Rome: The HBO show that made Game of Thrones possible

Thrones fans, you really need to watch this show.

If you love Game of Thrones (or were disappointed by its ending), you really need to check out Rome, the show that laid the groundwork for its success.

If you haven’t seen it yet, it is an epic historical drama set in the 20-year period where Rome would transform from a republic to an empire. History buffs will recognize all the major players such as Cicero, Brutus, Mark Antony, and, of course, Julius Caesar. Just like Game of Thrones, it has an interweaving story that incorporates many facets of Roman life, from the lowly soldiers, freedmen, and plebians, all the way up to the highest-ranking members of society like the patricians, senators, and eventually, the emperor.

Thrones fans will also catch a few familiar faces popping up throughout the show. Julius Caesar is played by Ciaran Hinds who would go on to play Mance Rayder (the King beyond the wall), Indira Varma who plays Niobe would go on to play Ellaria Sand (head of the Sand Snakes), and Tobias Menzies who plays Brutus would go on to play Edmure Tully.

While the show was cancelled early due to its high production costs (resulting in a somewhat fast and overstuffed second season), both seasons still manage to be fantastic. Just like Game of Thrones, the dialogue is brilliant, witty, and often cutting. Large battles are secondary to intrigue, political manoeuvring, and metaphorical backstabbing (and the occasional real backstabbing for good measure).

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Thanks to Rome, HBO learned some hard lessons when it comes to creating a large-scale epic and the budget constraints that can bring with it. Rome has its flaws, but it still holds up as one of the best HBO shows around and without it, there’s a good chance we never would have been able to see Westeros fully realized on the small screen.

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