In a Hollywood Reporter interview last month, “House of the Dragon” co-showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik said that the “Game of Thrones” prequel series will not “shy away” from violence against women.
However, now writer and executive producer Sara Hess is clarifying those comments about the “reimagining” of George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood,” premiering August 21.
“I’d like to clarify that we do not depict sexual violence in the show,” Hess told Vanity Fair. “We handle one instance off-screen, and instead show the aftermath and impact on the victim and the mother of the perpetrator.”
Hess continued 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 explained. “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.”
While “House of the Dragon” will include rape and sexual assault, the acts will not be shown gratuitously.
“In general, depicting sexual violence is tricky,” Hess admitted, “and I think the ways we think about it as writers and creators are unique to our particular stories.”
The 10-episode “House of the Dragon” is set 200 years prior to the events of “GoT” and centers on a civil war that split the Targaryen clan apart.
Author George R.R. Martin recently addressed criticisms of the HBO series’ female representation during San Diego Comic Con.
When asked why the rulers of Westeros seem intent on not having a queen atop the Iron Throne, Martin responded that the series is rooted in historical fact.
“I get inspiration from history, and then I take elements from history and I turn it up to 11,” Martin explained. “‘Game of Thrones’ is, as many people have observed, based very loosely on the War of the Roses. [‘House of the Dragon’] is based on an earlier period in history called the Anarchy.”
He added, “I don’t think Westeros is particularly more anti-woman or more misogynistic than real life and what we call history.”