How 'House of the Dragon' incorporates elements of reality into its fantastical universe

 How 'House of the Dragon' incorporates elements of reality into its fantastical universe

In "House of the Dragon," Milly Alcock plays Young Rhaenyra and Emily Carey plays Young Alicent.

Obviously, medieval medicine had its limitations. However, a crucial scene from the "House of the Dragon" premiere will probably strike a chord with many people in a way that transcends the world of fiction and touches on real-world issues with women's reproductive rights.

The queen, Aemma Targaryen (Sian Brooke), is in the middle of a difficult labor in the first episode of the HBO series. King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine), her husband, is anxious to have a son in order to fulfill tradition and provide a male heir to the kingdom.

The medical advisors inform the king that the baby was born via breach and that he must make a horrible decision between trying to save the mother's life or losing the infant.

The king finally decides on the horrific treatment after much agony, and the queen is killed by the blood loss.

Aemma calls laboring women "our battleground" earlier in the episode, and given the primitive equipment available at the time, that statement holds especially true in the world of the program. The first season, in the words of James Hibberd of the Hollywood Reporter, "does for giving birth what 'Game of Thrones' did for marriages."

Even though the series is billed as a fantasy, it is hard to completely separate it from the fight over abortion since the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade in June, igniting a furious conversation about concerns of forced birth and women's autonomy over their healthcare. In this case, the spouse (who is also the head of state) makes the final decision for her, with the worst possible repercussions.

Although it eventually prompts him to name his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), as his heir, despite the break with tradition that entails it and the expectation that a future son, born to a new queen, will prompt him to replace her, the fact that the baby later dies does not undo Viserys' actions.

The first season of "House of the Dragon" revolves with issues related to a patriarchal culture, where boys are favoured in the drive to preserve royal lineages and turmoil and strife can result without such clear lines of succession, as the makers have admitted.

In response to these issues, executive producer Miguel Sapochnik stated that "the patriarchy's perception of women" is a fundamental conflict within the series. He added that delving into such issues — including the choice to center the plot around its female characters — "made this show feel more contemporary."

The creators were obviously aware of the early criticisms of "Game of Thrones," even if the main goal is to show an earlier chapter in author George R.R. Martin's battles for the Iron Throne. The "House" cast was expanded to include individuals of color, and, as Salon pointed out, sexual violence was depicted in a more subdued manner.

Evidently, "House of the Dragon" is aiming to appeal to a wide range of people on several levels, including spectacle, escapism, and its connection to the mythology found in Martin's work and the preceding series, as shown by its grandeur and setting. Drama, however, has a way of addressing issues that are important to us even when it is set in the past, the future, or an other world.

So don't let the dragons deceive you into dismissing the series as pure fantasy, as the pilot indicates and later episodes will support.

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