Emma D'Arcy 'Takes Issue' With Criticisms Of House Of Dragon's Child Birth Scenes

Now that the debut season of "House of the Dragon" is in the rearview, fans and creatives involved with the show have plenty of time to discuss, reassess, and debate the stories and themes presented in the popular "Game of Thrones" prequel series. The show tells the story of the Targaryen family war of succession between Aegon II and his half-sister Rhaenyra regarding their father Viserys I's throne. This war took place hundreds of years before women like Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, Sansa Stark, and Margaery Tyrell were ever remotely considered able to sit on the Iron Throne, when men would rather kill their friends, families, and loved ones if it meant a woman wouldn't hold the crown.

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, "House of the Dragon" does not shy away from the royal, brutal violence that occurred in previous centuries. Where the show differs, however, is its complicated examination of both misogynistic violence and the ways the birthing bed is its own battlefield. Discussing these topics, even in today's seemingly "more refined" society, is no easy task. Personal feelings and instinctive responses rooted in lived experience are bound to have an impact on how a viewer processes the stories presented on screen, which means there's no way to appease an entire audience. Many fans were vocally critical of the violence depicted in "House of the Dragon," especially the often terminal results of medieval childbirth.

"House of the Dragon" star Emma D'Arcy performed one such childbirth scene and had plenty to say in an interview with GQ regarding the criticism volleyed at these scenes. Spoiler alert: they are none too pleased.

'We want women to conform'

In speaking GQ, Emma D'Arcy admitted that while they've not actively sought out the criticisms of the birthing scenes in "House of the Dragon," they "take real issue with the idea that we shouldn't see women in labor depicted with gritty realism, and blood, and placentas." Childbirth is often presented as "the miracle of life" or as a "beautiful experience," which may be true when considering the life-altering emotional response that comes with bringing a child into this world.

That said, the actual physical act of childbirth can be brutal, traumatic, and physically consuming. Of course, there are plenty of people who have manageable deliveries like something out of a movie, but for many parents, their experiences are more reflective of Rhaenyra Targaryen (or tragically, her mother, Aemma Arryn) on "House of the Dragon." 

D'Arcy took additional issue with the criticisms considering a major unique selling point of all things "Game of Thrones" is the inclusion of "big, gory battle sequences." "What it feels like is that we want women to conform to a certain image," D'Arcy said. "Which is interesting, insofar as acting is concerned, because, there's also a lot of fun to be had getting to do the big physical, physically demanding sequences. And it's interesting that maybe sometimes that is not afforded to female characters." D'Arcy is spot on, even if accepting their comments as reality stirs up difficult feelings to process. 

Sometimes life brings immeasurable difficulties, and childbirth is one of them for many people. May D'Arcy's comments be an evergreen reminder that what is traumatic for some may be therapeutic for others, and it's up to all of us to set personal boundaries, rather than demand a TV show do it for us.