With Game of Thrones in its last season, fans all over the world are awaiting who will finally sit on the Throne in King's Landing. The journey up until this point has been enthralling (except for the season 8 episode 3 which was too dark to even..) As fans anticipate a memorable end to this phenomenon of a show, we can't help but notice one thing in this season - has Game of Thrones toned down its sexual content? Has it gone down a path of being one of those shows that makes itself PG-13?
It's not a complaint as much as it is an observation. A question that’s been asked for as long as this HBO series has been on the air: Why so much sex and violence?
The question has been raised in different ways at different times. Since the very first season, it has focused on nudity and the habit of featuring naked bodies, with booties in your face in at random time (usually those of prostitutes) onscreen, which made it a show to be watched in private, if caught watching one would feel guilty as if one were watching porn. Be it watching Cersei and Jaime's carnal indulgence right in the first episode when both are in WInterfell to watching the Daenerys Targaryen being raped by her late husband Khal Drogo, her plot slowly evolving into a sexually empowered woman.
There's been a history of sexual violence through it, one of the most hard-hitting and hurtful ones being of Sansa Stark being raped by violent sexual sadist Ramsay Bolton as he made her brother Theon Greyjoy watch. Again, Theon was castrated by Ramsay which was another scene displaying ruthless gore.
The season 8, however, is different. Sure, the show remains true to its original essence with a little bit of gore shown here and there.
In the last episode, number 4 of season 8 there was a rather controversial statement made by Sansa that had it not been for being abused and sexually violated, she would not have been the strong woman she became now. This statement may have struck a wrong chord with fans as they debate online whether or not saying something like this is disrespectful to rape victims.
When condensing Martin’s work for the screen, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the showrunners of GoT, at times toned down or cut altogether instances of sexual abuse. The books that are much longer than the show have many a horrific instances —sexual and otherwise —that are essential to the narrative. However, the showrunners also at times went out of the context of books to show violence, like the prostitute Ros, who was shot by a crossbow in the groin and between here breasts.
Coming back to season 8, the sex scene between Arya and Gendry, empowering and hot as it might have been, left fans shocked as they saw their beloved Arya make love for the first time with the person she was in love with all through the seasons.
Yes, the gore remains, but not as cringe-worthy as it were in season 1 where the Dothraki wedding set the first example for the kind of sexualized violence there would be in all the future episodes.
For a show that gained part of it's reputation for the nudity and bloodshed, there sure is a noticeable difference between all the seasons and the current one, where a scene full of unexpressed passion between Jaime and Brienne too was toned down, compared to its previous seasons where nudity would have been one of the obvious factors when showing a sex scene. It is novel even for a character like Cercei's being shown to 'do it' with a sadistic, perverted character like Euron's to only have suggestive dialogues implying a sexual act, when infact, in one of the episodes there had been a scene of Cersei having consensual sex in the Sept of Baelor near their son's coffin. (Belch!)
Maybe because it is the last season, or perhaps because it does not thave the same touch it did when the show referred the books, there certainly is a remarkable difference between the previous season and the last one. We feel that perhaps, without the reference and input GRR Martin's next book in the series, the makers may now be lacking the core essence and initial gusto that made the show what it is. And we say this not just in the context of it's violence that once did go too far for fans to handle, but in the entity of the show's engagement in storyline and overall character arcs.