Wed
May 2 2012 10:00am
Game of Thrones vs Girls: “Modern” vs Fantasy Women

Game of Thrones women versus the female cast of Girls

It’s no surprise that fans have been tweeting, blogging, and Facebooking up and down about the representation of women in Game of Thrones. Since it’s first episode debut, George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy saga has presented its fans with a heavily misogynistic world populated by powerful men and the women trapped in their machinations. Yet for all the plethora of words tossed out there about the gender politics within Game of Thrones, this article is about something very different. I’m talking about the divergence of gender representation in fantasy versus “real world” television for today. For an example of modern “realistic” television, I’m looking at HBO’s new NYC comedy, Girls.

Girls is marketed as the love child of Sex in the City and every “come to New York to live your dream” story for the lost millennial. This satire is the brainchild of Lena Dunham and has equally been called “groundbreaking” and “unwatchable.” It chronicles the fumbling adventures of four “typical” women trying to make their way in the hipster-infested world of New York’s twenty-something set.

Let’s forget for a second that for a satire, the show is decidedly not funny. After a disturbingly bland first episode, I was struck by the unbearable ennui and apathy of the main characters. The women are hopeless stereotypes of First World Problems given form, racially bland, and focused on their own self-importance. And as a representation of women, Girls rings of a kind of terrifyingly banal view of women that is boggling. In just the first episode, the female characters dance the modern dance of frighteningly empty sex, drug use, and how to beg your family for financial support when you’re a hopelessly unmotivated creative in NYC. Frighteningly, plenty of folks are responding to Dunham’s “comedy,” with the debut being called “bold” and “fresh” by some reviewers and pulling over 800,000 viewers for it’s first episode.

Now, I watched the first episode, purely after hearing another friend complaining about it. And while I watched, mouth gaped wide in horror, one thought crossed my mind — if this is the stereotype offered of today’s modern woman, I’d rather be in Westeros.

The juxtaposition of Game of Thrones versus Girls might not be entirely fair. Where Dunham’s limpingly unfunny portrayal of women in Girls is meant to be satirical, Game of Thrones is not. Yet both are supposed to be heavily character-driven shows and have the common feature of portraying beautiful, mostly upper-class, mostly white women. Sitting through the first episode of Girls, however, I was struck by the notion that I’m more inclined to root for women who are oppressed by their circumstance as opposed to themselves. Where the world of Westeros is hopelessly misogynistic, it represents a contextual gender inequality that still inspires more powerful women characters with whom to empathize, rather than these modern Girls in a post-feminist American comfort. And it boggles me why, as a woman, I would want to watch the graceless foibles of the “women” of Girls  when I could find powerful women characters to watch in another HBO time slot.

The handling of sexuality and female sexual power, for example, comes off as utterly graceless in Girls as opposed to Game of Thrones, which is startling to me considering GoT is the one that goes out of its way to show the debasement of women. In season one of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryan is basically sold to Khal Drogo for an army by her own brother and made to have sex with him on their consummation night. Yet that questionably consensual scene had none of the eye-covering, squirm-inducing awkwardness of the sex scene in the first episode of Girls, where Hannah basically lets herself get used by the “good guy” she’s interested in like a piece of meat. Hannah is not a slave, yet she tosses away dignity that characters like Daenerys or incest-prone Cersei Lannister carry with every instant on screen. And yet people question Martin’s work as misogynistic while Girls, written by a woman, is touted as “fresh.” Everyone’s okay with this?

This isn’t the first time this issue has come to mind. When a lot of my friends in college were enamored with Sex in the City, I was struck by a lack of ability to empathize with the over-hyped adventures of the rich and neurotic. So is it a question of naturally differing taste? Maybe. But there are also modern shows that attempt to portray tough, modern women with debatable success — I’d look to shows like Castle, NCIS, and The Good Wife as examples. Comparing the portrayal of women on Girls versus Game of Thrones brings me to the core issue of what bothers me about the portrayal of a lot of modern women. While women in fantasy novels strive against big issues that are both external and internal, a lot of “modern realistic” women characters seem to be hopelessly trapped in their own self-doubting neurosis. These are women shown to be selling themselves chronically, unbearably short and we, as women, are supposed to see this as a reflection of the modern woman’s woes. Maybe I was mistaken, but I believed our fiction was not only supposed to reflect the modern world but also provide us with figures to understand and figures that inspire. For a fantasy fan like me, these modern portrayals of women often do neither. They usually just make me cringe. 

