Emilia Clarke on Game of Thrones’ treatment of women: “Don’t take it too seriously”

The actor who plays Daenerys Targaryen has defended the fantasy drama's record

Game of Thrones has a reputation as one of the most shocking shows on TV but season five was more controversial than most. Many viewers complained about scenes of sexual violence directed at female characters, most notably a rape scene featuring Sophie Turner’s Sansa Stark that didn’t exist in the source novels.

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While most RadioTimes.com readers did not think the Sansa scene went too far, some disagreed, and also pointed to other times they felt that rape was used too casually in the series. Now, one of the show’s actors has entered the debate – Terminator Genisys star Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO fantasy drama.

“It’s never nice hearing criticism about something that you, and you know everybody else, puts their heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into,” Clarke told Entertainment Weekly radio. “But in the same breath, it’s a shocking show, so it’s going to invite commentary that everybody is free to have about the show.”

“I think the thing that’s important to remember is that, sadly, first and foremost, it’s a story that we’re telling that is make-believe — that is based in a fantastical world.”

“So, whilst there is a political commentary that people can take from the show because that is everyone’s right to do so, I think not taking it too seriously is kind of the key here.”

Clarke isn’t the first person to defend the series’ record on this matter, with author George RR Martin (who wrote the books Game of Thrones is based on as well as several episodes of the series) previously commenting that he didn’t think we should pretend rape “doesn’t exist”.

“I’m writing about war, which [is] what almost all epic fantasy is about,” he said. “But if you’re going to write about war, and you just want to include all the cool battles and heroes killing a lot of orcs and things like that and you don’t portray [sexual violence], then there’s something fundamentally dishonest about that.”

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Game of Thrones will return next year