“House of the Dragon” Will Not Show Sexual Violence

As opposed to “Game of Thrones“, “House of the Dragon” will not feature sexual violence against women, according to writer and executive producer Sara Hess.

Sara Hess, writer and executive producer of “House of the Dragon“, claims that unlike “Game of Thrones“, her television series will not feature sexual assault of women. The upcoming prequel series, which is based on George R.R. Martin’s 2018 novel Fire and Blood, will follow the events leading up to the end of House Targaryen, including the civil war of succession known as the Dance of the Dragons. It will take place 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones“. Who should sit on the Iron Throne will be the central conflict in “House of the Dragon“, just like its predecessor.

Viserys I Targaryen, the kind-hearted monarch who sits on the Iron Throne at the start of the series, is portrayed by Paddy Considine as the star of the “House of the Dragon” cast. The real conflict does not materialize until after the King’s passing, when Prince Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), Viserys’ firstborn son, challenges Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock/Emma D’Arcy), his firstborn child and designated female heir, over the throne. The Targaryen civil war, which is the focus of the prequel series, is sparked by this.

Hess discusses how “House of the Dragon” will handle its female characters, particularly in regards to its portrayal of sexual violence, in an interview with Vanity Fair that was recently published. The writer and executive producer of the show make it clear that, unlike “Game of Thrones“, only one instance of sexual assault against women will be addressed off-screen in “House of the Dragon“. Instead,  “the violence against women that is inherent in a patriarchal system” will be the focus of the program. Read Hess’ complete remarks below:

“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. 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.

There are many ‘historical’ or history-based shows that romanticize powerful men in sexual/marriage relationships with women who were actually not of an age to consent, even if they were ‘willing.’ 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. 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 normalizes it. It’s less obvious than rape but just as insidious, though in a different way. In general, depicting sexual violence is tricky and I think the ways we think about it as writers and creators are unique to our particular stories.”

The way “House of the Dragon” addresses violence against women contrasts sharply with that of its predecessor. The television show “Game of Thrones” was infamous for featuring numerous scenes of sexual violence. In fact, on the night of their wedding, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is raped by her Dothraki husband, Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), in the very first episode of “Game of Thrones“. In a similarly graphic scene from “Game of Thrones” season 5, Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) also raped Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) on the night of their wedding. For their excessive brutality, these scenes were frequently criticized.

It appears that “House of the Dragon” has taken note of the errors made by its predecessor and will not at all depict sexual violence on screen. The “Game of Thrones” prequel series will undoubtedly be more cautious and thoughtful about how it explores these issues, even though violence against women is a very real historical phenomenon that might not necessarily be overlooked in the fantasy genre. The HBO premiere of “House of the Dragon” later this month means that the wait is almost over.