TV

Why a "Mad Queen" Is Boring and Sexist in "Game of Thrones"

Its time to free ourselves from this show.

After spending the majority of seven seasons dealing in subtlety, nuance, and clever plot devices, the Game of Thrones team seems to have decided the best way to end a chess game is to flip the board, stomp on it, and then light it on fire.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

Daenerys spent the majority of Season 8 episode 5 fulfilling every toxic trope of the scorned, histrionic woman. At least we can be grateful that if anyone accuses her of being on her period they can expect to die in a blaze of dragon fire. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (D&D), having taken the season into their own, clumsy, bro-ish hands, have definitively raised the question among fans: Have those two Q-tips with eyes ever met an actual woman? Given the graceless handling of Dany's previously fascinating story arc, it would appear that D&D are doing their best to turn fans against the Dragon Queen by making her two-dimensional and illogically vengeful.

To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with a "mad queen" storyline. But there is something vaguely offensive about running out of time to wrap up your show and consequently deciding to use chewing gum and elbow grease to shove a crude storyline onto what was previously one of the best characters on TV. Even Emilia Clarke has struggled to contain her disappointment in the lackluster final season.

Yes, a mad queen arc was always a possibility, but to make that choice without exploring any of Dany's internal turmoil or showing any resistance to this biological mental illness that has apparently overtaken her is lazy and jarringly sudden. That's not to mention the blood-boiling implication that the massacre was set off by Jon romantically rejecting Dany, firmly placing "the breaker of chains" into the stereotype of the jaded, crazy woman. Whether intentionally or not, D&D are painting the picture that dire consequences come from trusting a woman with power.

Sure, it's tempting to argue that to read so deeply into the treatment of gender in a fantasy show about dragons and magic is unnecessary, but one has to keep in mind that Game of Thrones is one of the most widely consumed pieces of media in the history of the world. We have to hold artists responsible for treating female characters with as much respect and care as they do male characters, particularly when they're given a platform as vast as D&D have been given. We expected so much better.

The CGI fire was extremely cool, though.


Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.


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