'Camelot' vs. 'Game of Thrones' vs. 'Borgias': Which epic TV series is best for you?

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TV is about to get medieval on your arse.

There’s three lavish premium cable drama series launching in April featuring more scheming, sword fights, ale toasting and bodice ripping than has almost certainly ever graced our televisions at one time. Below is EW’s guide comparing Starz’ Camelot, HBO’s Game of Thrones and Showtime’s The Borgias — three new shows about the struggle to claim (and keep) power in an exotic land. Even if you don’t know mutton from Mordor, this will help you tell the shows apart and you’ll learn which you’ll like best. Fair warning: While there are no real spoilers below, there’s basic details about the each show’s plot and characters that some may not wish to know…

Epic Show

Camelot Game of Thrones The Borgias
Premieres April 1 April 17 April 3
Based on
Arthurian legend George R.R. Martin’s novels History (sort of)
Setting England, a really long time ago
The mythical realm of Westeros, where seasons last for years Rome, 1492: “The Center of the Christian World”
Story starter Poisoned king sets off power struggle for throne Poisoned “Hand of the King” results in retired warrior being called back into service The pope dies (he’s not poisoned, but don’t worry, somebody gets poisoned)
Seat of power Camelot! A castle in ruins on the sea Kings Landing! A sprawling compound on the sea The Vatican! No castle, but lots of rooms that look like they’re in castles
Hero Young Arthur (newcomer Jamie Campbell Bower),  beds ladies in the grass but is destined for greatness How much time do you have? In this sprawling cast, the king’s friend Eddard Stark (Boromir, er, Sean Bean) comes closest Power-hungry Cardinal Borgia (Jeremy Irons, clearly enjoying himself) plots to become pope
Villain The king’s scheming power-hunger daughter (Eva Green) spent a decade in a nunnery and came back pissed Scheming power-hunger siblings (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Lena Headey) conspire against the king’s best interests A conclave of scheming power-hungry cardinals  want the Spanish Borgia family dead
Scene Stealer King Lot (a typically lusty James Purefoy), who teams with the king’s daughter Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), a drinking, whoring “imp” who’s always the smartest guy in the room Cardinal Rovere (veteran actor Colm Feore) who sees right through Borgia’s facade
Power Quote “From now on, everyone will challenge you” “Winter is coming” “What’s Rome without a good plot?”
Spectacle Level Medium. Gorgeous  countryside, horses High. Shot on location in Northern Ireland and Malta, looks like it cost a fortune Medium. Neat architecture and costumes, plus CGI
Geek Level
Low. As easy to follow as the jousting at Medieval Times High. Should come with a map, glossary and cast of characters Medium. There’s some papal terms, but you really should know them anyway
Incest Level Low. Sibling heirs only focused on the crown (for now…) High. There’s two pairs of siblings who are way too familiar with each other Medium. Siblings enjoy close gazes, cuddling, and bedroom spying
Magic? Merlin can perform shapeshifting, but he’s not fighting orcs or anything We’ll meet the zombie-like White Walkers, but most characters don’t believe in them No magic (unless you count how Romans in Hollywood always magically sound British)
Violence Relatively family friendly: A swordfight, a massacre site A gory beheading, dismembered bodies Lots of stabbings and poisonings
Sex Only one major scene in pilot, but has an Arthurian version of “Say my name!” Tons. Incest sex, reluctant sex, little person sex, sapphic grinding, party guest sex The naughtiest of all: Cheating Catholics
Watch if you liked Excalibur, A Knight’s Tale HBO’s Rome, AMC’s The Walking Dead Showtime’s The Tudors
Where’s the trailer? Here Here Here

Follow me on Twitter: @james_hibberd

Comments (151 total) Add your comment
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  • MWeyer

    As a fan of the novels, will be trying “Thrones” but looking forward to “Camelot” as well with Eva Green on it.

    • Gael

      LOVE eva green. that girl oozes fierce.
      thrones has my vote, though. im reading A STORM OF SWORDS right now, and god this series is fantastic.

      • The Jackal

        If your reading A Storm of Swords be prepared to throw the book across the room!

      • DMB

        @The Jackal-
        That is exactly what I did!
        Then I crawled across the floor, picked up my paperback, pulled it close to my chest, curled into a fetal position around it, and took a nap, because I was emotionally exhausted.
        And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      • The Jackal

        Can’t wait to have that feeling ten times over when I watch that scene unfold in 3 years when season 3 air and yes I am that confident this show will be picked up.

      • tania

        I caught the preview of Camelot on Starz and am now a huge Eva Green fan. Liked her in Casino Royale and loved her, em, showing off some of her best assets in Camelot. Yes, Mistress Morgan!!

      • Lady

        @Jackal and DMB: hahahahaahh! Thx for the laugh, I felt the exact same way!

      • Anthony

        A Storm of Swords, is the first book to make me have such a massive emotional reaction. I told people was done with the series. Of course I went back to finish. It is amazing.

