Last month, the upcoming Game of Thrones series House of the Dragon came under fire after it was noted that the show would potentially be easing away from heavily sexual scenes, but still include scenes depicting sexual violence. According to writer and executive producer Sara Hess, though, that isn’t the case.
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“I’d like to clarify that we do not depict sexual violence in the show,” Hess said in an interview with Vanity Fair. “We handle one instance off-screen, and instead show the aftermath and impact on the victim and the mother of the perpetrator.”
The comments stem from a report from The Hollywood Reporter made late last month, where co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik noted that the writing team behind the series would not “shy away from” showing aspects of sexual violence.
At the time, many viewers assumed it to mean that more sexual violence would be filmed for the spin-off — something that wasn’t common in Game of Thrones, but was shown at times. However, Hess goes on to stress that, instead, the series aims to “focus on the violence against women that is inherent in a patriarchal system.”
“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,” said Hess.
“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.”
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Based on George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, House of the Dragon chronicles the rise and the downfall of the Targaryens, who are the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria. It will take place 300 years before the events of the award-winning series adaptation of Game of Thrones which aired its final episode nearly two years ago.