This is the third of three posts that have been created by a guest writer for HBOWatch. If what’s offered is seen favorably then ERICA SCASSELLATI will soon be a permanent writer for the site. Good luck, Erica!
Game of Thrones released its series ﬁnale on May 19, 2019. Three years later the franchise returned with House of the Dragon.
The prequel series tells the story of the Targaryen civil war, where Viserys I’s children battled for control of the Iron Throne. House of the Dragon’s premiere episode drew 2.17 million viewers. Though that’s less than the Game of Thrones premiere, the prequel series is already proving superior in a number of ways.
First, let’s get a discussion of GoT’s disastrous ﬁnal season out of the way. Though GoT is based on the works of George R.R. Martin, the series soon surpassed Martin’s novels in the timeline. This left the creative minds behind the show to create their own ending, and fans did not like it in the least.
After losing those closest to her, Daenerys Targaryen burned King’s Landing to the ground before Jon Snow stabbed and killed her. Brandon Stark took up the Iron Throne, while Sansa became Queen in the North and Jon returned to the Night’s Watch. The GoT ﬁnale is widely hated, and many fans felt that the series rushed to wrap up loose ends. The story told in House of the Dragon, however, has already been fully written and so has the chance to give a much more satisfying ﬁnale.
So far, we have only seen one season of HOTD, but the prequel has done a lot to right some of the wrongs done by GoT. One of the most difficult things to stomach in GoT is its graphic depictions of sexual assault and overuse of nudity. Additionally, the way Game of Thrones depicted women left much to be desired.
Taking steps in the right direction, House of the Dragon added an intimacy coordinator to the show’s crew, which GOT reportedly did not have.
“Game Of Thrones had a negative reputation – which they’ll admit — in terms of the press and the #MeToo movement, and with Emilia Clarke and other actors talking about how difficult and gratuitous it could be at times, and how much pressure they felt,” HOTD intimacy coordinator Miriam Lucia said in an interview with Deadline “So, I think what you get on House Of The Dragon is not only a production team that are sensitive to that, but you get a cast that is very aware of it and careful about what they will agree to. That precedent had been set” she continued.
House of the Dragon holds off on showing much sex or nudity until episode 4. Daemon takes Rhaenyra to a brothel in Flea Bottom, where they nearly engage in sex. Instead of making Rhaenyra a passive player in this scene, HOTD shows her interest and excitement in her first sexual experiences and highlights the female gaze.
“Directing scenes like that can be really difficult. It’s a big responsibility and it’s important to shoot it from the right point of view,” episode director Claire Kilner said in an Inside the Episode video from HBO.
“Now we’re at a point where we’re like, ‘No, what is a woman’s point of view here?’ And it was really important for it to be a scene where people were equally enjoying themselves and freeing themselves from the constraints that they’ve been living in.”
Though Daemon tries to get the upper hand, Rhaenyra’s reaction isn’t what he expected.“He thinks it’s shocking to her, but she doesn’t just get shocked, she gets excited by it, ”Kilner added. “I think what it’s saying there is that young women want sex as much as young men.”
Later in the episode, Rhaenyra sets her sights on Ser Criston Cole. Rhaenyra and Criston’s chemistry is palpable, despite the later disintegration of their relationship.
Game of Thrones is a beloved series, but its depictions of women and sex left a lot to be desired. House of the Dragon gives women agency and explores their sexuality in a much more palatable way.
There’s plenty more to praise about House of the Dragon, from its compelling storyline to stellar casting. With all this in mind, the prequel series might just be better than the original.
Do you agree or disagree?