HBO’s Game of Thrones has landed on the cover of the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, which isn’t a huge surprise given the popularity of the show, but the angle of these covers is certainly curious. Six different covers give the spotlight over to the women of the immensely popular fantasy series, offering previews of the Season 6 iterations of Emilia Clarke’s Danerys Targaryen, Lena Heady’s Cersei Lannister, Maisie Williams’ Arya Stark, Sophie Turner’s Sansa Stark, Gwendoline Christie’s Brienne of Tarth, and Natalie Dormer’s Margaery Tyrell.
Speaking with the outlet, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo said women take center stage with the latest season of the series:
“The women are rocking this season — and I’m not just saying that because they’re on your cover. Daenerys always does, but also Brienne, Arya, Sansa, Cersei, Margaery, and other characters too, like Yara (Gemma Whelan). They power this season. It’s organic to the storytelling, yet a radical shift. It’s the women that are the hope that we’re watching as the chess pieces move this season, and it’s very exciting.”
It’s no secret that Game of Thrones has incited backlash over its sexually violent portrayal of women, which reached a fever pitch last year with the sexual assault of not one but two main characters that was, frankly, unnecessary. It’ll be interesting to see if that aspect of the show is finally toned down or if showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are forging ahead as usual, but given these “Dame of Thrones” covers and Lombardo’s comments, it feels like the network is trying to win back some of that goodwill. We get it, the night is dark and full of terrors, but sexual assault isn’t the only way to show that the world of Game of Thrones is unforgiving.
Check out the new Game of Thrones covers below, via EW. The show returns to HBO on April 24th.