Thanks to Stony Brook’s free HBO GO, countless students have likely exhausted all five seasons of “Game of Thrones” as a means for procrastination and  temporary escape. Sadly, the hit show does not return until April of next year, leaving many devoid of suitable binge watching material.

Or so they thought.

HBO provides a wealth of original content spanning many genres and styles. While not every HBO show can match the scale or intensity of “Game of Thrones,” there are a few that can hold fans over until next season airs.

“The Sopranos”

Often hailed as one of the best shows of all time, “The Sopranos” is considered a cornerstone of the Golden Age of Television. The show follows the life of fictional New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and his family as they try to maintain their criminal enterprise while dealing with a myriad of personal struggles. Renowned for its complex themes and characters, “The Sopranos” has  easily cemented its status in American pop culture.

Its critical and commercial success heralded the rise of the one-hour drama, making shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” possible. The show’s familial focus, along with its tense moments, would certainly appeal to fans of “Game of Thrones.” After all, the fantasy series is often called to “The Sopranos of Middle Earth.”

“Rome”

HBO first delved into an age of mythic heroes and great empires with “Rome,” the story of two common soldiers caught amidst radical change and radical men during Rome’s transition from republic to empire.

The show’s ancient quality could draw those who enjoy the medieval setting of “Game of Thrones.” “Rome” also features a great ensemble of characters, both fictional and historically based. Unfortunately, the series’ wide breadth proved too costly for HBO, as it was cancelled after only its second season.

“The Wire”

Perhaps the only HBO show to rival “Game of Thrones” in terms of scope would be “The Wire,” a crime drama centered on the interconnected institutions within the city of Baltimore.

Creator David Simon examines the modern American city primarily through the eyes of drug traffickers and law enforcement. While the show garnered little attention or praise during its initial run, it eventually gained popularity thanks to online streaming and word of mouth. Spanning many subcultures and environments, “The Wire” has a quality of worldliness that will captivate fans of “Game of Thrones.”

“Oz”

While “Orange is the New Black” may have popularized the prison drama, it was “Oz” that jumpstarted the genre. Set in a fictional maximum security, “Oz” explores the fight for power and survival among both the inmates and the correctional officers.

Warring factions clash physically and mentally, vying for control over in their oppressing home. The show gained notoriety for its graphic portrayal of sex and violence. Like “Game of Thrones.” The show embraces its dark and often gruesome narratives, allowing for genuine and gripping television.

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