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Even if you've never seen an illustration of Game the Thrones, there's no way you haven't been exposed come at least some Game the Thrones the past 5 seasons it's aired on HBO. At the very least, friend probably recognize this is a show that has dragons and also you probably know who Jon snow is. Game that Thrones has prided chin on gift a really adult, gritty fantasy show, each illustration checking turn off nudity and violence box in the TV-MA rating. Yet many red flags have actually been raised due to the fact that its start, because of its constant portrayal the violence against women, many of which feel gratuitous and have appeared to worsen over time. The first major no-no came two years ago, v the infamous, regularly debated Cersei and also Jaime Lannister incestuous rape—rape?—scene, a turning point that inspired the A.V. Club's "Rape of Thrones" piece. Due to the fact that then, the attack of female characters has to be ongoing, yet many viewers have the right to agree that Game the Thrones hit a low with Sansa's storyline. Last season, the show's beloved character Sansa was raped, yet what infuriated civilization even more was the reality that the devices of Game of Thrones chose to focus on the witness, Theon, a.k.a. Reek, and seemingly supplied a woman's rape together a point of distress or breakthrough for a masculine character.

Before the Season 6 premiere top top Sunday, April 24, we gathered a panel of esteemed woman TV movie critics to talk around their relationship with the show, exactly how the Sansa storyline changed their viewership, and also if and also why they still watch. 

The Panel

LaToya Ferguson (Freelance TV Writer, The A.V. Club/priziv.org/Guardian)Caroline Framke (Culture Reporter, Vox)​Alison Herman (Staff Writer, The Ringer; previously TV Editor, Flavorwire)Inkoo Kang (Chief TV Critic, MTV News)Allison Keene (TV Editor, Collider)Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya (Freelance TV Critic, The A.V. Club/The Hollywood Reporter; employee Writer, Autostraddle)​Lauren Leibowitz (Entertainment Editor, Thrillist; formerly Copy Editor, Vulture/New York Magazine)

Watching together a Woman


Alison Herman: I obviously have some problems with it, yet I quiet think it’s one of the best and most amazing shows on television. I wrote a piece defending it. When handled correctly, portraying violence versus women is in reality a really effective method of demonstrating sexism and also what the is like to navigate a human being that isn’t necessarily safe for you. That’s obviously true in the real world. It’s true in the fantasy world. The truth is that you see these characters who space not really identified by their victimhood. 

Allison Keene: The display introduced me come the books, i m sorry then priziv.org my connection with the show. There are aspects of its style and also storytelling and cast that I find compelling, however it is progressively unable to justify, in mine opinion, details narrative choices. It’s interesting due to the fact that so much around the ladies in the stories has been readjusted significantly from the books. For starters, Cersei doesn’t acquire raped by Jaime and also Sansa doesn’t acquire raped by Ramsay, i beg your pardon is then experienced by the viewer v Theon's pain end it. Really

Lauren Leibowitz: It just seems the they're unsparing in the anytime an animal gets hurt, it's off-screen. And also I don't know if that's intentional however respecting the animals much more than the ladies is quite dark as soon as you think around it. 

LaToya Ferguson: I found myself dreading watching episodes. Ns dreaded seeing another sexual assault, ns dreaded seeing a full-on boob assault, ns dreaded having actually to hear and also see all the conversation around the sex-related assault. 

Allison Keene: Westeros is set up mainly as a patriarchal society, though not exclusively. There are places (Dorne, Pyke, no to cite life throughout the narrow Sea) whereby that’s no true. Plus, the bottom line is that it’s a fantasy series. You don’t should adhere to medieval ideas about anything. And what’s much more troubling is the the display manages to add much more rape and also torture, greatly of women, than the books currently include. If you’re walk to do changes, how about something an ext interesting and positive? at the really least, portray strong female characters from the publication as solid characters on the show. 

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya: I execute admittedly watch other shows that deserve to be simply as graphic, like Outlander, which also has depicted sexual violence. Ns think the large difference is the it's no violence for the sake of violence. It's violence that forms the story and has discernible after-effects for the characters' arcs.​ I execute think several of the most violent scenes on the present have advanced the storylines for the masculine characters. But other times, the violence just seems to be part of the spectacle.

Inkoo Kang: As a viewer, I find myself significantly weary the the cartoonish nihilism of the show's universe, and numb to the repeated violence. Most human being were ruined by Shireen's sacrifice through fire last season by she father Stannis last season, but I felt nearly nothing. The show had already created a dead zone whereby my heart supplied to be. 

Are There solid Female Characters?


Allison Keene: While there have actually been a few positive changes, prefer giving Margaery more that a storyline, and Brienne her own extended adventure v Pod, so lot of it likewise feels prefer wasted potential to present some agency, particularly when it comes to the Sand Snakes. Oh, what a tragedy the was. In the books they’re these gibberish fighters native a land wherein women space equal come men, and also in the show, castle are lessened to bickering and also exposing your breasts (adding come the hugely unequal amounts of nudity ~ above the show). Their one hit scene to be a travesty. 

