House of the Dragon‘s first episode featured a pretty graphic childbirth scene; which was instantly criticised online. Many are now calling for the show to add a trigger warning or to remove the scene completely from the episode but that’s ridiculous… Spoiler alert: the following article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon.
With just one episode, House of the Dragon made some serious noise. 9.986 million viewers watched the first episode on the night it was released (the 21st of August) and now, a week later, it’s been watched by over 20 million viewers. Plus, HBO announced shortly after the episode’s release, that the Game of Thrones prequel series would get a second season.
The internet exploded and many quickly shared (myself included) that the inaugural episode of House of the Dragon was just as good as peak Game of Thrones. Many also shared their thoughts on the now infamous birthing scene.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch House of the Dragon’s first episode yet, King Viserys – who is desperate for his pregnant wife, Queen Aemma, to give birth to a son; an heir – is advised by The Grand Maester that because the baby is in breach it’s likely that both Aemma and the child will die.
Viserys is then told that there is a way to save the child; however, this method would definitely kill Aemma. Viserys selfishly chooses this option and we see a terrified, unconsenting Aemma subjected to a graphic and brutal caesarean.
The scene quickly garnered backlash online. Many argued it was gratuitous; it was not necessary for the plot to move forward and was just another senseless scene glorifying violence against women.
The BBC reported that House of the Dragon should have included a ‘trigger warning’ before the episode; Jen Coates, the director of bereavement support charity Sands, shared her belief that the childbirth scene was “fairly traumatic” and a trigger warning should’ve definitely been added.
“That way, people can be better equipped with the knowledge and make an informed decision to watch or skip particular scenes or episodes.”Jen Coates
Some have even argued online that the childbirth scene should be removed completely from the episode. But House of the Dragon showrunner Miguel Sapochnik has defended the scene and told Insider that he asked for feedback from multiple women before the episode aired and believed the scene was highlighting an important – and topical, following the overturning of Roe vs Wade – issue: women should have a choice when it comes to their bodies.
“We did make a point of showing it to as many women as possible and asked the very question, ‘Was this too violent for you?’ And unanimously, the response was ‘no.’ Often the response was, ‘If anything, it needs to be more.’”Miguel Sapochnik
“We shouldn’t be shying away from this thing that’s happened because it’s raising a point that seems to hit a real trigger for women, which is this idea of choice. She doesn’t get to choose. She’s effectively murdered by her husband. And that is a good indication of the state of play in this world that we’re inhabiting.”
I have to agree; yes the scene was hard to watch but women are so often shown to have easy, peaceful births when that’s not the case at all. And when watching the scene, I was utterly disgusted that Viserys subjected his wife to a caesarian and that poor Aemma had absolutely no autonomy over her own body; so disgusted in fact, that the scene furthered my firm belief that this kind of control over women is wrong and society really needs to do better when it comes to women’s rights.
Plus, I knew what I was getting into when I first sat down to watch House of the Dragon. Its predecessor, Game of Thrones was filled with graphic violence from the get-go, and as House of the Dragon is a prequel, I knew it’d most likely be just as explicit. Plus, the show is rated MA-15+ for violence…
However, I can appreciate that for some, especially pregnant women, perhaps the scene was too much and that’s where a trigger warning would be helpful. But for those arguing the scene was unnecessary and needs to be removed, I disagree. The scene was poignant and provided an interesting social commentary that women’s rights really haven’t come that far since the Middle Ages.
If the scene did bother you though, that’s your opinion and I respect it. But don’t argue that House of the Dragon should be altered or edited so that the violence is toned down; because many enjoy those elements. Instead, just don’t watch the show; no one’s forcing you to…