TIME Television

Don’t Expect Streaming to Make Your TV Bill Cheaper

HBO In cable as in HBO's Game of Thrones, the old dynasties are under attack, but that doesn't mean your wallet will be liberated.

But it could just make TV, and the experience of watching it, better.

For years, cable TV companies had a powerful sales pitch: What the hell else you gonna do? You wanted ESPN, CNN, Disney Channel, you paid the price.

Now, the cable box in your living room is suddenly under assault. Sony and Dish Network’s Sling have recently launched their own TV bundles, available over broadband. Apple reportedly plans one in the fall. In addition to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and CBS All Access, HBO is finally about to offer its service online without a cable subscription, just in time for the premiere of Game of Thrones.

Consumers, fittingly, have greeted this news like the slaves of Meereen greeted Daenerys Targaryen. Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Cutter of Cords! But in my print column in TIME this week, I suggest you not get too excited–at least if you’re hoping that the streaming revolution will mean you’ll be able to watch everything you want for less money.

For starters, you’ll still need broadband, likely from the same company who now sells you cable, and there’s no reason that bill won’t skyrocket. (Today, you often get it at a cheap introductory rate, possibly because you bundle it with cable.) The most popular offerings (sports, prestige drama) won’t be nearly as cheap as you might assume if you strip them away from the cable bundle. And none of the parties involved–telecoms, media giants, tech corporations–are sitting in their boardrooms dreaming up ways to get as little money from you as possible. (My full column is for TIME subscribers, because we too are trying to make money in the content business.)

That said, there are other reasons to be excited about streaming TV besides money. One, which I’ll write about more in the future, is that changing the way TV is delivered has the potential to change, and hopefully improve, the kind of TV you see. It already has, to an extent. The best TV show of 2014, Transparent, wasn’t on “TV” but on Amazon Prime. And the Netflix Effect on TV has had repercussions far beyond Netflix itself. It’s very likely, for instance, that a big part of the reason The X-Files is getting a second life on Fox is that it had a second life on Netflix, becoming relevant (and thus valuable) to a new generation of viewers.

But I’m also curious to see how streaming services change, and I hope improve, the experience of watching TV. Take something as simple as how you find a channel. The practice of numbering channels is a holdover from the rabbit-ears broadcast days of TV, yet it continues with cable, where you scroll through a grid of hundreds of channels through a cumbersome, lag-prone interface. (I watch TV for a living, and even for me it’s harder to find a channel I rarely watch on my cable system than it is to get driving directions to a city I’ve never been to.)

Compared with that, the interface for finding “channels” when I use Apple TV, or Roku, or even my kids’ PS4 is at least a process that feels like it belongs in the 21st century, with channel names and icons and more usable search functions. As I write in my column, I don’t expect Apple, busy rolling out a smart watch that tops out at $17,000, to make TV a bargain. But I do think it could make it elegant, intelligible and useful. If they, or someone else, can give me a genuinely better interface with my TV, at least I might not resent so much the way they interface with my wallet.

As I say, I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this in the coming months. But I’m curious to hear from you in the meantime, in the comments or on Twitter: leaving aside the size of your cable bill, what are the things about your experience of TV that you’d most like streaming TV to fix?

TIME movies

These Game of Thrones Actors Are Becoming Movie Stars

These Westeros natives are exploring the silver screen

Game of Thrones, HBO’s sprawling fantasy series, is often described as “cinematic” in its use of exotic locations, its well-choreographed action, and its very talented cast. It makes sense, then, that the show’s most recognizable stars are now getting very close attention from Hollywood’s top studios. Even those who entered Game of Thrones with busy careers have seen their dance cards grow yet more full as the show gained popularity, while those who had done relatively little beforehand have experienced a rapid rise to the top of the game of moviemaking.

Here are the six stars who’ve gotten the most career lift from their adventures in Westeros.