Fantasy literature as well as film and television have grown over the years to a place where women can stand as their own heroes. Even when they live in worlds with built-in gender issues, they often shine as passionate, powerful embodiments of feminine archetypes, from mothers to female warriors, killers to presidents. Game of Thrones is the inheritor of that legacy and, question though we might the in-world gender issues, Martin has provided us a world where his female characters have depth, passion and vitality. The women of Westeros might worry about whether their gowns look all right, but they are movers and shakers with better things to do than spend entire episodes neurotically analyzing their man problems. GoT’s intense power as a show brings home that in fantasy, we seem to find more authentic women these days than in the realistic fiction, and that disturbs me.

If the white-washed, hopelessly vapid women of shows like Girls are meant to be recognizable as representative of modern issues, then I’ll pass, thanks. I’ll stick to my Starks and my Targaryans. Fantasy has provided the women of strength and dignity that give me something to care for and aspire to. And I’ll take that over “the voice of my generation” any day of the week.

(Oh and yes, I agree with Best Week Ever - Girls should have had velociraptors. Then maybe it would have been watchable.)


Shoshana Kessock is a comics fan, photographer, game developer, LARPer and all around geek girl. She’s the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions and ReImaginedReality.com

37 comments
Edgewalker
1. Edgewalker
I love how a show created by a woman that deals with the issues that people of this generation do face is attacked for being "white-washed" when all the shows on TV created by men that have no people of color are given a free pass.

This is part of the problem, honestly.
Edgewalker
2. Dina
I'm in agreement with this article. Those who castigate GoT for its "gender issues" are missing the point of fantasy and fiction in general. Don't like it? Don't watch. That's what I plan to do with "Girls". Struggling against odds, or floundering in joyless despair? No choice there. Give me a fierce creature over constant neurotic stagnation any day.
Mordicai Knode
3. mordicai
1. Edgewalker

While totally true & a good point to bring up...it doesn't give "Girls" a pass.
Mordicai Knode
4. mordicai
Heaven above I sure did dislike Girls. You inumerated my thoughts really well, so I won't get into the slogging off on it. I was going to say that the actual violence against women in Game of Thrones might be a good reason to pick Girls-verse over Westeros...but then I thought about RAINN statistics & I got depressed about the real world. Dumb old stupid misogynistic real world.
tatiana deCarillion
5. decarillion
Never watched Sex and the City--I couldn't relate to the summary or the character descriptions, when articles and reviews were showing up all over the place, back at its debut. Most female-centric comedies or dramadies don't appeal to me. I don't share any of their experiences, so when I try to watch them, all I have is either disdain or indifference to the characters.

There's something different, though, about watching dramas--fantasy/mystery/crime--with female protagonists. There's almost none of the lameness that goes along with their comedic counterparts and, often a lot of smarts, along with the flaws. This, I like, and can relate to a bit better. (I LOVE King :))

edit: I should note that pseud0-reality dramas are never on my watch-list, nor are desperate housewives :P
Theresa DeLucci
6. theresa_delucci
@1

I don't think anyone's given Game of Thrones a pass. There's Saladin Ahmed's recent essay in Salon and I know I definitely complained about the early portrayal of the Dothraki as nothing more than faceless brown savages and TV-Khal Drogo as being too changed from his book counterpoint in my reviews of the TV show.

I watched the first two episodes of Girls because I often get too lazy to change the channel after Game of Thrones when I'm writing my posts and absolutely hated it. I would feel like a complete loser if I asked my parents to give me "only" $1100 a month so I can be an unpaid intern at the age of 25.

