After last week’s epic battle involving that crab guy (who we’re guessing only existed due to some sort of corporate partnership with Red Lobster), this week’s episode of House of the Dragon, “King of the Narrow Sea,” went back to doing what the show does best: making you want to bathe in a tub full of Purell as soon as the credits roll. 

Yeah, despite the fact that producers previously claimed that they would “not depict sexual violence in the show,” we got a story that featured both the marital rape of Queen Alicent and a scene in which Daemon lures his underage niece Rhaenyra to a brothel, at which point he starts to make out with her, and later expresses a desire to marry her – a storyline which, and we can’t stress this enough, was seemingly even too gross for George R.R. Martin to spell out in his book. 

Look, obviously, this show is a spin-off of Game of Thrones which also contained a lot of horrifying stuff over the years – worse even than Ed Sheeran’s cameo – often involving violence, incest, and sexual assault. But they didn’t happen every single week and weren’t exclusively directed at a central core of characters. It’s as if each episode, House of Dragons is obligated to include a scene that’s even more distasteful than what came the week before, possibly to juice up audience engagement and promote water cooler chit-chat – and that strategy seems to be working. Each week there’s a veritable tidal wave of mass revulsion on social media, followed by online write-ups documenting said revulsion.

express.co.uk

newsweek.com

nypost.com

In a way, this show is arguably taking its cues from the gross-out comedy trend that began in the ‘90s and early 2000s, which died off a few years ago. But instead of pie-boinking, or semen-hair gel, House of the Dragon is using dramatic (and more realistically upsetting) story beats to stoke a kind of unified cultural nausea, and create a distinct shared experience for audiences – which, as unpleasant as it may be in this instance, is increasingly rare in the age of streaming.

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Thumbnail: HBO

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