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  • House of the Dragon featured several instances of violence in its premiere.
  • Miguel Sapochnik believes the show tackles misogynistic violence “thoughtfully.”
  • Fans are mixed about the Game of Thrones prequel’s brutality so far.
Paddy Considine and Sian Brooke as Viserys Targaryen and Aemma Arryn in 'House of the Dragon,' which showrunner Miguel Sapochnik says approaches violence 'thoughtfully.' Aemma is in the tub, and Viserys is leaning over it from outside. They're both staring at one another.
Paddy Considine and Sian Brooke in ‘House of the Dragon’ | Ollie Upton/HBO

House of the Dragon recently made its debut, and like Game of Thrones before it, the HBO prequel is sparking conversations about its depiction of sex and violence. Game of Thrones was frequently accused of being gratuitous when it came to such matters. According to House of the Dragon showrunner Miguel Sapochnik, the prequel approaches such topics “thoughtfully.” However, after the premiere, fans aren’t so sure.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead for House of the Dragon Episode 1, “The Heirs of the Dragon.”]

‘House of the Dragon’ premiere features several instances of violence

House of the Dragon debuted on Aug. 21, and the Game of Thrones prequel delivered a premiere reminiscent of the original series. From the political maneuvering to the brutality, the prequel bears a striking resemblance to what came before. And the shows have similar premises, so that’s really no surprise.

But Game of Thrones was known for depicting violence and sex frequently, with some viewers criticizing the show’s approach to such matters.

Similar conversations are now cropping up in the wake of the House of the Dragon premiere, which features several instances of violence itself. From Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) mutilating criminals with help of the City Watch to King Viserys (Paddy Considine) agreeing to a medieval C-section for his wife — without her consent — there’s no shortage of disturbing scenes in episode 1.

Of course, not all violence is gratuitous. In some cases, it’s on-screen for a reason. House of the Dragon showrunner Miguel Sapochnik believes the Game of Thrones prequel falls into that category, tackling such subjects with purpose and consideration.

Showrunner Miguel Sapochnik believes the prequel tackles misogynistic violence ‘thoughtfully’

During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, House of the Dragon showrunner Miguel Sapochnik addressed the prequel’s approach to sex and violence. He noted that sex will be a less prominent part of the show than it was in Game of Thrones. However, he confirmed they “don’t shy away” from misogynistic violence. According to Sapochnik, they injected it “carefully” and “thoughtfully” throughout season 1.

“You can’t ignore the violence that was perpetrated on women by men in that time,” Sapochnik explained. “It shouldn’t be downplayed and it shouldn’t be glorified.”

House of the Dragon Episode 1’s controversial birth scene is one example of this, as it was intended to get a message across. Both Sapochnik and co-showrunner Ryan Condal have repeatedly drawn parallels between birth and the battlefield, with Sapochnik telling THR:

“In medieval times, giving birth was violence. It’s as dangerous as it gets. You have a 50/50 chance of making it. We have a number of births in the show and basically decided to give them different themes and explore them from different perspectives the same way I did for a bunch of battles on Thrones.”

Framed in that manner, Sapochnik and Condal’s approach makes more sense. Still, not all fans agree with it.

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Although Miguel Sapochnik believes House of the Dragon approaches violence “thoughtfully,” not all viewers agree. Fans are already split after the premiere, with some harshly condemning Aemma’s (forced birth scene. And in all fairness, HBO could at least have included a trigger warning.

But it wasn’t just the birth scene that left viewers wondering if all the violence was necessary. As Irish Mirror points out, gore from other key moments — like men having appendages removed and getting beheaded — sparked criticism as well.

Of course, Game of Thrones contained similar levels of brutality, so such things aren’t totally out of left field. We’ll have to wait and see if House of the Dragon continues to feature such disturbing moments.

House of the Dragon Episode 2 debuts on HBO on Sunday, Aug. 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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