of its dedicated fanbase, despite winning several Emmys, a Golden Globe and a Peabody. Its abrupt ending has had fans clamoring for more even 13 years later, so much so that HBO finally caved and greenlit a feature film that will serve as a two-hour coda to the original series. Its entire core cast, including Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant, has returned for the movie, which premieres Friday, May 31. That still leaves plenty of time to rewatch or first-time binge its existing 36 episodes, which still hold up today.
Mass death toll. Inadequate leadership. A country at war. Unfortunately, no, this isn’t fiction, but it does make for compelling and educational television. HBO’s five-part miniseries Chernobyl delves deep into the disastrous nuclear radiation accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Pripyat, Ukrainian SSR, the most devastating nuclear power plant accident in history. Incredible performances by Jared Harris (Mad Men) as Valery Legasov, the Soviet Union nuclear physicist who headed up the disaster investigation, and Stellan Skarsgård as Boris Shcherbina, a Soviet politician who attempted to manage the crisis, ground the show, which doesn’t hold back in showing the pain suffered as a result of the disaster. Stream the first two episodes and watch the final three live every Monday night starting May 20.
6. The final season of The Deuce
Following the acclaim of shows The Wire and Show Me a Hero, HBO has continued its partnership with co-creators David Simon and George Pelecanos for The Deuce. Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in and is a producer on the show, initially set in 1970s New York during the porn renaissance and also starring James Franco in dual roles as twins Frankie and Vincent Martino. Pimps, prostitutes and seedy characters abound, but for a show about the grittiness of the New York of yore, it sure is stylish. The first two seasons, set in the early and late ’70s, respectively, can be streamed now on HBO in full, while its third and final season, which jumps forward in time to the ’80s, is expected to air later this year.
7. Random Acts of Flyness
It’s hard to know how to begin describing this sleeper series. Part sketch comedy, part political satire and part absurdist drama, you’d be surprised it’s an HBO show and not a late-night Adult Swim segment if it weren’t for its intelligent thoughts about race and moments of pure poetry among the absurdity. Written by, directed by, executive produced by and starring Terence Nance (Space Jam 2), Random Acts of Flyness will evoke a different reaction from every person who watches it—and watch it you should. It’s a testament to HBO’s willingness to support rising artists and take risks with its programming, not to mention it features surprise cameos from Whoopi Goldberg, Gillian Jacobs, Jon Hamm and others. The series was renewed for a second season shortly after its first premiered, all six episodes of which are available to stream now.
8. Big Little Lies
Last year’s breakout, award-winning “limited” series Big Little Lies, based on Liane Moriarty’s novel of the same name, brought together an all-star cast, including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, Adam Scott, and Alexander Skarsgård, for a Monterey murder mystery as dark as it was beautiful. Despite ending on a pitch-perfect note, HBO decided to bring the show back for one more season due to the overwhelmingly positive audience reception (and, no doubt, the opportunity to rake in even more awards). But with the addition of queen Meryl Streep to the entire returning cast, our excitement has well outweighed our skepticism. See what befalls the Monterey Five when Big Little Lies returns Sunday, June 9.
Breaking Bad meets Dexter in this killer dramedy starring Bill Hader. Hader plays the titular role of Barry, a serial killer turned actor whose competing interests keep landing him in hot water with gangsters and improv class teachers alike. Just when you think you can finally catch your breath, Barry’s world is torn back asunder to hilarious and dramatic effect. You’ll often find yourself laughing and gasping in the same scene, thanks in large part to Hader’s career-best performance. And how could we forget the inimitable Henry Winkler as Gene Cousineau, Barry’s over-the-top improv coach and mentor? This season’s fifth episode, “ronny/lily,” is one of 2019’s strongest episodes and has to be seen to be believed, and it got us excited to see how Barry’s sophomore season will wrap up right after Game of Thrones this Sunday.
10. A bunch of new movies!
Without its brand-new movie releases, HBO literally wouldn’t be the Home Box Office, so you can look forward to catching up on some of last year’s biggest hits from the comfort of your own couch starting this June. Trust no one in the bloody, stylish, Tarantino-esque thriller Bad Times at the El Royale June 1; fall for star-kissed lovers Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in the Oscar-nominated A Star Is Born June 8; witness the tragic but empowering story of The Hate U Give, based on the best-selling YA book, June 15; and rush to find The Death Cure in the final installment of the Maze Runner franchise June 21. If that’s enough for ya, action fans can look forward to Robin Hood, while comedy fans can make some popcorn and settle in for a Game Night. Discovering one new great movie is cheaper than a theater ticket and worth the price of an HBO subscription alone.