A writer and executive producer for House of the Dragon — the flashy new prequel for Game of Thrones — has confirmed it won’t show sexual violence onscreen. The bare minimum, but good!
Back in its heydey Game of Thrones was criticised for its gratuitous depictions of sexual violence.
It was pretty fucking grim and hey — you can actually have a fictional historical world controlled by men that doesn’t feature multiple violent sexual scenes.
Comments by showrunner Miguel Sapochnik indicated House of the Dragon might potentially be heading the same way.
In a discussion with The Hollywood Reporter, Sapochnik said the show “pulls back” on sex scenes, but they “don’t shy away” from violence against women.
“If anything, we’re going to shine a light on that aspect,” he said.
“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.”
Luckily though, executive producer and writer Sara Hess has now confirmed explicit sexual violence isn’t shown in House of the Dragon.
Hess released a verrrry lengthy statement to Vanity Fair explaining how violence against women will be handled onscreen.
“I’d like to clarify that we do not depict sexual violence in the show,” she said.
“We handle one instance off-screen, and instead show the aftermath and impact on the victim and the mother of the perpetrator.”
According to Hess, the show will focus on the structural violence of patriarchal societies.
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“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,” she said.
“There are many ‘historical’ or history-based shows that romanticise 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.”
Hess then went on to talk about the “insidiousness” of the patriarchal system on the show.
“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,” she said.
“It’s less obvious than rape but just as insidious, though in a different way.”
While it’s frustrating that sexual violence is still a big plot point for so many fantasy-slash-historical shows, I am interested (and tentatively hopeful) to see how House of the Dragon explores the harms of its patriarchal society.