  • Natalie Dormer

    Murray Close—Lionsgate

    One of Game of Thrones’s most eye-catching supporting characters, Margaery Tyrell approaches the world with a keen sense of strategy. The actress who plays her is as sophisticated when it comes to climbing to the top of Hollywood’s heap: She got attention for her drastic haircut for the the third installment of The Hunger Games franchise, and will return as propaganda videographer Cressida in this fall’s concluding film. She’s also signed on for the promising zombie flick Patient Zero, from Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky, whose The Counterfeiters won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Dormer has a nose for great collaborators: Recent projects of hers have included Ridley Scott’s The Counselor and Ron Howard’s Rush.

  • Lena Headey

    NBC's "66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards" - Arrivals
    Kevork Djansezian—NBC/Getty Images

    Headey’s pre-Game of Thrones résumé was impressive: Like Clarke, she played Skynet’s adversary (in Fox’s TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), and had been the female lead in 300. But Headey’s role in the long-gestating Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, in which she’ll be joined by TV dad Charles Dance, might be the project to push her to a new level of fan adulation.

  • Peter Dinklage

    San Francisco Premiere Of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 5 - Arrivals
    C Flanigan—Getty Images

    Like Headey, Dinklage had a long career before he joined George R. R. Martin’s universe. But the recognition he’s obtained for his performance as Tyrion Lannister surely helped drive fans to see his villainous turn in 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. He presently has six projects in various stages of development, including this year’s Adam Sandler would-be summer smash Pixels and the animated adaptation of the game Angry Birds.

  • Sophie Turner

    HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 5 - San Francisco Premiere
    Steve Jennings—WireImage/Getty Images

    Like her TV husband Tyrion, the actress who plays Sansa Stark is joining the X-Men cinematic universe; she’ll be playing the young Jean Grey in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. She’s also been announced as the titular Frankenstein novelist in the gothic drama Mary Shelley’s Monster.

  • Gwendoline Christie

    San Francisco Premiere Of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 5 - Arrivals
    C Flanigan—Getty Images

    Standing over six feet tall, Christie has attracted much praise since she entered the Game of Thrones fray as the fearsome Brienne of Tarth. Her next moves are as likely to garner attention, and as action-packed: She’s to appear as a rebellion leader in the final Hunger Games film, and as an unspecified character in the newest installment of Star Wars. Both are due out this holiday season.

TIME Television

Watch UFC Champ Ronda Rousey Do Her Trademark ‘Armbar’ on Jimmy Fallon

“They call you the arm collector”

UFC star Ronda Rousey was a guest on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show Tuesday and the late-night host asked her to demonstrate her infamous armbar hold on him.

“They call you the arm collector,” he says to the UFC bantamweight titleholder. “Because you almost snap people’s arms in half when you’re fighting.”

A very nervous Fallon then chooses a safety word and holds his arm out for Rousey to “safely” show off her MMA maneuver, known in judo as a jūji-gatame.

She then pushes Fallon’s arm back, forcing him to tap out.

Rousey was chatting with Fallon about her upcoming autobiography and her acting roles in Fast and Furious 7 and Entourage.

Read next: Why UFC Champion Ronda Rousey Won’t Fight a Man

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME celebrities

Duck Dynasty Star Finds New Controversy in Anti-Atheist Speech

Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and The Duggars Speak At CPAC
Kris Connor—Getty Images Phil Robertson of A&E's Duck Dynasty addresses the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel and Convention Center on February 27, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Phil Robertson is no stranger to scandal

Phil Robertson, the paterfamilias on A&E’s Duck Dynasty who also frequents the Christian speaking circuit, has stirred up controversy yet again by inventing a bizarre parable in which an atheist family is raped and murdered.

The conservative reality television star has a reputation for sounding off about controversial issues. In 2013, he came under fire for making homophobic remarks in an interview with GQ. This time, his focal point was atheists, whom—he asserted—have no moral compass because they do not believe in God. Here is the graphic story he told, per the audio from Right Wing Watch:

I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’

Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’

The moral of the tale? “If it happens to them, they probably would say, ‘Something about this just ain’t right,'” Robertson said.

