For the third year in a row, ‘Game of Thrones’ will lack a single female director
Game of Thrones just wrapped a gangbusters season. Making a complete about-face from their missteps with female characters — particularly Daenerys’ wedding night, Cersei and Jaime’s funeral reunion, and Sansa’s second wedding night — David Benioff and D.B. Weiss ushered in a new reign of female empowerment. The patriarchy is dead; long live the matriarchy (and Jon Snow).
But while women fared better in front of the camera this season, behind the scenes it’s a different story. As reported by EW, the directors in charge of Game of Thrones truncated seventh season will be Alan Taylor, Jeremy Podeswa, Mark Mylod, and Matt Shakman. The chosen share something in common: they’re all white men.
Being a Game of Thrones director is a very elite club. Over the last six seasons, only eighteen people have held the job (Matt Shakman will be #19). Out of that select group, only one has been a woman. Michelle MacLaren helmed four episodes of the show: ‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair,’ ‘Second Sons,’ ‘Oathkeeper,’ and ‘First of His Name.’ But since MacLaren’s departure from the show in 2014, no other woman has stepped behind the camera. Once Season 7 begins filming, that will be THREE YEARS without gender diversity in the director’s chair.
The Game of Thrones writers room fairs slightly better. Again the pool is small; only seven people have a writing credit for the show, and that includes George R.R. Martin. Of that elite group, two have been women. Jane Espenson helped in writing ‘A Golden Crown’ in 2011. Vanessa Taylor had a hand in ‘The Old Gods and the New’ and ‘Garden of Bones’ in 2012 and ‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’ in 2013. Since then? No women at all.
I can’t help but feel some of the complaints against Game of Thrones past portrayals of women on-screen could be due in part to the lack of women behind-the-scenes. It’s easy to overlook background radiation sexism when you aren’t trained to see it. This past season of Game of Thrones shows it can be done, but you have to be laser focused.
In May, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) released statistics that are unsurprising, but depressing. During the 2015-2016 television season, women only directed 17.1% of all episodes. To be fair, that number was up from the abysmal 15.8% in the 2014-2015 season. But considering HBO was ranked as one worst offenders in the DGA’s 2015 report, you’d think they’d be trying hard to right the ship so to speak.
Oh well, there’s always Game of Thrones Season 8, I guess?