“Game of Thrones” has a lot of potential, but the series may not live up to expectations.
The Game of Thrones prequel is set to release on August 21 and for the first time will showcase something never seen in the original HBO series: history already written. The action of the “House of the Dragon”, which is a film adaptation of the book by George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Blood takes place 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. The focus is on the Targaryen dynasty – the ancestors of Daenerys from the original show – during their reign over the Seven Kingdoms. The series is somewhat similar to the “Game of Thrones”: the struggle for succession to the throne, dragons, battles … Theoretically, it has all the elements that allow it to become a cultural phenomenon. But our current cultural environment could derail the show.
It’s hard to believe how successful Game of Thrones was and how disastrous the ending was. Public discussion focused on the show as the biggest cultural event of the past decade. People have even started naming their children after the characters and terminology of the show. But after the harsh criticism of the final season, the series seemed to not exist. Many attributed the failure to the fact that the books that the series was based on remain unfinished. The writers had some kind of very rough outline, but there was no book they could follow, and as a result the main characters and plot ended up being crumpled.
Luckily, House of the Dragon has new producers and new material. Unfortunately, identity and social justice are central themes of American cultural life. From Ghostbusters (2016) to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, remakes of old stories and franchises are replacing old white male characters with a more diverse cast (actually less white and less masculine characters). And it seems that such works have become a symbol of the era. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the producers made some disturbing comments that suggest that House of the Dragon isn’t immune to this kind of identitarian voyeurism either.
In order not to go into details and spoil the viewing of the show, I will only say that in the book “Fire and Blood” there are two opposing camps, one of which must inherit the throne after King Viserys. One of them is led by the king’s eldest daughter, Reynira, who has been declared heir. Her camp is called Black. And their rivals, the Greens, support the king’s son, Aegon, and his second wife, Alycent Hightower.
What should producers do in this situation? Who is the villain? Apparently men. As the article says, “Patriarchy would rather destroy itself than allow a woman to take the throne.” Olivia Cooke, who plays Hightower, said: “If all these guys back off… the kingdom would be fine. It’s all about their meddling, boasting and egos.”
But with an unbiased reading of “Fire and Blood”, you understand that the women in this whole story, especially Rainier and Alicent, are just as imperfect as everyone else.
Concerns about Rainier’s succession to the throne are justified, but they are not limited to sexism alone. In fact, the problem is what kind of character she has and how fit she is to rule. Questions raise not only the legitimacy of the rights of her heirs, but also the influence of Uncle Damon, who has earned a reputation for ruthlessness.
Of course, Alicente is actively working to get the Greens to act, but they also have their own problems that should not be downplayed or ignored. Aegon and his brother Aymond are not saints either. Ultimately, Rainier is declared the heir. That’s the beauty of history: men and women are complex creatures, so it’s very hard to tell which one is right.
In principle, the story of the difficulties that a woman in a leading position in medieval society could face could be an interesting topic for research. But in practice, in the modern world, such a story would pick up the idea of a left-wing army of downtrodden identity groups rebelling against very bad whites. A World of Ice and Fire might still be fantasy with dragons, ice zombies, and all sorts of Lovecraftian horror, but asking to override wokism ideas for the sake of neutrality is probably an impossible undertaking.
Martin seems to be happy with the film adaptation of his book. “They’re all imperfect. They’re all human,” he commented. “They do good things. They do bad things. They’re driven by lust for power, jealousy, old wounds, just like humans. That’s how I made them.”
If we do get a version with imperfect, fallen characters that look like real people, then the producers’ comments can be written off as cowardly but harmless indulgence. But we won’t know what the series will be like until it’s released.
In terms of politics, Game of Thrones does not fit in with current ideological divisions. The topics covered in it simply do not fit into the modern context. Yes, there was politics in it, but there was skepticism towards such issues that were raised in 1996, 2011 or 2022. Game of Thrones was a kind of escapism. If “House of the Dragon” is done well, it has every chance of becoming one of the best TV shows. But the key word here, quoting the Spartans, is “if.”