Sunday nights on HBO have been one of TV’s most notable programming blocks for ages, with the strongest current lineup giving audiences a spring season full of laughs, blood and Gary Cole. Thankfully, the premium cable network realizes how invested viewers are in keeping that night intact, and HBO has quelled worries and supported predictions by ordering up Season 7 of Game of Thrones to premiere next year, and it has also granted season renewals to the riotous Veep and Silicon Valley. Life is grand.
There are probably a few people out there who truly considered the possibility of HBO not bringing Game of Thrones back after this season, but the rest of us knew it to be an inevitability, given how insanely popular the epic drama is for the network. The ratings are always massive and the critical acclaim, while occasionally negative when episodic subject matter turns extremely dark, hasn’t really let up since that first season. So there was little question that Season 7 would happen. But…
The big question now, and one that HBO’s press release cleanly avoided, is just how many episodes Season 7 will get. While HBO prez Michael Lombardo would love for the show to go on for years, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss just recently stated that they think there are 13 episodes left for this show, and that Season 7 and (potentially) Season 8 would be shorter than previous seasons. Fans are used to getting 10 episodes each year, so I imagine that cooler heads will not prevail if everyone involved keeps the episode count unconfirmed for the better part of the next year.
Even though we have no idea how Selina Meyer’s next year of political hijinks will go, it will all apparently end on a note positive enough to warrant another batch of episodes. Season 5 will be the first without creator Armando Iannucci, who left last year and was replaced by former Seinfeld writer David Mandel. It’ll probably be noticeable that Iannucci’s icepick-sharp tongue is missing, but there’s no possible way this many talented people can turn out anything that isn’t genius, so we’ll follow this show until it completely destroys the government and/or the country.
Speaking of ruining things, there are few pleasures more exciting than getting a fourth year of tech-savvy downfalls from Mike Judge and the Pied Piper team. Season 2 brought Richard, Erlich, Gilfoyle, Dinesh and Jared so close to success and then failure and then back again so many times that it seemed like someone’s head would spin right off by the time the finale ended. And now Season 3 will likely do the same thing, only with even more frustrating hilarity.
Game of Thrones’ action-packed Season 6 will premiere on HBO on Sunday, April 24, at 9 p.m. ET, followed by the Season 3 premiere of Silicon Valley at 10:00 p.m. ET and the Season 5 premiere of Veep at 10:30 p.m. ET. I’d say you could kick off that viewing experience with relief that these renewals happened, but I’m pretty sure Game of Thrones will destroy that relief before the opening titles.
To see when everything else is premiering over the coming months, check out our summer TV schedule.