They’re the television series everyone keeps telling you to watch: The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. But why have these shows pulled in huge audiences and why is everyone talking about them?
We’ve taken a closer look to uncover the secrets of their success – turns out it takes five well-chosen ingredients to make the perfect television show.
1. Innovative stories
Drama is still the pre-condition for excellence. It’s not only about swordfights, sex and splattered zombie brains. Behind every great show is a compelling story keeping audiences engaged and guessing what will happen next. The transformation from normal guy to drug mogul has never been so pointedly depicted. We’ve never seen the fascinating mix of sex, violence, and fantasy spun so thrillingly, while no one has ever described a zombie apocalypse with such tough-as-nails characters.
2. NO FEAR OF VIOLENCE
None of these three big television dramas pull any punches when it comes to on-screen violence; not that surprising when you consider the situations these characters find themselves in. And no one is safe. The violence is often brutal and unexpected, but it doesn’t feels like it has been included for the hell of it. Scenes of a human mauled by a zombie, a beheading or a man taking his life are not easy to watch – and they’re not meant to be. But it has a counter meaning, whether with family life in BB, sex scenes in GoT, or friendships in TWD. And this is what keeps us watching.
3. EXCELLENT CASTS
You would be hard pressed to find a better collection of actors than those in these shows. It’s not only main characters like Brian Cranston, Andrew Lincoln and Peter Dinklage; even the people in the background - the messenger boy, the maid, the nameless survivor - pull off performances to make it all believable. Just consider the Walkers in The Walking Dead: each one has to go through ‘Zombie School’ to make the cut and their acting needs to be genuine and authentic.
4. HOLLYWOOD INGENUITY
The location, camerawork, editing, sounds and special effects on Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead can stand up proudly against many Hollywood films. They are even able to go a step further in many cases because they do not suffer from the same constraints as movies.
Innovative close-ups or enigmatic make-up pull in the audience. It’s not just about big budgets (admittedly these three have budgets a lot of shows would die for), it’s about having the freedom and confidence to take risks and push the boundaries with this budget.
5. DEDICATED FAN BASE
Enormous fan bases and the ease through which people can share stories online about their favorite shows play a massive role. It’s not only about sitting back and watching; fans engage with these shows by feverishly discussing cliffhangers and predicting what will happen in the next series.
Will Jon Snow make a return in Game of Thrones? Who did Negan kill in the final episode of The Walking Dead? And was the finale in Breaking Bad simply Walt’s dying hallucination?