HBO Programming Chief on ‘Game of Thrones’ Finale: ‘This Was Well Thought Out’

Game of Thrones Kit Harington
Helen Sloan

Not everyone is satisfied with the way that “Game of Thrones” ended Sunday night. And that, according to HBO programming president Casey Bloys, was to be expected.

Speaking to Variety, Bloys praised series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for their work bringing the premium service’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels to a close.

“I think the guys did a great job,” Bloys said. “It’s always sad when a show departs, but that’s part of the TV life cycle, and life moves on. But obviously we’re really proud of the show.”

That pride holds up in the face of griping on social media about the finale. The end of the show has sharply divided its fans.

“I think to a certain extent it was expected that for a show this big, there’s no way you’re going to please everybody” Bloys said. “It’s roughly split with some people loving it and some people disliking it. That’s about what you’d expect. I think the guys landed a massive plane and did a great job doing it. But you’re never going to make everybody happy, nor should that be the goal.”

Bloys also waved off criticism that season eight — the shortest of the entire series at six episodes — should have been longer.

“File this under you can’t please everybody,” Bloys said. “The guys have had a very, very specific plan in their head for a long time. This was not something that was kind of slapdash, where at the end of last season we said, ‘Eh, we only feel like doing six.’ They were very, very deliberate. This was well thought out.”

Regardless of how they felt about the finale, 19.3 million viewers watched Emilia Clarke’s heroine-turned-villain Daenerys Targaryen die at the hands of her lover, Kit Harington’s Jon Snow, Sunday night. That size audience provided HBO a significant platform to promote its new series.

Among the shows HBO hyped in a number of new promos Sunday were “Big Little Lies,” “Euphoria,” “Westworld,” and “Watchmen.”

“Obviously it’s a great marketing platform,” Bloys said of the “Thrones” finale.

Not anywhere in sight, however, is “Confederate,” the alternate-history drama series that was to be Benioff and Weiss’ follow-up to “Thrones.” After being given a series order by HBO in 2017, “Confederate” drew strong negative response from critics who questioned the efficacy of HBO mounting a series spearheaded by two white men that posited a world in which the South won the Civil War and slavery remained legal in Southern states.

Subsequently, Benioff and Weiss were recruited by Disney to write and produce three new films in the “Star Wars” franchise. Last week, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that the pair would direct the next “Star Wars” movie after this December’s “The Rise of Skywalker,” an untitled film slated for 2022.

Bloys signaled that, in light of Benioff and Weiss’ commitment to the “Star Wars” franchise, “Confederate” is now on hold indefinitely.

“They’re going off to do the ‘Star Wars’ movies and they just kind of put it aside,” he said. “If they want to come back and do it, they’ll do it. But we’ll take their lead on it.”