As hosts of the new GoT recap show streaming on HBO NOW, Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan have a whole world to talk about. The former Grantland writers and current contributors to The Ringer are releasing After the Thrones on Mondays, breaking down the finer points of the series. The two chatted with HBO about their love for Game of Thrones, Season 6 and of course, Hot Pie.
HBO: How did you both begin covering Game of Thrones?
Andy: We first started covering the show when we were working at Grantland. I was the TV critic, and Chris and I hosted a podcast together. Both of us quickly realized that the fandom and culture surrounding each episode of Game of Thrones was just as thrilling and engaging as the show itself. We had so much fun with Game of Thrones on our podcast that for Season 5, we spun off a GoT podcast called "Watch the Thrones," where we talked specifically about episodes, previewed episodes, gave space for fan theories and speculation, and hopefully provided some service-y bits too. We brought in our then-Grantland, now-Ringer colleagues Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion to help us out. They know literally everything that’s ever happened on the show, in the books and places we can’t even imagine, like scrolls descended from Reddit threads.
Chris: I was mostly writing and editing stuff on the sports side of Grantland. The initial podcast was kind of a lark for me, but as the show became a bigger deal, we realized it was almost like a sport. The Sunday night episode was like the game, and there were so many different angles, you could talk about it all week long.
HBO: Have you read the books?
Andy: Neither of us have read the books.
Chris: We realized there was a lane for us to fill in terms of talking about the show from a non-expert position. We were discovering things about it and acting as the audience's proxy in that way. We’re asking questions and having fun with the world.
Andy: Despite a lot of spirited debate about that with some readers of my recaps, I was pretty adamant that my role at Grantland was covering television. I really like watching the show – I didn’t want to have too much knowledge going into each episode. That said, both of us have an enormous amount of respect for the people who have spend the time reading the books so it’s not like I would be against reading them in the future.
HBO: Who would you consider your “spirit character” – someone who embodies your personality?
Chris: I think this is inevitably a situation where you’re going to sound a bit foolish or self-aggrandizing, but my favorite character right now, and over the course of the show, has been Davos. He has the most common sense and the closest perspective I think to our world. He’s this regular guy going through these fantastical situations. I always feel like the show is making a lot of sense when he’s on camera – no matter what is happening.
Andy: If I’m being honest, I think I’m probably most like Hot Pie, Arya’s cowardly friend who just wanted to bake, live in a restaurant and not deal with fighting.
HBO: If you could travel to any point in the story – past, present of future – where would you go?
Andy: I wouldn’t mind going to see the Doom of Valyria because that’s the coolest sounding historical event I’ve ever heard of. I could find out what happened and could come back and sound a lot smarter on our TV show.
Chris: I wouldn’t mind going back to the moment where Jaime slew the Mad King and helping him with the messaging and the branding of that moment. He left a lot on the table and got a really bad rap for essentially saving millions of people. I would just go back and be like, “Hey man, tell your story. Put a spin on it.”
Andy: One more suggestion: I would like to travel to the future point where resurrected Jon Snow kills the Night’s King, turns around, kisses Daenerys, high fives Tyrion and Arya and they all fly away on a dragon happily ever after. I can come back to present and watch the rest of the show in complete tranquility.
HBO: What are you hoping to see in Season 6?
Andy: Chris just wants to see Cersei and Jaime work it out.
Chris: I love those guys, I think they’re great. They found love in a hopeless place.
I would probably say the Bran storyline. It’s so rare for television shows to give a character a season off and then revisit them. By all accounts, Bran’s going to be a major part of the season and for all the dragons, Red women and everything else, his kind of magic has been off to the side and taken a backseat to politics. To have one of our main characters back and going through some kind of transformation will be fascinating to see play out.
Andy: I’d also like to put in a small, outside the box pitch for a surprising spin-off starring Rickon Stark and Gendry called “Putting on Heirs.” They’re both wandering around telling everyone they’re legitimately related to the throne and everyone ignores them.
HBO: What can fans expect from After the Thrones?
Andy: We want to hit three planks in every episode: We want to be entertaining and have fun, because this show inspires a lot of conversation and lively debate.
Two: We want to be service-y and informative. We very intentionally have a segment called “Who the F**k Was That?” Obviously, this season with Jon Snow, everyone wants to talk about the possibility of resurrection, but very few people have time to rewatch all 50 episodes. We’ll take that on and say, “There’s actually been two or three examples of this happening before and here’s how, why and what’s relevant or not.” We want to help fans have the full picture of what’s going on.
Thirdly, we want to have a – hopefully – smart, engaged conversation about some of the weightier issues the show isn’t afraid to deal with. In the first episode we talked about the feminism that emerged in the season premiere, especially after a number of seasons in which a number of female characters were treated shabbily by other characters. We wanted to have that conversation and take it as seriously as fans and creators take the show.
One of the great things about Game of Thrones is that as dark and occasionally savage as the action can get on screen, it is still an incredibly fun experience to be a part of, talk, speculate, wonder and dream about. That vibe is one we really enjoy sharing with people. Heavy are the heads with the crowns here. People love the show and we hope we do it justice.