‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6: Producers, Creators Rethinking Role of Sexual Violence

     December 21, 2015

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Discussing the role of sexual violence in Game of Thrones, especially in the previous season and the upcoming sixth season, director James Podeswa recently commented that the producers, creators, and the rest of the creative team are considering a new tract going forward. As Forbes reports, Podeswa gave more than a few insights on how the reaction to Sansa Stark’s (Sophie Turner) rape in the fifth season has affected the show’s approach to depicting sexual violence at a breakfast briefing at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney. Here was what he had to say about how the infamous sequence has made its way into the process of producing the sixth season:


“It is important that (the producers) not self-censor. The show depicts a brutal world where horrible things happen. They did not want to be too overly influenced by that (criticism) but they did absorb and take it in and it did influence them in a way.”

He went on:

“I welcomed the discussion about the depiction of violence on television and how it could be used as a narrative tool sometimes and the questionable nature of that. We were aware ahead of time that it was going to be disturbing but we did not expect there would be people in Congress talking about it.”

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Image via HBO

Podeswa, who has served as a director on a myriad of HBO series, including The Newsroom and the rightfully derided second season of True Detective, also had quite a lot to say about how production has been going with the latest season, commenting specifically on how shooting and design have been coming along. Here’s what he had to say about his role in making the show and how its affected his artistry:


“Logistically it’s the most complex show on television…Last year we shot in Croatia, Spain and Northern Ireland. This year we had one day in Croatia, then Spain and Northern Ireland. I did a lot of things I’ve not done before, especially in visual effects. The producers have the toughest job; I just go where they tell me to go. I think the show is a piece of magic.”

The director, who is currently working on a feature film, 419, also discussed how he reacted to more budgetary restrictions in the season 5, especially in one of the last scenes in the House of Faces, where the production design had to be cut down to a more limited scope. More interestingly, he went on to discuss the beginning of production of the sixth season. Here’s what he had to say about working on the season premiere:

“Doing the first episode of a new season is always a bit tricky because they tend to lay down a lot of tracks for the season and check on where the characters are now. They’re not usually the most dynamic episodes. Happily for me this year the producers tried to work against that. The season gets off to an amazing start, stuff of consequence happens and the first two episodes are really strong.”

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Image via HBO

I hope Podeswa is correct in assuming that the reaction to the Sansa scene will make them rethink exactly how such acts are depicted in the series, but I can’t say I’m holding my breath on this one. This is a show that has gained and maintained its popularity largely off of who dies and how they die in the story; the biggest stories from the series tend to come from its more brutal plot turns, rather than any ideas of power, violence, and familial legacy. This isn’t to say that the production values aren’t excellent or that the acting isn’t, on the whole, hugely impressive, but if this show were to suddenly to dial back the blood, guts, decapitations, and general physical assault, it’s draw would be tremendously diminished, and Podeswa seems to know that, as do lead creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss.


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Image via HBO

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Image via HBO

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Image via HBO


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