'House Of The Dragon's 'Historically Accurate' Plots Are Historically Wrong
This article contains SPOILERS for the first three episodes of House of the Dragon.
Since none of the episodes so far have seemingly ruined the lives of any actual real-world children, we can’t say that House of the Dragon is HBO’s most uncomfortable show. But still, we’ve already gotten some extremely distressing plot points so far – possibly even more distressing than the janky platinum wigs and illusion-shattering facial hair.
First of all there was the graphic C-section scene in the very first episode, which understandably disturbed a number of fans (and likely traumatized anyone who tuned in expecting to see a sitcom about a family of talking dragons). According to creator Ryan Condal, the scene depicting a non-consensual act of tortuous surgery was not “meant to be gratuitous” (whoops) but rather to “show there's a heavy theme in this particular period … There's this whole idea in Game of Thrones, or in the Middle Ages, or in historical age like this, that the men marched off to the battlefield and the women's battlefield happened in the child bed.”
Co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik similarly defended the moment using real-world historical inspirations, claiming that “In medieval times, giving birth was violence … It’s as dangerous as it gets.” Well, there you go, how could the scene be “gratuitous” if it was simply plucked from Earth’s history and shoehorned into a story featuring dragons and snow-zombies?
But according to experts that’s … a bunch of bull? For one thing, C-sections weren’t only not performed on live mothers in the Middle Ages, such a thing didn’t happen until the 20th Century. And even the “medieval patriarchy” was generally “very keen on protecting mothers from harm,” unlike what we see in the show. The scene’s effectiveness as a piece of modern post-Roe commentary is debatable, but the whole “historical accuracy” argument seems pretty hard to swallow.
Then there was the moment in the follow-up episode in which Viserys is set up with a potential new Queen who turns out to be his 12-year-old girl niece – which is both revolting and, even within the confines of the icky storyline, extremely impractical, considering that the King is only interested in marrying again in order to produce an heir as quickly as possible. Understandably, fans were both “mortified” and “grossed out” by this scene.
King Viserys ended up rejecting his niece and opting to marry … his daughter’s best friend, who was 14 at the time in the book, and who is apparently supposed to be 15 in the show. And as we see in the most recent episode, the couple immediately had a child: Aegon. This, too, can’t necessarily be justified by history; the story of House of the Dragon was inspired by a real medieval civil war; but in that case, King Henry 1 of England married an 18-year-old – yeah, they actually aged down the House of Dragons character from her historical counterpart for some reason. Apparently, modern premium cable content creators just have different standards than brutal medieval monarchs …
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