Some fundamental Christians, like Robertson, believe that morality is dependent on the existence of God and by rejecting God, atheists also reject morals. A writer at the Friendly Atheist blog responded, “I don’t know a single atheist or agnostic who thinks that terrorizing, raping, torturing, mutilating, and killing people is remotely OK, and I frankly think that Robertson doesn’t either.”

A&E declined to comment on Robertson’s speech.

TIME celebrities

Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke Says She Turned Down Fifty Shades

Game of Thrones Season 5

The actress who plays Khaleesi says she was concerned about getting a reputation for doing nudity

It’s hard to imagine the Mother of Dragons playing a bookish, submissive virgin. But apparently Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones, was offered the role of Anastasia Steele in the S&M movie Fifty Shades of Grey.

Clarke told The Hollywood Reporter that she turned down the offer. “No regrets,” she said in the interview. “I’d done nudity before and was concerned with being labeled for doing it again.”

The wildly popular HBO show, of course, demands plenty of nudity from nearly all its actors. But now that she’s earning a rumored $7 million per season on the show, Clarke presumably has a little more control over how often she strips down. “There are other women who remove items of clothing on our show, so they’ve kind of got my nipple count down now,” she joked.

Instead of Fifty Shades, Clarke took a starring role as badass Sarah Connor in Terminator: Genisys with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie premieres July 1, but first Clarke will return as Khaleesi in Game of Thrones’ fifth season premiere on April 12.



TIME Television

Executive Producer of Pretty Little Liars Dishes on the Season 5 Finale

pretty little liars
Ron Tom/ABC Family via Getty Images A scene from 'Welcome to the Dollhouse,' the season finale of Pretty Little Liars that premiered on March 24, 2015.

"I’m hoping we’ve done our job to make you go, 'You know what? Things are not what they seem.'"

On last night’s season 5 finale of Pretty Little Liars, the identity of Big “A” was revealed to be someone named Charles. According to some old home videos that Spencer found, it certainly seems that Charles is yet another son of Mrs. DiLaurentis, and therefore a brother to Ali and Jason—not to mention a potential half brother to Spencer. Also revealed in the hour: Mona is alive and well. That is, if you consider being trapped in a real-life dollhouse to be “well.”

Following the finale, we took our burning questions to executive producer Oliver Goldstick, who told us a little about Charles’ personality—and what comes after “A.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Can you say if Charles is a twin, or is he just related to the DiLaurentis family?
I would just say the latter is what’s most important right now.

Is this a character we’ve seen before?
Yes, we’ve seen this person before. Indeed we have.

I’m curious about Charles’ personality. Give me three words to describe him.
First of all, don’t settle that it’s definitely the name Charles, because an anagram is an anagram. We definitely have gotten a big clue here. But just know that this person is fiercely intelligent. I would say “devious,” and the word “wrathful.” That’s an SAT word for you. I didn’t say “vituperative,” I said “wrathful.” I could have said “vituperative,” but I’m not going to do that.

Once we hear his story, do you think fans will empathize with Charles?
I wouldn’t rule that out, because this show has been that since the beginning. Look who Alison was when we started 120 episodes ago. Would you ever have empathized with this girl on any level? I’m hoping we’ve done our job to make you go, “You know what? Things are not what they seem.” In this town, things are not what they seem. So even with Alison, I think she’s living proof on this series that you might empathize with the least likely person.

We got to see a little home video last night. Will we see Charles in flashbacks moving forward?
We’re not relying so much on the flashbacks anymore. There will be some stuff coming up in season 6 that will give you a little more insight.

Another thing a lot of people are talking about is Charles’ resources. He managed to build this dollhouse. What can you say about his resources? I don’t know if he had a lot of time on his hands, if he had help…
[Laughs] They feel infinite, don’t they? That’s where I go back to fiercely intelligent and devious, because the ability to amass this kind of—I don’t want to say “arsenal” because that’s a terrible word, but it is an arsenal in a sense because this person’s had a lot of time on their hands to figure out how to carry out such an intricate plot against all of these girls. I would say this person is very resourceful, but their intelligence is what is behind it. Their intelligence and their ability to harness what’s available to them through technology.

