It would be unfair to deny that Game of Thrones season 8 has been a case of terrible writing. The progression of events was haphazard, incoherent and sometimes even banal. The moments that they thought would put us in “Awe” were moments that actually made us cringe if not turn off our computers. Being disappointed is being forgiving. We need to be outraged.
However, the only writing I have seen worse than season 8 was this blog by The Quint, calling Game of Thrones bad writing and SEXIST. After reading this, I am outraged at this too.
Game of Thrones is a convoluted show exploring a wide range of intensity. There is so much happening simultaneously, we may sometimes condone many aspects of it. But calling the writing “Sexist” against women specifically, is like overlooking the season entirely.
I will start by addressing the concerns in the above mentioned article.
- Cersei Lannister
I cannot express my love for this character. Her strength and capability of being resolute at all times is truly remarkable. She does not have many layers to her but that is what makes her so perfect. Cersei Lannister seems to vicariously feel powerful by pushing her children to take the throne. What we fail to see is that her relationship with her children is not limited to that. In countless instances, Cersei has truly loved her children which we overlook because she is simply supposed to be the bad guy. Maybe even the worst.
The above article talks about how writing that she did terrible things out of love for her children rather than simply an attempt to be powerful is “Reductionist”. Basically, using motherly love as a substitute for her ambition/greed was sexist. I disagree. It was never used as a substitute. Cersei is still ambitious, still ruthless but also a mother. In the last season, we had to witness her downfall which had already begun since her “Walk of Shame” in season 5. You should have expected that.
It is wrong to discard Cersei’s motherly side. Cersei has always been selfish except in regards to her children which should all the more, highlight her affections towards them. Calling her maternal tendencies reductionist to her very character, is not only a terrible misinterpretation but also offensive. Motherhood does not make a character weak. Considering motherhood a weakness in itself is messed up.
2) Daenerys Targaryen
I”m glad this blog post recognized the efforts put in by Daenerys to achieve what she thought was legitimately hers. Daenerys has remained focused on her goal for most of the seasons, making her a widely loved character. Her display of empathy, lack of Westerosi greed and her want to rule for the right reasons makes her a wonderful prospective queen. But the article claims that the “Mad Queen trope” was unnecessary. I like to think it was genius. Heartbreaking but genius. Daenerys losing her conscience in episode 5 was not an attack at her incapability of being a queen. It intended to show us a much bigger picture. Over the seasons, Dany’s reputation was built on the very fact that she claimed to be antithesis of everything that her father was. However, her mad queen disaster did not show her failure and her ambition did not drive her mad. There was rather a philosophical aspect of her returning to who she truly was meant to be- the Mad King’s daughter. It was not a happy moment. Neither for King’s Landing nor for GOT fans who had grown to love Dany so much. Her ambition was not clouded by her madness. Infact, she had already won over King’s Landing. The Mad Queen trope simply told us that no matter how hard she tried to steer away from her the atrocities committed by her father, she was always going to be his daughter. Therefore, it was not an attack on women, but a representation of a relationship.
3) Sansa Stark
Sansa’s sexual abuse did not make her a “Woman worth a damn”. Rather her experience of life did. Sansa grew up believing in all things pretty and perfect. However, sexual abuse is not the only hardship she ever faced. Her family was decimated and she lost faith in everyone she ever knew. She also lost faith in the idea of queenliness, something she had always longed for. Sexual abuse is only one of the things that made Sansa pull up her socks. Only when she realized eventually that hardly anything in life was every going to be pretty, Sansa indeed became a “Woman worth a damn”. Sansa’s wishes are not the representation of womanhood, but of her innocence. Sansa’s character development has been the most phenomenal of all characters. I’m not sure how her becoming Queen of the North was sexist in any way. It was a win for women which was also beautifully directed.
4) Arya Stark
Basically the star of half the season, Arya Stark said farewell to winter. She not only saved her brother, but saved Westeros. In many episodes we have seen her training to be a warrior and in season 8, she emerges as a bloody good one. Her action scenes were brilliant to watch. I don’t know what you were doing if you were not rooting for her. Arya shoved conventions aside all her life, denied the opportunity of being Lady Baratheon so she could be who she wanted to be.
The blogpost claims she became “devoid of her sense of self” when in reality, she found herself. Perhaps she lost her sense of self when she became “No one” but that ways always accompanied by a greater purpose which was finishing everybody on her list. Arya’s sexual awakening was also symbolic of her assertiveness as a woman rather than being subjected to a man and his needs which we have seen in most sexual encounters in Game Of Thrones.
5) Lady Brienne
How can we possibly call this season sexist when Brienne of Tarth received a knighthood! She too did not conform to conventions. She was respected and cheered on by a room of only men for her valor and worthiness of being a knight. It was one of the most beautiful moments in the entire show.
6) Lady Mormont
A young girl who was not supposed to fight, she stood on the battlefield the entire time. She did not allow her physical weakness to dictate her actions when she charged at a giant to protect her people. Her fearlessness in the episode was commendable when she risked her own life to kill the beast.
Game of Thrones is fantasy, yes but has a lot of medieval traces. Certainly, revolting things have happened to women on this show but I believe that is authenticity of the tyrannical world they wanted Westeros to look like. Moreover it does not make sense to expect today’s ideas to be the moral code for the series. For that matter, the show would hardly be as gruesome as it is.
So while Season 8 has its flaws which are many, it has managed to portray women characters in the most beautiful way possible despite the lack of modernity of the show.