If THAT Sansa scene from season five of Game of Thrones made you feel gross or uncomfortable, then have no fear because the upcoming prequel series House of the Dragon will not depict sexual violence onscreen as confirmed by writer and executive producer Sara Hess.

This subject is being discussed at all because director and co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik told The Hollywood Reporter last month that the show “pulls back” on depictions of sex in the show when compared to its predecessor. Well and good, but what confused readers was that violence against women was very much still a part of the show, “[we] don’t shy away from it. 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.”

So there’s less sex, but there’s still sexual violence? You can understand why people were confused.

Sara Hess cleared things up to Vanity Fair,

“I’d like to clarify that we do not depict sexual violence in the show. We handle one instance off-screen, and instead show the aftermath and impact on the victim and the mother of the perpetrator.”

You will not have to see sexual violence in the show that much is clear. Hess elaborates and explains the reasoning behind this, “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.

“This is not done by those we would define as rapists or abusers,” Hess added, “but often by 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 normalises it. It’s less obvious than rape but just as insidious, though in a different way.”

Hess concluded, “In general, depicting sexual violence is tricky and I think the ways we think about it as writers and creators are unique to our particular stories.”

Author George R. R. Martin has responded to criticisms of his stories and why Westeros is intent on not having women on the Iron Throne, “I get inspiration from history, and then I take elements from history and I turn it up to 11. Game of Thrones is, as many people have observed, based very loosely on the War of the Roses. [House of the Dragon] is based on an earlier period in history called the Anarchy.”

He added,

“I don’t think Westeros is particularly more anti-woman or more misogynistic than real life and what we call history.”

House of the Dragon is based on George R.R. Martin’s fictional history of the Westeros, Fire & Blood. The show will debut on August 21 on Binge (HBO Max for Americans).

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