Following the announcement that HBO is developing four separate Game Of Thrones spin-offs, The A.V. Club asked itself: What’s a Game Of Thrones spin-off you’d actually watch?
This is an idea that I had while I was reviewing Game Of Thrones for The A.V. Club, when I was foolish enough to think that House Lannister was going to make it through season four relatively intact. Then The Purple Wedding happened. But I think the idea still stands, and The Purple Wedding would be a great season finale event for it: A Dynasty-style soap set within House Lannister. In order to get the maximum storytelling potential, however, we’d need to set things a little bit earlier, shortly after the fall of House Targaryen, meaning the main Lannisters would still be teenagers, meaning it’s got a little bit of The O.C., Gossip Girl, and Beverly Hills 90210 in its DNA. Let’s keep things Newport with the analogues for our leads: Jaime and Tyrion are your mismatched Ryan-Seth pairing, with Cersei as the troubled Marissa Cooper type. It’d be all the palace intrigue, sniping, sneaking around, and drinking of original-formula Game Of Thrones, but here, that stuff is the entire point of the show! And yeah, there’s still potential for big, bloody battles, because if we’re following the template of primetime soaps from the past, there’s always room for a good wedding-day ambush.
After leaving an adventurous past behind for the calm life of baking at a wayside inn, Hot Pie’s direwolf bread and cherry pie have given him a Mary Berry-like reputation in the Riverlands. Attracting the attention of Westerosis’ burgeoning love affair with cooking, Hot Pie becomes a minor celebrity, and the Inn Of The Kneeling Man becomes the venue for a cooking show where Hot Pie judges wannabe inn cooks on their breads, kidney pies, and fruit confections. The Great Hot Pie Baking Show is a hit thanks to Hot Pie’s emphasis on quality ingredients and his tendency to speak in food metaphors. A year after its premiere, Hot Pie’s line “a face like a half-burnt ham” has become a colloquial expression, with “half-burnt ham” an insult for someone who’s face looks particularly rough or pot-marked.
The MVP of the final episodes of this past season of Game Of Thrones was the indomitable personality of Lyanna Mormont, affectionately known around The A.V. Club offices as Tiny Mormont. The diminutive but fiery leader of House Mormont and its equally minuscule domain of Bear Island would make for a wonderful political thriller. At its center would be Lyanna (still played by Bella Ramsey, whose real name sounds like it would be right at home on Game Of Thrones anyway), coming of age as she navigates the treacherous world of political wheeling and dealing. The show would have an element of young-adult melodrama in the vein of The CW’s Reign, but keep the R-rated violence and intensity of its progenitor. After all, part of Lyanna’s charm is her ability to tell it like it is among a bunch of expletive- and weapons-wielding men who lack even half of her courage and fortitude. Here she’ll stand, kicking ass—she can do no other.
I know a lot of people would prefer not to revisit Dorne, but after the Sand Snake coup, I would love to watch a bunch of women rule their kingdom after disposing of all the male leadership. (Maybe other, real-life things are informing my opinion here, too.) The case has already been made for Cersei and Daenerys’ leadership, but I’ve always been very sympathetic of the Snakes’ quest for vengeance for the murder of their father, Oberyn, who was himself consumed with avenging his sister’s death. So yeah, I’ll stick with Dorne, where Obara, Nym, and Tyene, along with Ellaria, can lead together. But because the Sand Snakes are still pretty young, they’ll get bogged down by sibling rivalry. Hell, I’d even be happy with a Kardashians-style series where the three dark-haired beauties outshine their other siblings—but you know, with spears.
I’ve discussed my theater kid credentials many times over, and being as I am I was unduly interested in the theater troupe Arya infiltrated last season in order to do the bidding of Jaqen H’ghar. So I propose this: A series entirely about the lives of these players. Think of it like the Slings & Arrows of the Game Of Thrones universe. Each season would find our heroes trying to put on a different comedic production. The story would pick up after the brutal murder of Lady Crane (Essie Davis) at the hands of the Waif. In her absence there’s now a struggle as to who becomes the company’s leading lady. Okay, so maybe this is the Braavosi version of Smash, except instead of a competition to play Marilyn Monroe it’s a feud over who gets to portray Cersei. The show would star, naturally, Richard E. Grant as Izembaro, the imperious artistic director of this motley crew just trying to make sure everyone hits their marks and learns their lines amid the (literal) backstabbing.
Nearly every major character on Game Of Thrones has their vocal supporters (emphasis on nearly—sorry, Joffrey), but few have as close to universal enjoyment as the sharp-tongued Lady Olenna Tyrell, played by the marvelous Dame Diana Rigg with just the right blend of steely reserve and twinkle in her eye. Borrowing the motto of House Tyrell for its title, this sitcom would place Olenna in a Golden Girls-type scenario, where her quick-witted temperament would get an opportunity to shine. Depending on how the series ends, it could either be a prequel or sequel, in which the Tyrell matriarch spends her days dealing with the everyday frustrations of the less-intelligent members of her immediate family. All she wants to do is enjoy what should be her retirement years, you see—but the wacky misadventures of her more impetuous relatives keep her constantly on her toes! A little something would ensue: And that something is hilarity.
“Someone I’d like to get a drink with” is a shitty rubric for picking a president, but a pretty good one for picking a late-night talk show host. And there’s nobody in Game Of Thrones who’s more fun to get hammered and shoot the shit with than Tyrion Lannister. (Preferably pre-Blackwater Bay, but we’ll take what we can get.) Format-wise, think Graham Norton with a hint of Real Time With Bill Maher, with a couple of giant bottles of booze thrown in to get everybody feeling witty and riled up. At the top of every episode, Tyrion would do a brisk, two-or-three-minute monologue—“Have you seen Ned Stark lately? There’s a man with a good head on his… Wait, never mind”—then get into the meat: Bringing on a panel of Westeros’ most notable citizens so that Tyrion can interview them, talk out the issues of the day, and, ultimately, mock the shit out of all of them to their faces. Sure, the bodyguard/medical maester/poison tester budget on this thing would be through the roof, but think of the ratings when our impish host grills Jon Snow over his latest dumb tactical decision, or pokes his hated sister about the big blow-up she had with her daughter-in-law at church.