With upcoming prequel series “House of the Dragon” premiering August 21, the history of the Targaryen clan is once again at the center of the “Thrones” universe, even after its sole surviving heir Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) had her fate sealed in the original series finale. The Season 8 ending subverted fan expectations and especially incited “social media backlash,” according to HBO and HBO Max content chief Casey Bloys.
“I think in multiple parts of our society, we are reminding ourselves that Twitter is not real life,” Bloys told The Hollywood Reporter. “We knew it was going to be divisive and, of course, you want all fans to be happy, but that’s never going to happen. There weren’t a lot of people walking around despondent or upset. It’s a take that reads well but probably doesn’t fully reflect viewer feelings.”
To now tell the history of the Targaryens comes with a new challenge.
“I liked the idea of focusing on one family, and obviously the Targaryens have a lot of drama to go around,” Bloys continued. “I also liked the echo of how empires can quickly fall — those are the types of conversations we are having in our own country, which I don’t think is anything I would’ve thought we’d be talking about 20 years ago.”
He summed up, “Shows are a product of their time, and there’s a lot more awareness now about what we’re portraying and why — and who’s having the conversations about it.”
“Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin further addressed the fan uproar over the end of the Targaryens after eight seasons in.
“The fucking toxic internet and these podcasts out there saying that season eight left such a bad impression that people say, ‘Oh, I’m never going to watch them again,'” Martin stated. “I don’t trust them anymore.”
Martin called “House of the Dragon” a “Shakespearean tragedy” with an even darker message and tone than “Game of Thrones.”
“There’s no Arya — a character everybody’s going to love. They’re all flawed,” Martin explained. “They’re all human. They do good things. They do bad things. They’re driven by lust for power, jealousy, old wounds — just like human beings. Just like I wrote them.”
“House of the Dragon,” though, has already received internet hate ahead of its release. Lead star Steve Toussaint, who plays Corlys Velaryon and marries into the Targaryen family, noted that he endured racist messages from so-called fans upon his casting announcement.
“I didn’t realize [the casting] was a big deal until I was racially abused on social media,” Toussaint told THR. “Yeah, that shit happened. I was just like, ‘Oh wow,’ and then I thought, ‘OK, so this means a lot to some people, but I can’t allow that to bother me.'”
Toussaint continued, “It’s a diverse world [George R.R.] Martin has created if you look [beyond Westeros], and I think this show comes closer to that.”