Alison Herman: I think a many the criticism of the was warranted yet you also see her—she’s a woman born into an aristocratic family and also the only method she is able come wield strength is by that she marries and she’s a mom to. I think a lot of the violence, or just straight up sexism, you check out women experience on the show is part of illustrating the character’s realities in a way that to add to their characterization. I think that often tends to go wrong once it is one of two people casual or mishandled. Because that example, Cersei Lannister ended up being the facility of this huge controversy because there’s this scene showing her sex-related assault. The creators didn’t believe it was sex-related assault. Cersei and Jaime are two characters, both of whom we have actually learned to have really priziv.org feelings about. Outside the show, it’s obviously mishandled by civilization being like, “I don’t know why that is rape.” yet in the present you check out a character attack someone. Climate the means Jaime is portrayed afterwards, it’s pretty clean you are claimed to view him as the hero or an ext on the development of being a far better person. It’s unfortunate that you don’t see any type of ramifications that it, either in Cersei or in the depiction of Jaime as much more of a failure protagonist.

Lauren Leibowitz: They have actually their solid moments... Daenerys is a pretty solid character. She's really powerful and they display her increase to power and how she gets every these civilization to it is in on she side. But she basically gets offered to this yes, really brutish male that she need to marry, and then she drops in love v him, however then that dies and her whole relationship is romanticized. 

They really press that come its limits. Lot of full-frontal mrs nudity. No masculine nudity.

Alison Herman: There’s a scene last season once you room in the North and also they walk into a room and also the poor guys space in control. You literally view women gift raped in the background. Friend don’t understand their names. You’ve never been introduced to their struggle before. Girlfriend don’t watch them afterwards. 

That Sansa Storyline...


Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya: The means the scene of Ramsay raping Stansa is filmed shows that this display doesn't yes, really seem to understand or care about the pain the inflicts ~ above women, situating viewers in Theon's point the view rather than hers. 

Caroline Framke: The means they shot that scene is what do me really aware that the show's top priorities (especially after castle DIDN'T even REALIZE they had shot a rape scene v Cersei/Jaime beforehand). The totality episode was a drumroll come Sansa's rape, which to be then drawn out because that maximum shock. Lock knew exactly what they to be doing, manipulating that minute to gain the most possible pain, and also I just sat there going, "Why the hell am I putting myself with this if i don't have to?" I don't think I'll ever before be excited about Game that Thrones the means I supplied to be. 

Inkoo Kang: Sansa's rape to be shocking, but only since she's a young character us know and are invested in. It's commonly the women on the show's spare part that are sexually assaulted. Ns was much more offended through the spectacle the Cersei being humiliated, naked, and spat on in the Season 5 finale, due to the fact that it walk on and also on and also on and on and also on. Ns guess I'm a bigger Cersei fan than I thought.

Alison Herman: I definitely think Sansa is still one of the much more interesting personalities on the show. Ns don’t think her development is over, but I can’t really speak to what ns think is walk to take place with her or anyone else. I still trust the show enough to think the she’s not going to become a two-dimensional prop. 

Is all Violence top top the display Gratuitous?


Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya: I carry out think the violence against women has actually been gratuitous due to the fact that the beginning and also has only obtained worse end time. There are methods to tell stories about sexual violence, however Game that Thrones place much much more of focus on horror rather than emotion. Game of Thrones isn't making any kind of attempt to tell real stories about sexual violence or to show the psychological and emotional after-effects survivors walk through. It's not just that Game that Thrones is gratuitous; it's completely ignorant that trauma.

Alison Herman: I think it gets progressively much more gratuitous as the collection goes on. It’s had actually five entirety seasons. After ~ a particular point, you are not really proving anything as soon as you room like, “Wow. It really sucks for women.” It’s not including anything new to audience’s understanding. Ns wouldn’t walk so far as to say that all violence of females on that show is gratuitous. I carry out think the show has acquired less great at deciding what provides a point and what is piling on. Ns think it’s flipped a couple of times. I think it’s a crude expertise of violence. Yet I think it has, top top balance, to be a really interesting show. I’m not ready to discount it based upon a couple of incidences that ns think room rightfully criticized, yet don’t yes, really discount the display as a whole. 

Inkoo Kang: The violence doesn't it seems to be ~ gratuitous in the context of the show; it's very intent on developing a grim, dark version of the medieval Ages. 

Caroline Framke: I yes, really hesitate to ceiling ban any type of storyline from being told. I really dislike watching violence versus women onscreen yet I can't deny that TV's told part really powerful stories around that subject. Shows prefer The Americans, Mad MenVeronica Mars, and Buffy have displayed violence versus women, yet made it and the women's reactions climate an integral part of the story. Those women weren't raped, abused, berated for no reason. It educates their characters, and also it sticks with them beyond any solitary scene, together it should.

