I think I’ve finally figured out why Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones episode, “Beyond the Wall,” bugged me so much.
As many fans will tell you, there were a lot of problems with the logistics.
But what really annoyed me was its view of female relationships. Beyond the wall the former male enemies were bonding like brothers.
My father tried to kill you? Well, let’s have a drink, talk about getting laid, and go kill something because we’re guys and, hey, that’s what we do.
Meanwhile, the zombie apocalypse is coming and not only are Arya and Sansa Stark not sticking together, they’re arguing about the correct response to being victimized.
In the right hands (say, George R.R. Martin’s), their sibling rivalry and inability to see eye-to-eye would be a chance to explore the different ways people respond to abuse. And there wouldn’t be one way that appeared more right than the other.
But because Arya is a far more popular character than Sansa (even though she’s become, let’s face it, a ruthless little bitch) it’s hard for viewers not to buy Arya’s viewpoint.
Her vie, however, is “blame the victim.” Even though doing anything other than what she did would have meant Sansa’s death it’s not enough. Sansa couldn’t just survive. In Arya’s eyes (and so ours) she had to be the hero. And that isn’t always the best response.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been there with the sibling rivalry thing. I was the kid who got straight “A”s without trying. My sister (who is quite brilliant) had to work at it. She had to be the sister of the girl in that band.
In turn, however, she was the popular one. She was the braver one. And I was certain my parents liked her best.
I’ll tell you one thing, though – if the zombie apocalypse was heading toward L.A., we sure as shit wouldn’t be arguing about who’s handwriting was more perfect or who Daddy liked best. We’d be using our survival skills together — as a family.
One of the great things about Martin’s books is that liking cute boys and pretty dresses don’t make a character boring. Sansa is the one female character who represents the majority of girls/women of her era (and pretty much every era since) and her viewpoint is as necessary to the books as anyone’s.
Sure, Martin’s books celebrate people who want to break prevailing gender norms and societal strictures
But unlike the show they don’t judge people who follow them either. We can admire Sansa for her decency. We may not always like Cat because of how she treats her husband’s (alleged) bastard, but we understand why she does it and it makes us think.
But D.B. Weiss and David Benioff (who created and still run the show) have always been a bit slow when it comes to women. Eventually they do get it, however. When viewers complained about too much female nudity and less than sensitive treatment of sexual assault, the gratuitous nudity and sexual abuse went.
So now my challenge to them is to study some actual women (since there seem to be none on staff this season — or at least none have received a writer or director credit).
Come on, guys – you can figure out how to make women interact without it being about “pretty dresses.” Even Daenerys – who loves and fights like the boys do – had to put on a fab coat and catch the eye of the cute boy before saving his ass with her dragons. That was a Hunger Games move, not a Game of Thrones one.
Why is it the Hollywood Reporter — while generously ranking Sansa the 6th-best character on the show (Arya was number one) — still felt it necessary to note that Sansa is “not always the easiest character to root for.”
Is it because she doesn’t kill anyone (other than the guy that raped and tortured her, killed her little brother and tried to wipe out her entire family)? Because she saves the north through her own cunning? Because she’s ruling better and more justly than anyone else on the show has? Because she has somehow kept her faith in humankind even after all she’s been through?
She should be our favorite character. We should be crying when Arya and Sansa don’t come together, not taking sides.
David… D.B…. you were doing so well with the women but now you’ve reverted to shallow stereotypes. Enough with the women having to act like boys, moon over boys, or talk about “pretty dresses.”
Winter is here.
How about letting some of the women come together? How about letting them be who they are?
You’ve only got a few women and a few episodes left.