‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Had a Bad Case of Sexist Writing
Alert: Major spoilers ahead.
Games of Thrones fans have spent over eight years carefully investing in the fate of the show’s characters, especially those who are believed to be the lead in Season 8: Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, Arya Stark, and Cersei Lannister, to name a few.
However, the penultimate episode has been a major let down for many fans. Apart from a lot of useless burning, a random duel and the uneventful death of two important characters, what really stands out is just how badly the characters, especially the women, have been written.
The franchise has never been known for its writing of female characters. Graphic rape scenes, two-dimensionality and vilification are just a few examples that go to show how wrong the writing of female characters can go when women aren’t writing them. It is as if an ambitious woman has no place in a realm where ‘all men must die’.
Cersei Lannister, for one, had so much potential. As a woman, her entire life has been about her father telling her what she can and cannot do. While Jaime was literally always a knight in shining armor, Tyrion never cared about the Iron Throne. However Cersei, who knew that in a world of men she couldn’t have direct power (well, not easily at least), never gave up on her ambition.
While her use of her male children to be the Queen Mother may be seen as her attempt to gain power, writing her actions off as things she did out of her love for her children seems rather reductionist right before the writers kill her off rather uneventfully.
The writers of season 8 seem to have never met a living, breathing woman at all, basing their characterisations on what they think a woman’s motivations might be.
And don’t even get me started on the disappointing character arc of Daenerys Targaryen!
For your garden-variety woman watching the show, it is evident that Dany is a woman who has been repeatedly let down by men. She has gone through 7 seasons, working up her strengths, building an army to put herself on the Iron Throne.
Now, as a female audience member, I really don’t care whether she’d be a good ruler or not because as far as I can see, the general filth in which the people of Westeros live signals to the fact that all the ‘rulers’ are more interested in the game of thrones, than actually governing a kingdom.
I frankly don’t think that any of us were ever rooting for any of the characters to sit on the throne because we felt like they would be great rulers.
Daenerys’ worry about people discovering Jon’s true identity was absolutely legitimate. And frankly, I’d be more than just a little pissed if I spent a large amount of my life building a name and army for myself, only to be told that a man would be taking over.
Dany is an ambitious woman who has her heart set on sitting on the Iron Throne. And since the show is literally called Game of Thrones, one really didn’t assume that anyone would get to sit on the throne just by asking nicely.
Bloodshed, in order to get to the throne, was imminent (and if one did not see that coming, one would be very foolish indeed). Under such circumstances, the Mad Queen trope was absolutely unnecessary.
It is more than evident that in order to survive in Westeros, a woman must be devoid of any ambitions for herself. Yes, now one may say that hey, you’ve got strong female figures in Sansa and Arya. But hold on, how did these women get here and what are the ambitions that have been written for them?
Sansa and Arya Stark
The only way Sansa became a woman worth a damn is through repeated sexual abuse, and Arya only became worthy once she literally became devoid of her sense of self.
Yes, of course Cersei and Dany have had their share of abuse, violence and injustice hurled their way. But what makes them different is that all that it did to them was make their personal ambitions stronger.
Westeros is clearly not a kingdom that was written for women. It’s a world where a woman with ambition may either die (like Cersei and Margaery) or become the Mad Queen — a trope that has, frankly, been around since Shakespearean times.
(This is a personal blog. Views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for them.)