      • W

        @ Everyone talking about Storm of Swords, same reaction here, I was actually peeeed off big time! Literally swearing at the book as i read it….

      • The Jackal

        Its like watching Jeremy Davies sit and cry on the stairs in Saving Private Ryan while whats his name gets stabbed, your just f&*(ing boiling at that point, but thats what makes it so great.

    • xxc

      After watching Borgias, I’d have to say the spectacle level is high. The sets and costumes are simply stunning. I was blown away.

  • Pam P

    I am pretty sure that the Borgia’s are not set in World War II Rome-Mussolini would have kicked their ass. You have a date typo in your chart.

    • Eli

      Not the only typo either…

    • Fisher

      That sounds epic. I would watch a Borgias-Mussolini crossover.

    • Jonathan Hinkle

      Maybe if you read it correctly, it says 1492, not 1942

      • who cares

        maybe they changed it in the 14+ hours that passed between your posting and Pam’s

      • thin

        Zing!

      • Sherlock Holmes

        Well said @who cares

  • Dave

    I kinda wish I could check out all three, but I don’t have Showtime or Starz. Fortunately I do have HBO and I’m very much looking forward to Game of Thrones. It looks fantastic. If word-or-mouth and reviews are good for Camelot and The Borgias, I may check them out on DVD later on.

    • Diddy

      You don’t have to wait for the DVD. you can go to the show’s website and watch them. that’s how i watched spartacus: blood and sand.

    • Erin

      You should sign up with Netflix, and find a way to watch it streaming. There are many devices with that capability: Tivo, Wii and a box that you hook up to your television, to name a few.
      I watched Spartacus via my Tivo, and I’m hoping that Camelot will also be available through Netflix.

      • JB

        Not anymore. Starz just pulled instant streaming from Netflix starting April 1st(it will be available after 90 days). JUST in time for Camelot. Nice. But I guess they decided Netflix is becoming their competition instead of a partner. I would like to see Camelot but I refuse to get Starz to do it.

  • Lauren

    thank EW. Very informative. You must do this comparitive tv watching thing again. The incest factor was a nice touch

    • Jenn

      But Arthurian legend has a high incest factor – why do adaptations always leave that out? It’s sort of a crucial plot point.

      • thin

        I think they’re going on early-first-season content in this comparison, not necessarily the entirety of the story.

    • Gabrielle

      You keep it up now, unedsrtand? Really good to know.

  • DRT

    Casterly Rock is not the seat of power in Game of Thrones. It’s King’s Landing.

    • Myprettypony

      Lol I was thinking the same thing

      • Ryan

        I thought the same thing and then referred myself back to the geek factor…

      • Ben

        Thank god someone quickly pointed that out, plus, Westernos? Still, Game Of Thrones FTW! the winner for sure, the Ice and Fire books are the best in the genre, and provide extensive and spectacular material for an HBO series, can’t wait for Clash, Storm and Feast…and Dance (someday…)

      • Markcb

        Ben, Dance of Dragons has been confirmed to be released on 12 July 2011. Yes, 2011, not 2021 XD

      • buffyluva

        yay! Dance of Dragons in July!!! Been waiting forever!!! Been reading these books since the nineties!

  • JOsh

    Game of Thrones FTW!!!

  • Sugee

    I am definitely watching Borgias simply because I’m a huge fan of Jeremy Irons. I might watch Camelot too because I have always had an avid interest in Arthurian legend.

    • ks

      I too will watch Bogias b/c of Jeremy. I am reading Game of Thrones-oh I wish I had HBO

    • James

      See Jeremy Irons chew scenery is a favorite pastime of mine. Plus, he plays bad so well, he is just GOOD.

  • Eli

    I think for most people the 2nd-to-last category (Watch if you liked:) will really decide things for them, or should at least.

  • Sweet

    You won me over with sex. HBO it is.

  • Kathryn

    I’m soo glad that you did this.I kept seeing commercials for all three and wasn’t sure which ones I should watch. Thankfully, they aren’t airing at the same times so I will try them all out and see. Coming into this article I knew the least about Game of Thrones….after getting to the “Watch if you liked…” section and seeing you compare it to Rome….SOLD!!!

  • Roger C.

    I saw the first episode of Camelot on the Starz website. It is awful. The kid who plays Arthur is a terrible actor. I fear this show won’t be around for long. Eva Green is wasted in this show.

    • lisi28

      I completely agree! Camelot has nothing on GOT!

    • debi

      watching borgias & game of thrones…camelot looks like child’s play…

  • JohnDoe

    Definitely Game of Thrones. Sean Bean is, and always was a bad***. Camelot looks like rubbish, and The Borgias looks interesting, but I’m burnt out on Roman history.

    • Marcus

      The Renaissance is vastly different from your Spartacus, Gladiator or Rome – trust me!

  • jane1982

    I only have showtime, so I guess I’ll have to wait for the other two to come to dvd.

  • amanda

    The series of books for Thrones is the best I have ever read!

  • Anna

    Based on this, Game Of Thrones sounds awesomest

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