House Of The Dragon Showrunners Reveal Game Of Thrones Spin-Off Written With Focus On Addressing Accusations Of Racism And Sexism Against Original Series
The first season of HBO’s House of the Dragon was written with a focus on addressing complaints against Game of Thrones' lack of diversity.
According to the showrunners for HBO’s House of the Dragon, the first season of the upcoming Game of Thrones spin-off was written with the intent of using its production as an outlet to address the accusations of sexism and racism leveled against the original series.
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The co-showrunning team of Miguel Sapochnik (Game of Thrones Season 6/8) and Ryan Condal (Rampage (2018)) provided insight into the writing process behind House of the Dragon during a recent two–part interview given to The Hollywood Reporter in promotion of the series quickly-approaching August debut.
Following an the telling of an anecdote wherein Condal allegedly rejected Sapochnik’s suggestion to change some characters’ names in order to facilitate their leap to the small screen, recalled in a less-than-believable effort to frame House of the Dragon as a faithful adaptation of series creator George R.R. Martin’s original source material, the former provided details on the pair’s mindset in approaching the world of Game of Thrones.
“I’ve been a fan of these books for 20 years,” claimed Condal. “I was a fan of Game of Thrones — I watched the pilot the night it aired on HBO and every episode after. You can’t follow Thrones, it’s The Beatles.”
“I’m setting out as a fan to make the thing I want to see, and I’m happy with what we’ve achieved,” he added. “The Targaryens are like the Jedi in Star Wars, where you heard about this time when they were plentiful and powerful and always wanted to see that. And now you get to.”
Turning to the subject of the series’ specific diversity and inclusion efforts, the two then revealed that midway through the development of House of the Dragon’s first season, the two realized that show they were unwittingly centering its story around the theme of how, as put by THR, “the patriarchy would rather destroy itself than see a woman on the throne.”
Elaborating on this realization, Sapochnik stated, “It wasn’t something where we said, ‘We must make the show about this’, but rather it’s something where we realized that’s what we had in front of us.”
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In an example of this theme, THR highlighted a production detail brought to light by Alicent Hightower actress Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One).
“There are times where [Rhaenyra Targaryen actor Emma D’Arcy] is on one stage and I’m on the other and we’re both surrounded by [male characters] being idiotic,” she asserted. “And we know if all these men just f–ked off, and it was just us two, the realm would be fine. It’s the meddling and the peacocking and egos that completely muddy everything.”
He further noted that another theme set to be explored was that of childbirth.
“In medieval times, giving birth was violence,” Sapochnick told the entertainment trade news outlet. “It’s as dangerous as it gets. You have a 50/50 chance of making it. We have a number of births in the show and basically decided to give them different themes and explore them from different perspectives the same way I did for a bunch of battles on Thrones.”
In service of this goal, he affirmed that the series also “pulls back” on the amount of sexual encounters depicted on-screen in comparison to Game of Thrones, choosing to instead focus more on the topic of violence against women, both sexual and otherwise.
“[We approached the topic] carefully, thoughtfully and don’t shy away from it,” said the co-showrunner. “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.”
Moving to address their goal of adding racial diversity to the ‘known world’ of Martin’s series, Condal confirmed that the two “knew from the outset that we wanted to change that conversation,” defending his casting decisions – most notably those which led to the race-swapping of House Velaryon – by arguing that “The world changed a lot between 2011 and 2021 and [so did] what audiences expect to see on camera.”
“The conversations Miguel and I had were: How do we create a diverse cast for House of the Dragon but still do it in a way that feels organic to the world and doesn’t feel like pandering or tokenism,” he said, “and also have them not be pirates, slaves and mercenaries like you tend to see in high fantasies?”
House of the Dragon premieres on HBO on August 21st, 2022.