6:36am PT by THR staff
'Game of Thrones' Final Season Draws Backlash Over Portrayal of Female Characters
[This story contains spoilers for season eight, episode five of HBO's Game of Thrones, "The Bells."]
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has won the Iron Throne. On paper, it's about as happy an ending as Game of Thrones could possibly muster — but the surface details leave out all the fire, blood and character assassinations along the way.
The Mother of Dragons' conquest was at the heart of Game of Thrones' penultimate episode, "The Bells," from veteran director Miguel Sapochnik. The action-packed installment centers on Dany's increasing descent into madness, which boils over when she decides to raze the city of King's Landing to the ground rather than allow its people to surrender safely. Daenerys scorches thousands of helpless men, women and children, with much of the violence grounded in the perspectives of the victims. Meanwhile, Cersei dies in the arms of her brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), the two of them crushed beneath the ruins of the Red Keep, a swift end to a queen who was barely featured in the final season.
While Cersei was the only one of the two queens to actually lose her life, many Game of Thrones viewers see Daenerys' acts as nothing short of a character assassination, laying blame for the treatment of the Dragon Queen, Cersei and the series' other powerful women at the feet of creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss. Criticism regarding Daenerys' actions in "The Bells" follows recent backlash for season eight's fourth episode, "The Last of the Starks," in which Missandei of Naath (Nathalie Emmanuel), one of few persons of color on the series, was brutally beheaded in order to fuel the latest destructive arc.
Industry veterans and TV critics have reacted sharply in response to the storytelling decisions. Ahead, a selection of reactions to this past week's treatment of Daenerys and beyond:
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss just ruined 30 years of George R.R. Martin’s work in 90 minutes. They are obviously sexist fucks and obviously NOTHING without George R.R. Martin. There was no motivation for Daenerys to lay Kings Landing low after a lifetime of her saving innocents.— Megan Ellison (@meganeellison) May 13, 2019
I regret making a personal attack on the show creators. I aspire to be better than that. I don’t know if they are sexist but I don’t want to carelessly spread vitriol. The problem I have with last night’s episode isn’t the choice Daenerys made but the lack of set up for it.— Megan Ellison (@meganeellison) May 13, 2019
Weird how a show with no female writers or directors didn’t do justice to their female leads.— Sarah Schechter (@SarahSoWitty) May 13, 2019
Hey HBO, you got more than her coffee order wrong.— Caroline Dries (@carolinedries) May 13, 2019
Daenerys gonna need Constance Wu’s publicist. #GOT— Minnie Driver (@driverminnie) May 13, 2019
if you go back right now and watch the first 4 seasons of game of thrones. dany "turning insane" makes... NO SENSE. she faced so much hardship and held her own. the idea that she'd "go nuts" (whatever the fuck that means) 20 seconds before WINNING EVERYTHING is ???— sonia_saraiya (@soniasaraiya) May 13, 2019
The thing is, ON PAPER, the idea -- "All these victories/battles you were hoping to see will turn out to be horrible and meaningless" -- is fantastic. But it was missing the *why did this happen*, which is a pretty key element.— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) May 13, 2019
Even as someone who likes #GameofThrones in general, I can't help but think about how much better this show would have been if they'd had more women, poc, and woc writing and directing it. Just, every part of it would have been improved.— alanna bennett (@AlannaBennett) May 6, 2019
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss writing the storylines for female characters on Game of Thrones pic.twitter.com/ebuKzFvd8f— jon (@prasejeebus) May 6, 2019
let women write your fantasy TV.— lindsey romain (@lindseyromain) May 6, 2019