Yes, winter is coming, but this spring, Canadians will be able to legally stream Game of Thrones without a cable subscription. Crave (formerly Crave TV), Bell Media’s Netflix competitor, just added an extended package that includes all HBO and Showtime content, including new episodes and a feature called On Air that allows you to watch shows from those networks as they air on TV before they show up in the on demand menu.

You have to get the basic Crave subscription at $9.95 a month and then add the extended package for another monthly $9.95, so $20 a month plus tax for HBO and Showtime, plus a bunch of recent movies (including what looks like all of last year’s Best Picture nominees), shows like Star Trek Discovery, and original content like Letterkenny. There’s even a very interesting back catalog with classic sitcoms like Cheers, but no Night Court…like c’mon, someone pick up Night Court, please. 

It’s currently available on computers and mobile devices and will be available on Samsung Smnart TVs, Apple TV and other platforms as of November 15th. From the looks of it, it’s a better deal than Netflix.

While I’m clearly gleefully plugging this product, this article is not sponsored content, but rather rare editorial praise for Bell Media from a frequent critic. It looks like they have finally embraced the way a good chunk of the population consume TV and have stopped trying to push an old model on those who clearly don’t want it.

Even as HBO made all of their content available, with no strings attached, through their GO app in the US a few years ago, Bell, which owns the Canadian rights, refused to see the light. Sure, they made an app, too, called TMN GO, but you had to get a cable or satellite TV package first and then subscribe to HBO Canada on TV before you could pay the ten or so bucks for it.

So basically, in a lot of cases, the choice was pay over $100 a month on top of the cost of an internet connection to watch one show or risk getting an angry letter for illegally downloading it. Yes, HBO is much more than GOT, but that show’s the hook for people living in a post-cable world.

Bell was effectively ignoring a potentially huge market that they could easily get with no risk of losing the cable and satellite market they already have as a result. My friend’s parents who have been paying for a satellite package and HBO for years aren’t going to cut the cord just because the same content is now available in another format.

Meanwhile, people who don’t give Bell Media any money but still consume the content might be inclined to pay and go legit if presented with a reasonable offer and become customers Bell wouldn’t have any other way. Now, it looks like Bell Media has finally accepted and embraced that fact.

This will only help them promote original content, too, as it will now be running on the same platform as really popular shows. Come for Game of Thrones, stay for Letterkenny.

The future is an internet subscription and two to four streaming services. With the Crave expansion, Bell Media clearly wants a part of that future. Now if only they could add Night Court.

Less than five minutes into the pilot of the new Showcase drama Masters of Sex and we’re already observing a couple going at it doggy style from the closet of a seedy-looking brothel. Based on the influential biography by Thomas Maier Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love, the new hit show follows the ob-gyn and his protégé who became pioneering researchers into the study of human sexuality in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Before the scientific study of sex was a socially acceptable practice, Dr. Masters, played with a calm and collected confidence by Michael Sheen, had to find his research subjects wherever he could. Without official permission from his university, he resorts to paying prostitutes not for their services but for their secrets. In an early scene from the pilot, Masters’ scientific curiosity seems clouded by his astonishing naivety, likely a product of the period of his upbringing. He questions why a woman would fake an orgasm and whether it’s a common practice of prostitutes, to which his subject replies in a blasé manner that “it’s common practice amongst anyone with a twat.”

When Masters realizes he’ll truly need a female perspective to crack the code of understand human sexuality, he teams up with the sexually liberated Virginia Johnson, played exuberantly by Lizzy Caplan. The twice-married (and twice-divorced) single mother isn’t afraid to speak candidly or frankly about sex, a very unusual quality for a woman in 1958. She stands out from other female characters on the show, notably Masters’ wife who creepily refers to him as “daddy”, as if that would somehow aid in their feeble attempt to conceive.

Masters_of_Sex_59494 “I love the idea of using the notion of trying to understand sex in a scientific way as a way to understanding love and intimacy and relationships, which is really what our show is all about,” said showrunner Michelle Ashford in New York Magazine. “It was a trip to explore how much changed since the late fifties and to explore how much has not changed since the late fifties.”

This highly stylized drama draws an immediate Mad Men comparison for its time period setting, but that’s about where the similarities end. For one thing, it’s definitely quite a bit steamier, and many people admittedly will be watching for the sex, which is done with the usual funny flair of other Showtime hits like Weeds.

The writers decided not to romanticize the deed, opting instead to depict the awkward, funny and harrowing qualities of laboratory voyeur sex, both for those taking part and those just watching. If they continue to deliver such intriguing dramatization on historical attitudes towards sex that make for an interesting commentary on how far we’ve come since the landmark study, viewers will definitely be salivating for more.