Ollie Upton/HBO Max
House of the Dragon has officially been renewed for season 2!
The Game of Thrones prequel is on the fast track to its sophomore season, HBO Max announced on Friday. According to the announcement shared with PEOPLE, Sunday's debut episode, "The Heirs of the Dragon," earned the largest audience for any new original series in HBO history with more than 20 million viewers in the U.S. alone. (In fact, the excitement for the series was so high, HBO Max briefly crashed on Amazon devices.)
"We are beyond proud of what the entire House of the Dragon team has accomplished with season one," Francesca Orsi, Executive Vice President of HBO Programming, said in a statement to PEOPLE.
"Our phenomenal cast and crew undertook a massive challenge and exceeded all expectations, delivering a show that has already established itself as must-see-TV," she continued. "A huge thank you to George, Ryan, and Miguel [Sapochnik] for leading us on this journey. We couldn't be more excited to continue bringing to life the epic saga of House Targaryen with season two."
Set roughly 200 years before Game of Thrones' eight-season arc, House of the Dragon is yet another tale about the endless struggle to determine who gets to occupy the Iron Throne.
This time, though, the show focus on the squabbles within the house of Targaryen, the dynasty that will ultimately produce Game's Daenerys Targaryen. Like her, the Targaryens have long white-blond hair and look like a medieval line of Barbies. King Viserys (Paddy Considine) wants a male heir, but a son perished, forcing him (reluctantly) to consider his young daughter Rhaenyra as successor.
As played in the first five episodes by Milly Alcock, Rhaenyra is astute, cynical and clear-eyed, smiling politely while sizing up her chances. She should be handed the keys to every castle, dungeon and pantry in the kingdom. Plus the throne.
As critics unveiled their reviews on House of the Dragon, opinions of the fantasy epic were mostly positive, but not every element of the show is garnering praise. (Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes shows House of the Dragon at 83 percent. The audience score was similar at 86 percent.)
Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter said, "HBO has ended up with a show that feels reverse-engineered to give devoted Game of Thrones fans a facsimile of what they liked about the original series, while casual Game of Thrones fans get … ummm … lots and lots of dragons. I mean, it's right there in the title, House of the Dragon, which I can only assume supplanted the original Game of Thrones: Oops, All Targaryens!"
Entertainment Weekly gave the show a "B" rating, saying it is "the blandest possible orientation, Epic Fantasy for Dummies."
Critic Darren Franich said, "Dragon has more of a clear mission than its bi-continental predecessor and a much-stated central theme. 'Were I born a man, I could bed whoever I wanted!' declares Rhaenyra, when a whole episode revolves around Red Keep [gossip] about who's boning who.
"Rhaenyra and Alicent both get imprisoned by cultural expectation, pimped out by dads for high-status matches. We're a long way from adoring crowds cheering for Khaleesi. Instead, there's a constant argument that the country will rebel against any matriarch out of pure dick-ishness. (Since Dragon has a more diverse cast, this makes Westeros a paradoxical neverland that is openly sexist and completely un-racist.)"
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The first season of House of the Dragon will consist of 10 episodes and premieres Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, season two does not yet have a premiere date.