In the past, Game of Thrones has been widely regarded as the best show on television. Airing on HBO affords it an amount of creative license that network TV simply hasn’t been able to compete with in recent years. Lax content restrictions on premium cable have given the show the ability to feature all manner of nudity, swearing, and violence. The result is a series operating with a tool-belt basic cable competitors haven’t been able to match. In just the last year though, a collection of shows have stepped up to challenge Game of Thrones.
This is a collection of television that deals primarily in long-form drama. Some have a story driven by shared elements with Game of Thrones. Others choose to head in a different direction altogether. What they all prove is that you don’t have to be a premium cable series in order to succeed in the realm of sci-fi and fantasy. If you find yourself tiring of George R.R. Martin’s glacial pace, these alternatives might just sate your appetite.
1. Sleepy Hollow, FOX
While Sleepy Hollow has seen a decline in recent episodes, there’s no denying that its first season was pure fantasy magic. It’s the first fresh retelling of the Headless Horseman story we’ve seen…well, ever, anchored by a spectacular performance by Tom Mison as the time-traveling Ichabod Crane. It’s since descended into a monster-of-the-week procedural that’s left it unfocused and at times hard to watch, but Season 1 is where the real gold can be found anyway.