Let’s go back to those three words: fiercely intelligent, devious, and resourceful, because that really is a good word for who Charles is.

I know season 6 picks up right where we left off and that the Liars will escape. So how is this experience going to affect the Liars?
It has great impact. What we’ve done in the season 6 summer season is condensed it so it really takes place three weeks before their graduation, so we’ll deal with the fallout of the trauma.

So the entire summer season takes place over three weeks?
Yes it is, yeah. ‘Til the prom, ‘til graduation. We’ve compressed it for very specific reasons because we wanted to deal with the fallout. You’ll be dealing with what happened in that dollhouse that we didn’t see last night when we come back. So there will be ramifications of those three weeks that they spent in there as well.

And then the four-year time jump will occur at the end of the summer season?

Marlene King has said that this is the beginning of the end of the “A” story, that you all are ready to answer all these questions. My question is: What comes after that?
This much trauma and this much suffering and the machinations over how many seasons doesn’t go away that quickly. So we believe there’s twisted—you’ll see. There’s some real fallout even after you may know the identity of “A.” There will be fallout. It will not be over for these girls.

I know that there’s another missing girl coming into the mix…
I don’t want to answer too much of that, but you’ll see. Is it somebody you know, is that what you’re asking me? There’s a familiarity, so I’m not going to say anything more than that. You won’t be totally shocked by that element.

Going forward, knowing that you’re going to get to deliver all of these answers, is there a specific mystery that you’re most excited for people to get the answer to?
Because we’re already deep into the first half of [season] 6A, it’s deeply satisfying. This is a very satisfying way to unpeel this onion. The audience has scratched their head and gone, “Why did we go down this path for so long? Why do we care about Bethany Young? Why was she in Alison’s grave?” It will be very satisfying when you find out.

Does this mean we’ll get to know more about the Campbell family?

How would you describe them?
Oh my God, they live in Rosewood, they’re freaks! Anyone who’s stayed in this town after what’s gone on to these girls, now that it’s become news—and all the parents know after last night, anyone who stays in Rosewood and doesn’t find a passport out, they’re certifiable. I would say there’s something in the water, definitely. This town has so many twisted secrets, and you’re going to be treated to more when we come back in season 6.

Pretty Little Liars returns for its sixth season in June.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME Television

Here’s Hoping the Next Looking Will Be Better

HBO Murray Bartlett, Jonathan Groff and Frankie J. Alvarez in Looking

The HBO show was often hamhanded, but it was necessary

HBO has announced that its comedy/drama hybrid about gay men in San Francisco, Looking, has been cancelled after two seasons. It’s a disappointment to that show’s small cadre of fans who were left with a cliffhanger of an ending (the network has promised a wrap-up special, for what it’s worth), but still, it’s a moment that should be greeted with a valedictory spirit. Looking was a show that broke ground; it was by far the most prominent series ever to deal (almost) exclusively with the inner lives of gay men. And now that the ground has been broken, the next show about gay men can be as provocative, strange, and interesting as Looking was not.

That’s not to say that it’s true, as was advanced by critics and observers in the gay community, that Looking‘s dullness was a flaw that made the series bad. But it was undeniable that there was a certain studiousness to the way the show framed its characters. Here was the inexperienced naif, whose insecurities and lack of self-awareness are more plot catalyst than character trait. Here was the older gay man, symbol of the psychic scars suffered by those for whom homophobia was a daily part of home life. And here, introduced in the second season, is the bearish AIDS patient who manages his disease with complete aplomb, to carry across the notion that gay men’s relationship with the HIV threat has changed. Tuning into Looking, it was easy to feel as if the show had been caretakingly engineered to convey specific ideas about modern gay life. Each gay man on Looking was a different type. What was missing in the show’s boring scenes was character and oddity.

