May 28, 2023 Could Be The Greatest Night In HBO History

Even though the finale of “Game of Thrones” didn’t actually herald the end of event television, there’s still plenty of cause for concern among fans of great TV. I don’t think weekly TV will go away soon; prestige dramas aside, cable shows like “Yellowstone” pull massive numbers week-to-week, and even the godfather of the binge model, Netflix, seems to be growing somewhat weary of the drop-it-and-forget-it strategy. 

But even when other shows rise up to take HBO’s coveted Sunday night slot, cornering the market on Monday’s watercooler discussion, it’s unclear how many of those future series will be this good. The entertainment industry, like all industries, is facing a recession, and the current response from major studios seems to be to greenlight more of whatever raked in a ton of money in the past. This means tacked-on Disney and Pixar sequels, reboots of “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings,” and, for some reason, no fewer than four “Billions” spinoffs. Hollywood has always loved its remakes, but any remaining sense of finality in on-screen storytelling seems to be vanishing before our eyes.

It’s that loss, perhaps, that makes the simultaneous, planned conclusion of these two smart, original shows feel so important. The ends of “Barry” and “Succession” will almost certainly be riveting and emotional, worthy of whatever debate and praise they inspire. Watched back to back, they’ll leave us reeling, overwhelmed, and likely to keep the two shows in conversation for the rest of our lives. 

But they’ll also serve as a message to an industry that’s flagging creatively across the board: weekly appointment television is still alive, and so are fantastic stories that actually end.

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