But top top Game that Thrones... Man, i don't know. I don't think George R.R. Boy name was specifically concerned about how that was illustrating violence versus women in the books beyond "everything is horrible for everyone," and that has actually inevitably bled into the show. The trouble I have actually with Game of Thrones is much less that awful things occur to ladies than when horrible things happen to women, they're filmed for shock value, and there's frequently very little use in that story past how horrible it is. Occasionally they'll acquire a rapid moment of triumph, however the show feels grounding in its very own misery spiral, and for me, ns couldn't stomach watching much more sexualized violence onscreen as soon as it appeared to me that there to be very tiny reason—narrative or character-wise—to it is in doing it. In retrospect, we probably should've known something was up when the show determined to incorporate Robb's pregnant wife in the Red Wedding massacre, and also show united state someone stabbing she stomach right into pieces, i beg your pardon wasn't also in the book. 

Lauren Leibowitz: The violence feeling gratuitous. You have the right to still understand how damaging these characters are even if lock scaled back the violence against women. 

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya: Game of Thrones isn't telling a particularly compelling or well-developed story v its violence. The display uses violence because that world-building yet on a very surface level. The violence is part of that is world, yet the display often falls short to justify why. 

Will the Showrunners Tone under the Violence against Women?


Lauren Leibowitz: I think it's part of the identity. Ns don't think it will certainly change. 

LaToya Ferguson: I don't think the showrunners made any kind of promise of together a thing. They to be vehement that Cersei was no raped.

Allison Keene: The worst part is the these damaging acts of sexual violence room drowning out some other really an excellent aspects the the series. My inquiry to the showrunners would be: Why would you continue to threaten your own job-related like that?

Inkoo Kang: I lost belief that the showrunners knew what story they to be telling once they couldn't recognize Cersei's rape by Jaime for what it was . Benioff and Weiss and the episode director claimed it wasn't rape, suggesting that Cersei consented midway v the scene, but that's not actually what finished up on screen. In Season 1, i felt prefer the violence versus women felt moral in a sense. If you're a dethroned princess like Daenerys, because that example, you more than likely were traded like a commodity because that your household line—that felt like an essential corrective to the princess fetishization in the rest of our pop culture. But over the years—with the sex scenes, the gratuitous rapes, the lack of engagement about what sexual trauma means, and also my final straw the Cersei's rape—I gave up on acquisition the display seriously through regard to gendered violence. ​

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya: In many instances now, the writers have altered scenes native the books to be much more horrifying and also misogynistic. Why? How deserve to anyone justify a creative decision that basically quantities to adding much more rape? 

Alison Herman: I don’t think they’ve really responded come the debate too much. Frankly, i understand. They are in charge of among the best international productions continuous today. I would hope the they space approaching violence in the direction of women or also violence in basic with a kind eye in the direction of what it in reality adds or doesn’t. 

Do girlfriend Still Watch? Why or Why Not?


Caroline Framke: I stopped watching Game the Thrones after that Sansa episode. It's not like I to be surprised, though. The show's been horrific and graphic and brutal towards everyone due to the fact that day one. Ns love Sansa and also hated the town hall that. 

Lauren Leibowitz: I've been having to read about it for years now and I stood up to watching because that a lengthy time, however now i really have to watch for work. 

Alison Herman: What i love around the present is the it brings a real priziv.orgity to a genre the is often not credited for being specifically sophisticated and also does therefore in a means that ns think elevates a potential for that genre. Ns think it does that based upon the depth that its woman characters, ~ above the manufacturing value, ~ above any variety of things. It’s still as well interesting and also exceptional the a display to compose off, however I think it’s healthy and balanced to approach something v skepticism and also to contact out something as soon as it hasn’t lived approximately the criter it established for itself.

See more: Female Teachers Who Sexually Abuse Their Students, 500 Female Teacher

LaToya Ferguson: I battered in the middle of Season 4 (episode 5 was mine last, i believe). The wasn't so lot that a particular storyline make me quit. 

Allison Keene: I watch because there space still things about it I carry out like, however I likewise watch since it's my task to keep up. This season, I’m quite interested come see exactly how the display will pivot now that it doesn’t (for the most part) have actually the books as source material. However HBO not sending out screeners to press this year has actually me suspicious—maybe it’s no really a piracy issue, however rather, due to the fact that there’s some much more controversial, violent sexual content in the an initial episode, or shortly after? so I proceed with a wariness, and also some fatigue, despite I’m sure there will still be moments that are payoffs from the books and also from the all at once story that will save me invested.

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya: I battered watching ~ Jaime raped Cersei. I gained sick of people balking in ~ the fact that i am a TV movie critic who doesn't watch GOT so I began watching again. Ns quit again near the end of critical season as soon as the Sansa stuff walk down, and also I intend to remain committed to quitting this time since I no longer give any type of fucks about outside push to store watching. 

Inkoo Kang: I'm still interested in what happens with the characters. There's something favor 450 characters and the majority of them room men, and also their storylines room interesting sufficient to keep going. The other, equally boring answer is that it's my job to watch Game of Thrones together a TV critic. It's the many popular show on TV appropriate now. ​