House of the Dragon team clarify comments show will 'depict sexual violence'

·3 min read
Photo credit: HBO
Photo credit: HBO

Note: The following article contains discussion of sexual misconduct that some readers may find upsetting.

Game of Thrones was known for its heavy dose of sex, violence and sexual violence. More than once, the show's depiction of the latter attracted criticism from several groups of television watchers.

The upcoming prequel series House of the Dragon was originally slated to "pull back" on sexual violence, according to showrunner Miguel Sapochnik in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. But in that same interview, Sapochnik seemed to say that the upcoming HBO show would still depict the brutalisation of women in some capacity.

"Violence against women is still very much part of the world," Sapochnik said, adding that the scenes in his show depicting such violence would be done "thoughtfully."

Photo credit: HBO
Photo credit: HBO

He continued: "If anything, we're going to shine a light on that aspect. You can't ignore the violence that was perpetrated on women by men in that time. It shouldn't be downplayed and it shouldn't be glorified."

However, House of the Dragon writer and executive producer Sara Hess recently clarified the show's stance on sexual violence in a statement given to Vanity Fair. In fact, she claimed the opposite to Sapochnik.

"I'd like to clarify that we do not depict sexual violence in the show. We handle one instance off-screen, and instead show the aftermath and impact on the victim and the mother of the perpetrator," Hess said.

Photo credit: HBO
Photo credit: HBO

"I think what our show does, and what I'm proud of, is that we choose to focus on the violence against women that is inherent in a patriarchal system."

Hess explained that many other historical shows often "romanticise" men in relationships with women "not of an age to consent."

"We put that onscreen, and we don't shy away from the fact that our female leads in the first half of the show are coerced and manipulated into doing the will of adult men," Hess said.

Photo credit: HBO
Photo credit: HBO

Related: House of the Dragon: Everything you need to know

The producer and writer continued: "This is done not necessarily by those we would define as rapists or abusers, but often by generally well-meaning men who are unable to see that what they are doing is traumatic and oppressive, because the system that they all live in normalises it. It's less obvious than rape but just as insidious, though in a different way."

In conclusion, House of the Dragon will include violence against women, perhaps even rape, in its storylines — but it will not explicitly depict these acts on screen. This is in contrast to Game of Thrones, in which there were several instances of rape shown on screen that were heavily criticised by viewers.

House of the Dragon premieres on August 21 and stars Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, Emma D'Arcy, Olivia Cooke and Rhys Ifans. The show is set 200 years before Game of Thrones and follows the Targaryen War of Succession, which was the beginning of the end for the mighty Westerosi house.

Game of Thrones seasons 1-8 are available on DVD and Blu-ray. Spin-off House of the Dragon will premiere on August 21, 2022 in the UK.

If you've been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information from Rape Crisis England and Wales, who work towards the elimination of all forms of sexual violence and sexual misconduct, on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.

You Might Also Like