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How women have influenced HBO's 'House of the Dragon'


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Geoff Bennett: HBO's House of the Dragon prequel to the popular Game of Thrones series is a massive hit setting records for HBO and averaging nearly 30 million viewers per episode.

And the series is drawing attention for its representation of women, gender, power and sexism are among the central themes and women are key both on screen and behind the camera. Ahead of the show's season finale tonight, Kim Renfro is with us. She's entertainment reporter for Insider and author of the Unofficial Guide to the Game of Thrones. Thanks so much for being with us.

Kim Renfro, Insider entertainment reporter: Thank you for having me.

Geoff Bennett: So this series has had women directors, cinematographers, female writers. We should mention, though, that the top line job titles creator and showrunner belong entirely to men. Still, though women are over represented behind the scenes as compared to Game of Thrones, how does it stack up? And from a creative perspective why does it matter?

Kim Renfro: Absolutely. I think what matters the most in this case is that House of the Dragon is an entirely different story that the show runners needed to adapt from author George R.R. Martin's writing. So with Game of Thrones, they were pulling from these very long, very detailed point of view character driven novels.

And with Fire and Blood, which is the book upon which House of the Dragon is based. Entire book was written by Martin as a sort of fictional history. And that fictional history itself was penned by fictional male characters. So it had a very male biased point of view to start with, and what Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, the show runners for House of the Dragon have done is made the choice from the outset to sort of rework the perspective that the audience is getting here and make a sort of correction to the history that was put forth in fire and blood. And they did it all from a very female centric perspective.

And so I think bringing in female directors and female writers and story consultants from the get go, really helped shape the story in a way that we're seeing the effects of and how people are responding to these female characters

Geoff Bennett: Well, tell me more about that. I mean, how has that been apparent in both the way that the characters are written, and the ways in which the storylines unfold?

Kim Renfro: Yes, for one, we're now almost finished with the first season and even before the season began, Miguel Sapochnik, and Ryan Condal. Both sort of let everybody know, hey, we aren't going to show any examples of sexual violence on screen for this series. They felt it was important to address the way that women are stripped of agency or controlled through patriarchal societies which Westeros the fictional society that George R.R. Martin created, is indeed a patriarchy.

So, instead of seeing simply sexual violence or assault or mistreatment against women unfold on screen, we are seeing scenes of childbirth, we are seeing scenes of women speaking with other women about a sexual assault that happened to them without having to actually witness the assault ourselves as the audience.

And Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal have both said that they were very intentional about wanting anything that involves assault, violence control over women in the story, to really have a point behind it, to have a very compelling story reason and not to be there to simply titillate in, in their words.

Game of Thrones kind of became known for this thing that was called sex position where often characters would deliver important information or context about what was going on, in a brothel scene, or in a place where they hoped the audience would be both paying attention to the sexy nudity going on. And also getting some information about characters. We haven't had scenes like that so far in House of the Dragon.

Geoff Bennett: Typically a replica of a thing is usually lower quality than the original. I mean, using your critical eye, how does House of the Dragon stack up against Game of Thrones, at least so far,

Kim Renfro: I think that they've been doing a phenomenal job of, like I said, telling a really different type of story. Game of Thrones was very sprawling, Benioff and Weiss, the show runners for Game of Thrones had the task of you know, showing multiple continents of activities, unfolding all at the same time and trying to kind of draw these threads together.

What House of the Dragon has going for it is a much more intimate scope of story. We're really only focusing on a handful of families. So many of the events are really only taking place in one of three locations. And so I think that, that intimacy and that ability to really stay with just a small group of characters episode to episode to watch scenes and the effects of choices unfold in real time as those episodes continue has been really cool.

And I don't think that I was expecting that from this prequel series, as you say, it could have gone in any number of directions. I think that a lot of people had a little bit of apprehension going into the prequel, wondering if it was really necessary to see a prequel the story being told.

And I think that what Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik have pulled off is proving that there is a reason to revisit this world in these characters and to really closely examine how women are treated in this society and how those systems either fail them or prop them up depending on how the power is swinging.

Geoff Bennett: Kim Renfro is entertainment reporter for Insider and author of the Unofficial Guide to Game of Thrones. Thanks again for your time.

Kim Renfro: Thank you so much.

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