Following a record-breaking premiere on August 21, “House of the Dragon” landed an early renewal at the network on August 26. The first episode debuted to the largest audience for any new original show in HBO history, including besting the “Game of Thrones” series-premiere ratings. Ten million viewers tuned in “live” for the premiere; that initial number has since doubled with less than one week of catchup viewing across multiple platforms, according to HBO.
Based on George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood,” the series is set 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones” and tells the story of House Targaryen. The ensemble cast includes Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Fabien Frankel, Sonoya Mizuno, and Rhys Ifans. Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik serve as the “House of the Dragon” showrunners.
“We are beyond proud of what the entire ‘House of the Dragon’ team has accomplished with Season 1,” Francesca Orsi, executive vice president of HBO Programming, said. “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. A huge thank you to George, Ryan, and Miguel 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 2.”
The series boasts a more diverse cast than “Game of Thrones” and also contextualizes sexual assault and violence onscreen. Writer and executive producer Sara Hess previously explained that she is most “proud” of the fact that “House of the Dragon” chooses to “focus on the violence against women that is inherent in a patriarchal system” instead of glossing over its effects and devastating legacy.
“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,’” Hess said. “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.”
She added, “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.”
“If the prequel series satisfies the franchise’s loyal, expansive fanbase, well, it’s built to do just that,” Travers penned. “If it doesn’t, there will undoubtedly be further attempts. Perhaps enough distinctive creativity will emerge in later episodes to let this ‘House’ stand on its own, or perhaps such bravery can only be found as a last resort. Time will tell, but courage is always needed. Otherwise, all there is to do is sit and stare, as the day turns ugly, yet again.”