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HBO Really Hopes You Love Westworld, Because They’ve Already Got Five Seasons Planned Out

A lot of us have mixed feelings about the early news we’ve heard about Westworld. The first episode is going to include sexual violence, and although showrunner Lisa Joy has said that the creative team has “endeavored for it to not be about the fetishization of those acts,” it’s still hard to know what to expect from HBO these days. It seems like the network wants this show to become the next Game of Thrones-esque genre fiction success for them, since EW reported today that HBO has already planned out the next 5-7 years of the show’s story … even though the pilot episode has not even aired yet!

According to EW, the production team for Westworld frequently compares their show to Game of Thrones; although Westworld is more sci-fi than fantasy, there are clear similarities in terms of the desired scope. Jonathan Nolan, one of the other showrunners in addition to Lisa Joy, pointed out that Game of Thrones had the advantage of the book series as a guideline, whereas Westworld is inspired by one feature-length movie of the same title.

Nolan put it this way: “We would joke that don’t have George [R. R. Martin]–we don’t have the novels. We have a fantastic original film, but that’s a little under two hours of storytelling. So our joke was we have to write the ‘novels’ first, and then adapt them and then go shoot them.”

Joy says that the results of all their planning have paid off, explaining, “It’s a really complex interlocking story. We knew where we wanted to go and we knew exactly how the season ended where the kind of character arcs ended, but weaving those scripts and writing the dialogue for all these brilliant actors, it takes time.”

Still, becoming “the next Game of Thrones” isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially given early concerns about how Westworld will treat its female characters, as well as its portrayal of sex work. The show’s early promotions feature a lot of scenes that take place in a brothel, plus the show is about robots who are programmed to “consent,” and so on–very tricky themes to navigate, there, and I don’t know that Game of Thrones is the best model to look towards when it comes to approaching those issues.

Then again, Lisa Joy’s involvement might be a source of hope, since she’s been involved with other great shows like Pushing Daisies and Burn Notice. Jonathan Nolan is best known for co-writing a bunch of his brother Christopher Nolan’s movies (e.g. The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, The Prestige, etc.) but that list of accolades doesn’t necessarily convince me that he’ll be great at tackling the topics brought up in a show like Westworld.

Westworld is not even out yet, so we’ll just have to wait and see. However, it sure does sound like HBO is going to make this show happen for as long as possible, whether we tune in or not!

(via Polygon, image via YouTube screenshot)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).