House Of The Dragon Critics Want A Warning For “Traumatic” Scene

House of the Dragon had the biggest premiere in the history of HBO, but now critics are calling for trigger warnings to be placed beause of a "traumatic" scene.

By Britta DeVore | Published

house of the dragon

If you were one of the almost 10 million viewers who tuned into HBO on Sunday to catch the debut of the Game of Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon, you may have had your mind blown, questions answered, and maybe even gained some trauma. Following an intense, bloody scene in which Paddy Considine’s King Viserys calls for a cesarean section on his wife, Sian Brooke’s Aemma Aryn, audiences are upset that the episode didn’t include a trigger warning at the top. The harrowing and upsetting birthing scene saw Aemma receiving the operation while fully conscious. As disturbing as that is, it took an even worse turn when the surgical procedure ultimately led to the death of the royal woman and her baby. 

While the troubling scene upset many viewers, series director Miguel Sapochnik is sticking by his vision for the premiere episode of the new show. The House of the Dragon helmer informed members of the press that he had in fact spoken with several women before moving forward with the filming of the scene. For anyone who has been paying attention to Sapochnik’s ideas for the series, the birthing scene and the director’s response should be no surprise. 

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter back in late July, the director mentioned that during those days “giving birth was violence,” adding that women would have “a 50/50 chance of making it.” And, if you thought that this would be the last intense birthing scene in House of the Dragon, buckle up. During that same chat, Sapochnik revealed that the series will feature “a number of births” in which he plans to show different sides to the difficulty of childbirth back in medieval times. 

Viewers can also expect to see more of the violence against women and sex scenes that House of the Dragon’s predecessor Game of Thrones was known for – and sometimes slammed for. To refresh your memory, back in Season 5 of the David Benioff and D.B. Weiss- created series, the eventual Queen of the North, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) was viciously raped by her sadistic husband Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). The scene garnered a lot of backlash for the pure brutality of it, leading Sophie Turner to speak out about it years later, referring to it as a traumatizing experience

During that same interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sapochnik revealed that House of the Dragon will show how much sex is a part of everyday life for the Targaryens. But it won’t all be consensual. As Sapochnik puts it, “you can’t ignore the violence that was perpetrated on women by men in that time,” adding that production did their best to make sure it wasn’t “glorified” in any way. 

The controversy surrounding what it means to properly portray that period has always been a part of the conversation when it comes to the Game of Thrones and now the House of the Dragon universe. While it is set in the medieval period, it’s still a fantasy series that includes fire-breathing dragons and other fictionalized aspects leading many to argue that they don’t need to be watching traumatizing rape scenes and now gore-filled birth scenes. While it remains to be seen as to whether the production will listen to its critics and add trigger warnings to the beginning of hard-to-watch episodes, it won’t be long until those topics come into light pushing for more of a discussion as to what’s acceptable to have on TV and what should be left on the cutting room floor. The series has already received a second season order.