Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth
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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

How Much Sex Will There Be on ‘House of the Dragon’? We’re Hearing Conflicting Accounts...

However much or little intercourse is had, let’s hope at least some of it is friendly to the perennially neglected female gaze.

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Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon is premiering on August 21, and showrunners and cast members can’t seem to get their story straight about whether or not the show has too much sex. Mere weeks after showrunner Miguel Sapochnik told The Hollywood Reporter that the HBO Max show would “pull back” on the original’s famed, extensive catalog of sex scenes, actor Matt Smith, who plays Prince Daemon Targaryen, offered a pretty conflicting account to Rolling Stone.

“You do find yourself asking, ‘Do we need another sex scene?’” Smith told the magazine. “And they’re like, ‘Yeah, we do.’” When explicitly asked about the amount of sex scenes in the new show, he said, “Slightly too much, if you ask me. I guess you have to ask yourself: ‘What are you doing? Are you representing the books, or are you diluting the books to represent the time [we’re living in]?’ And I actually think it’s your job to represent the books truthfully and honestly, as they were written.”

This, mind you, comes after The Hollywood Reporter reported the following last month:

Sapochnik says the production also “pulls back” on the amount of sex in the series while adding glimpses of how sex is a nonchalant aspect of Targaryen life.

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I guess we’ll have to wait and see just how much sex is actually had in the Game of Thrones spin-off series, which focuses on the legendary Targaryen ancestors to Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, and is also based on books by author George R.R. Martin. But until the show starts streaming, there are some slightly more pressing concerns.

After Sapochnik confirmed that House of the Dragon will portray sexual violence last month, executive producer Sara Hess offered some important clarifications last week. “I’d like to clarify that we do not depict sexual violence in the show,” Hess said. “We handle one instance off-screen, and instead show the aftermath and impact on the victim and the mother of the perpetrator.” However, she added that the sex scenes “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.”

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A common and important critique of the original show was its gratuitous, graphic, and dehumanizing depictions of sexual violence and violence against women. The show’s male writers and Martin himself justified this decision by emphasizing the importance of historical accuracy, despite how the show is a fantasy series with dragons. To Hess’ point, it sounds like progress that the show won’t depict on-screen rape—and I hope on top of this, it explores more women characters whose stories don’t center around gender-based violence and what men have done to them.

In any case, sex scenes and rape scenes are entirely different from each other—though both can very much speak to gender-based power dynamics. While Smith and Sapochnik’s comments make it unclear just how many sex scenes we’re in for, let’s hope at least some are friendly to the perennially neglected female gaze.