'Game of Thrones': The possibility of eight seasons and does fewer seasons mean more creativity?

Those behind the HBO hit drama 'Game of Thrones' are currently involved in negotiations for seventh and eighth seasons of the show (the sixth debuts this spring). How has the model for a successful TV show changed over the decades?

HBO/AP
'Game of Thrones' stars Emilia Clarke.

Fans of the smash hit TV show “Game of Thrones” may be getting a few more seasons of the show. 

Those behind “Thrones” are reportedly in negotiations with network HBO for not only a seventh but also an eighth season of the program. The sixth season of the fantasy show is set to debut this April. 

In the past, “Thrones” co-creator David Benioff had said the plan was for the program to run seven seasons. More recently, however, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo said that Benioff and co-creator D.B. Weiss were thinking of eight and that HBO would happily take more (not surprising, considering “Thrones” is the most-watched show in HBO history). 

“Thrones” is based on the "A Song of Ice and Fire" fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin, which adds another wrinkle. There are two more novels yet to be released in the series, according to Martin, who has published five so far. Could the TV adaptation wrap up the story in two seasons? Or would they need more time? 

The number of seasons that a critically acclaimed show will run has also been an interesting question in the last several years. Many favorite shows had long runs, with, for example, “M*A*S*H” running for 11 seasons and “Friends” running for 10.

But shows have often ran for a far shorter length of time in, for example, Britain, with one of the most critically acclaimed British shows ever, “The Office,” only running for 14 episodes (not counting a 2013 new special episode). 

After the British “Office” gained popularity, some bemoaned the short run, but “The Office” co-creator Ricky Gervais said of the amount of episodes, “I didn't want to repeat myself or water it down, so I just left it as it was, and I've never regretted that, really.”

In contrast, the show's American adaptation ran for more than 200 episodes. Critical response cooled in later seasons.

In our current age of quality television, however, some have expressed admiration for British TV's brevity. When discussing a then-possible end of her show “Girls” (it has now been confirmed that the HBO show will now end after six seasons), creator and star Lena Dunham said in an interview, “I think America has a tendency to push shows past their due dates. I like the British model – in and out." 

There can be the perception that fewer episodes and fewer seasons equals more creatively satisfying work. Are some of the most recent critically acclaimed shows running for fewer seasons, then? Not quite, but since the seasons are shorter, they’re still running for fewer episodes. 

The recently concluded show “Mad Men,” for example, ran on AMC for eight seasons, but the seasons were usually only 13 episodes, as are those of acclaimed Netflix shows like "House of Cards" or "Orange Is the New Black." “Thrones” itself usually runs for 10 episodes a season.

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