'House of the Dragon' Fires Up Max in June

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen is damn tired in 'House of the Dragon' Season 2

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen in 'House of the Dragon' Season 2

Theo Whitman/HBO

It is not an exaggeration to say that Game of Thrones helped change the face of television. Before the HBO British-ish fantasy series became the dominant show in the media landscape for a decade, prestige TV was an American-focused phenomenon starring American actors about American stories, such as The Sopranos, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. After Thrones, production studios began making shows like The Americans, starring Welsh actors like Matthew Rhys, remaking British shows like House of Cards, creating British/European set shows like Vikings... or just importing British shows wholesale like Broadchurch and Peaky Blinders

While the heyday of that movement is now on the wane, Game of Thrones' successor series, House of the Dragon, is still a ratings magnet, and the British talent it elevates can make or break careers. It's just doing it in a landscape where it competes against other shows that do the same thing, from Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and The Wheel of Time (both at Amazon) to Masters of the Air and Ted Lasso on Apple TV+. (Not to mention other HBO series like The White Lotus or actual British series on high-profile American streamers, like Doctor Who on Disney+.)

So while Westeros may not be in the slightest bit British, and dragons fairly fictional, those who ride them will always be of interest to Anglophiles and PBS viewers, especially as those castings heavily influence who will and won't be up for parts in future Masterpiece productions. So let's check out the trailer, cluck in faint sympathy at that thing they've put on poor Matt Smith's head, and see who is pitted against whom in the Westerosi civil war happening over on House of the Dragon.  

As usual, HBO's synopsis is unhelpful:

Based on George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood,” the series, set 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones,” tells the story of House Targaryen. Westeros is on the brink of a bloody civil war, with the Green and Black Councils fighting for King Aegon and Queen Rhaenyra, respectively. As each side believes theirs to be the rightful seat on the Iron Throne, “All Must Choose” their side of House Targaryen as the realm fractures in season two.

Season 2's returning main cast includes Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Olivia Cooke (Slow Horses), Emma D’Arcy (Hanna), Eve Best (MaryLand), Steve Toussaint (It's a Sin), Fabien Frankel (The Serpent), Ewan Mitchell (World on Fire), Tom Glynn-Carney (Rogue Heroes), Sonoya Mizuno (Civil War), and Rhys Ifans (Elementary). The returning supporting cast includes Harry Collett (Dunkirk), Bethany Antonia (Nolly), Phoebe Campbell (Midsomer Murders), Phia Saban (The Last Kingdom), Jefferson Hall (Oppenheimer), and Matthew Needham (Great Expectations). 

As for the new additions for Season 2, they include Jamestown's Abubakar Salim as Alyn of Hull, GLOW's Gayle Rankin as Alys Rivers, Lot No. 249's Freddie Fox as Ser Gwayne Hightower, Mary & George's Simon Russell Beale as Ser Simon Strong, Normal People's Clinton Liberty as Addam of Hull, Sister Boniface Mystery's Jamie Kenna as Ser Alfred Broome, Liar's Kieran Bew as Hugh, After Life's Tom Bennett as Ulf, The Bay's Tom Taylor as Lord Cregan Stark, and Luther's Vincent Regan as Ser Rickard Thorne.

House of the Dragon Season 2 will debut on HBO and Max on Sunday, June 16, 2024, and stream/air one episode a week through the beginning of August.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

A Woman's Place Is In Your Face. Cat Approved. Find her on BlueSky and other social media of your choice: @anibundel.bsky.social

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