The show often transcended its nature to deliver sweet, lovely, and interesting moments—a day-long date in season one, a trip to a funeral in season two—that said things about these people, not Gay People. But it also did a great deal of important work in its duller moments. Any show about gay life that follows Looking comes upon an audience who’s already been primed. Gay men who had been waiting too long to see themselves onscreen may not have liked this fact, but Looking was forced to do the work that, say, I Love Lucy was doing in depicting an interracial marriage in the 1950s.

Yes, we’re all more enlightened today than we were then, but that doesn’t mean that there’s an established language for conveying the subtleties of gay relationships onscreen. The disappointment over Looking, even if it’s often conveyed in a smirking, over-it manner, is inextricable from the fact that there are so few shows about gay people at all. (The Jamal plot on Empire has been a recent reason for hope, though it hews as closely as does Looking to fairly rudimentary signposts of the gay experience.) Looking proved a show about gay people could exist in a literal sense, and also that it could, at times, work dramatically.

Looking was often hamhanded. But its characters, hewing close as they did to type, got a lot out of the way for future TV creators. Patrick, the anodyne protagonist of Looking, got an on-camera HIV test and experienced burning anxieties over sex apps, and both of these moments felt rudimentary for audiences who styled themselves more sophisticated than the material. But now gay anxieties about sexually transmitted diseases and Grindr have been broadcast on a prestige network, and whatever is the next show about the lives of gay people can’t deal with those stories without seeming to rip off Looking. Instead, these future shows can, and surely will, reap interesting and provocative new stories on the ground tilled by HBO.

TIME Television

This New Iron Throne of Westeros Is Bigger Than Ever Before

But don’t expect to see this new version on Game of Thrones

The Westeros seat of power just got even more menacing. At theGame of Thrones premiere event in San Francisico on Monday, HBO debuted a bigger version of its world-famous Iron Throne at its after-party at City Hall. Standing 11’ high and 8’ wide, it eclipses the original version (that’s 7’ high and 5’ wide). This is a bit more in line with George R.R. Martin’s original vision for the infamously uncomfortable Red Keep throne room’s chair forged from the countless swords of Aegon Targaryen’s conquered enemies. Here’s Dean-Charles Chapman (who plays King Tommen Baratheon) checking it out:

Dean-Charles Chapman attends the after party for HBO's
Jeff Kravitz—Getty ImagesDean-Charles Chapman attends the after party for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” Season 5 in San Francisco on March 23, 2015.

For an even better sense of scale, here’s another partygoer getting swallowed up by the seat:


By comparison, this is the original Iron Throne, as demonstrated by Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark):

Actress Sophie Turner attends the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences an evening with HBO's
Jeff Kravitz—Getty ImagesActress Sophie Turner attends the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences an evening with HBO’s “Game Of Thrones” in Hollywood, Calif. on March 19, 2013.

But don’t expect to see this new version on the show (that would be weird if the Iron Throne just grew a few feet for no reason). For more Thrones premiere coverage, see Gwedoline Christie’s assessment of the upcoming season 5 and Maisie Williams’ red carpet survival tips. Thrones returns April 12.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

TIME Television

The Daily Show Reminds Us That Flying Cars May Exist Before Women Get Equal Pay

Kristen Schaal explains it all in a depressingly funny report.

A recent study predicts American women won’t earn the same amount of money as men until the year 2058 (other studies say it will take until 2100). Senior Women’s Issues Correspondent Kristen Schaal appeared The Daily Show to talk about a few items that will likely be in existence way before paycheck equality, including flying cars and travel to Mars.

Host Jon Stewart then pointed out that, much like equal pay, people have been talking about flying cars for years without making much progress. He asked her to give him a more realistic example, which she does in the form of a news clip showing a scientist unveiling a 3-D printed functional human heart. “You’re telling me we’re going to print a human heart out of a Xerox machine before women get pay equality?” Stewart asked. “No,” Schaal said, “I’m telling you we’ll print hearts 30 years before women get pay equality.” She suggests that women might be better off 3D-printing a different body part entirely if they want the same pay rate as men.

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