‘Game Of Thrones’ Producers: Rumors Of Rewrites Because Of Criticism Are ‘Blatantly Untrue’

Game of Thrones has often been the target of criticism for its graphic violence and for its depiction of women. Last year writers David Benioff and Dan Weiss received a lot of heat for an especially brutal Game of Thrones scene in which Sansa was raped on her wedding night by her psychotic and sadistic husband, Ramsay Bolton. Soon after, Jeremy Podwesa, who has directed four Game of Thrones episodes, commented when asked if Benioff and Weiss were going to make any changes to what they had written for Season 6 in response to viewer comments. He was quoted as saying,

“They were responsive to the discussion and there were a couple of things that changed as a result… They did not want to be too overly influenced by that [criticism], but they did absorb and take it in and it did influence them in a way.”

This seemed counter to what Benioff and Weiss had always said about writing Game of Thrones. They had specifically stated before that they actually try not to read internet opinions on the writing because, as Dan Weiss once said, “It completely confounds the normal creative process.” And given the complex storylines on Game of Thrones, plots are worked out years ahead of time, so it was hard to believe anything would be reworked a few months before a new season.

Entertainment Weekly recently spoke to Weiss and asked him if it was true that some rewriting was done for Game of Thrones Season 6 as a result of criticism about some of last year’s content. He wouldn’t confirm the accuracy of the quote and denied rumors of Game of Thrones rewrites.

“Jeremy is fantastic. It’s hard to know what the context was – whether or not that’s exactly what he said or he said something adjacent to that and the words got shuffled around because whoever typed it up liked the way it sounded better. Who the hell knows? He’s made completely outstanding, wonderful episodes, and is also a wonderful human being. So I have no idea if he said those actual words, but that’s just not a factual statement.”

Benioff also seemed frustrated that the suggestion vastly underestimates the time and planning that goes into writing for a show with the scope and intricacies of Game of Thrones.

“The thing that’s slightly frustrating is the idea that we’re responding to criticism from last year, so therefore we’re going to beef up the female roles – that’s blatantly untrue. What happens this year has been planned for quite some time and is not a response. We can take criticism – and certainly we’ve gotten our share of it – but hearing people look at a middle chapter of a story and make claims about the story as a whole … it’s not in any way a response to online criticism, or any other type of criticism.”

So the suggestion that so many female Game of Thrones characters are emerging as strong and powerful more so than in prior seasons because people were critical of last year’s storylines simply is not true. HBO Entertainment President Michael Lombardo recently commented that the emerging strength of Game of Thrones women this season is just an organic progression of the characters. It’s their story arc. Weiss reiterated this point when he said,

“I can literally say that not one word of the scripts this season have been changed in any way, shape or form by what people said on the Internet, or elsewhere.”

You can’t get much more clear than that.

Game of Thrones returns to HBO on April 24. Besides learning the fate of Jon Snow, fans look forward to the amazing women of Westeros stepping up and showing the men what powerhouses they really are.

[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]

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