When Game of Thrones first came on the scene, it was criticized for its excessive use of female nudity, with critics Myles McNutt even coining the term “sexposition” to describe the show’s habit of filling the background with naked bodies to distract the audience when a character needed to exposit about something. (The gold standard of this remains the scene in season 1 where Littlefinger talks about his past while a pair of prostitutes writhes around practicing sex acts on each other.)
Has that changed over the years? According to Sara David of Broadly, yes. David did an exhaustive study of women’s representation in Game of Thrones, and came to some very interesting conclusions. But first: the nakedness. Here’s how much the show included season by season:
So in season 7, the level of nudity on the show suddenly became much more egalitarian. David surmises that this is because, with the pace of the story speeding up, there’s less time for leisurely expository scenes set in brothels. in season 7, we only couples naked: Grey Worm and Missandei; Cersei and Jaime; and Jon Snow and Daenerys.
David’s study goes well beyond that — she also tabulates the number of rapes and attempted rapes in the show, the number of female characters killed onscreen, and the number of episodes that pass the Bechdel Test, which asks whether a given work of fiction features a scene where two women talk about something other than a man. It’s used as a litmus test to determine if female characters have an active role. According to David, only 18 of the show’s 67 episodes pass the test.
I don’t agree with many of David’s conclusions. For example, on the subject of the Bechdel Test David admits that it’s “pretty limited and somewhat arbitrary.” It can lead to misleading results. For instance, under the rules, “Stormborn” passes the test because it features that silly scene where the Sand Snakes, hanging out in hammocks, talk about who they’re going to kill. Most viewers would probably agree that the Sand Snakes aren’t sterling examples of well-written female characters who drive the narrative. On the other hand, an episode like “The Broken Man” doesn’t pass the test, even though it features great scenes between Olenna and Margaery on the one hand and Olenna and Cersei on the other.
I’d argue that the scene above is mostly about Olenna’s contempt for Cersei and Cersei’s last-ditch effort to salvage her position, but because the likes of Tommen, the High Sparrow and Loras come up, the conversation doesn’t pass the test.
For more, head over to Broadly for the whole article. Even if I don’t agree with all the conclusions, it’s an interesting read.
Credit: Dan Selcke (https://winteriscoming.net/author/danselcke/)
NEXT: Richard Dormer (Beric Dondarrion) talks filming the battle beyond the Wall
Beric Dondarrion isn’t the the most important character on Game of Thrones, but actor Richard Dormer has done a lot with a little, and carved out a place for himself among the expansive Game of Thrones cast. He made an impression this year when Beric went beyond the Wall with Jon Snow to capture a wight, something Dormer talked about with The Guardian.
“The episode Beyond the Wall took five months … it just went on and on. The fight sequence took five weeks to film and lasts five minutes. Just climbing on the dragon took maybe a month – and on screen it’s an eye-blink…It’s not nice being soaking wet and very hot and yet very cold at the same time and trudging up and down the most beautiful glaciers in the world – but not even being able to look because you feel so tired.”
Happily, the cast and crew were wonderful, and helped pass the time. When not shooting, Dormer spent a lot of time playing Risk with his costars. “There were a lot of arguments, mainly because Iain Glen [Jorah Mormont] is so competitive. He would just sit there going ‘Noooo why? Why are you all attacking me?’” Now that’s a funny image. (Kit Harington was apparently the best Risk player, incidentally.)
It also helped that, as Beric, Dormer got to use what he described as “the coolest weapon on the show. It’s better than a lightsaber.” It’s hard to argue too much with a flaming sword, although apparently it was complicated to wield on set.
“Because Beric only has one eye, I’d be temporarily blind and swinging the flaming sword – which is real, not CGI … every time I hit them they’d go whumpf and guys would charge in with extinguishers.”
Sounds difficult, but then again…flaming sword.
Sticking with the Star Wars references, Dormer compares Dondarrion to Obi-Wan Kenobi, noting that Beric “carries his burden very well and is lightly philosophical about it.” That burden, of course, would be the fact that Beric has been killed and resurrected multiple times now, something that weighs on him. “Every time Beric dies he loses a part of himself so he’s constantly mourning the human he used to be.”
Dormer has made something of a speciality of playing tortured characters; you can see him do it again in the BBC drama Rellik, where he plays Gabriel Markham, a detective who’s suffered a face-disfiguring acid attack. The prosthetics involved are taxing, as is working on a show where the story is told back to front. (“Rellik” is “killer” spelled backwards. Geddit?) “Because the story goes backwards you’re aiming towards the person you were before this began rather the one you will be, which is a bit of a head fuck,” Dormer said. “It really gets under your skin.”
So beyond Rellik…did Beric Dondarrion die (for good) when the Wall fell in the season 7 finale? On that particular question, Dormer is silent. Until next time.
credit: Dan Selcke (https://winteriscoming.net/author/danselcke/)