[*Clears Throat*] Actually, 'House of the Dragon' Won't Depict Sexual Violence

·3 min read

Nearly two weeks ago, House of the Dragon co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik caused an uproar when he commented that the new fantasy series would “pull back” from the amount of sex scenes featured in Game of Thrones, while still committing to depictions of sexual assault. Battle-scarred Game of Thrones fans, who lost faith in the series following its frequent brutalization of female characters, were outraged by the notion of less consensual sex and more graphic sexual violence. Now, House of the Dragon appears to be doing damage control, with Sapochnik shuffled off the stage and an executive producer speaking out to correct the record.

If you missed Sapochnik’s cringey comments, allow us to clue you in: he went on to say that House of the Dragon “won’t shy away from [sexual violence],” and that they plan to depict it “carefully and thoughtfully.” He continued, “If anything, we’re going to shine a light on that aspect. 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.” Coming hot on the heels of comments from author and serial procrastinator George R.R. Martin, who insisted that the misogyny in Westeros is historically accurate, no doubt this wasn’t the Comic-Con slam dunk that HBO expected.

Now, writer and executive producer Sarah Hess has stepped up to the mic. “I’d like to clarify that we do not depict sexual violence in the show,” Hess told Vanity Fair in a statement. “We handle one instance off-screen, and instead show the aftermath and impact on the victim and the mother of the perpetrator.” So, unlike Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon viewers will not actually watch scenes of sexual violence.

Hess continued:

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. 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.

It sounds like House of the Dragon is seeking to atone for the sins of Game of Thrones, where rapists, abusers, and well-meaning “nice guys” abounded. “In general, depicting sexual violence is tricky,” Hess continued, “and I think the ways we think about it as writers and creators are unique to our particular stories.” We’ll find out whether or not they got it right on August 21, when House of the Dragon wings its way onto televisions everywhere.

You Might Also Like