I'm surprised you bring up Dany as a comparison to the women of Girls when a more natural choice, for me, would be Sansa. Sansa is a priviledged young girl who has to deal with a degrading boyfriend. But she is using her own smarts to do her best to stay alive and to learn how to work the system. She's not writing Riverrun or Winterfell asking for her own retainers or coin. (She still seems pretty aimless to me, but she's also not 25 years old. She's just getting out of her "I wanna be a pretty princess phase.")

Sansa will go far in the game of thrones, I think. Hannah will write boring, twee essays about boyfriends calling her stupid and fat.
Edgewalker
7. madainn
Although I too found the girls in Girls to be cringe worthy, and far prefer characters like Arya, I don't blame it on the show itself. When someone is faced with incredible adversity there are only two option: crumble beneath it or rise above it and become strong. The characters in Girls have never faced true adversity, they haven't been forced to be strong, so they are left to worry about relationships and "finding themselves." This is a situation that many modern women find themselves in, although many find more productive ways to deal with it than the characters in Girls.
Edgewalker
8. Leah_Beth
Huh. So I am lukewarm on Girls, honestly - I wrote about it yesterday, though, on my own blog. One scene stuck with me - the girls dancing together at the end of episode three. That, I loved. That rang true to life for me. And I like truth in a show sometimes.

I love a powerful female character - Arya is one of my favorite characters ever written. And Cersei, for all her terrible-ness, is amazing.

But I think the two shows, the two genres, are so completely divergent, it's almost unfair to compare them. Of COURSE we love the strong female characters in Martin's work. Of COURSE the women in Girls (really, they're girls...not women...) make us cringe. We're reacting in ways I expect the writers intended us to react. I don't think Lena Horne ever meant for her characters to be inspirational role models...so we shouldn't expect them to be better than they are. She's showing a slice of real life - some pieces ring true, others do not.

That said, I think both shows have merit...and while I vastly prefer Game of Thrones, I'm not *quite* willing to write off Girls just yet.
Edgewalker
9. Paulie
To me, the irony is that Martin's books are have much stronger female characters than most popular fantasy.

Westeros is a world full of misogyny, but that doesn't mean that George Martin's books are misogynistic. The women in Martin's books are strong and well-rounded, but abused because of the world around them. This violence is not white-washed or ignored. What if Arya, Dany, Cat, Brienne, etc weren't huge subjectivities in these books? It's meant to show bravery in the face of cruelty.

HBO's tried-and-true tradition of "Let's add boobs" to a plot is extremely vile when Joffery is conducting a rape, but lets not confuse the choices HBO's producers have made with the characters that exist in and outside of that TV show.

I'd much rather have my teenage daughter reading about Arya and Brienne than those terrible, self-centered wastes of nice NY apartments that make up the cast of Girls. Who wouldn't?
Edgewalker
10. Kira
@6

Unfortunately I think you might be disappointed in Sansa's progress. I'll leave it to you to judge, but she has always been my least favorite character. And I guess we'll see what changes they make to Dany on the show and where she ends up at the end of the story, but she's second from the bottom on my list. At the top are Brienne and Arya, two ladies who are being their totally badass selves.
Constance Sublette
11. Zorra
Comparing eggs and apples, false equivalencies.

Though personally I cannot stand the garbage that is Girls, any more than the constant debasement of the women on Got. How more neurotic than Lysa, who must be the most all around digusting portrayal of the women in Got.

The real question is why in almost every popular entertainment are supposedly adult female characters so overwhelming shown as stripped of personal identity agency, vulnerable, victims, idiots, silly, neurotic and all the rest. Who benefits from this and how?

The only females we seem to portray in a positive light are very very very young, like Arya or Katniss -- women are most definitely not mothers or likely to be for a very long time. Even Dany, wed at 13, quickly is rid of both spouse and child, remaining then the nubile lust object.
Constance Sublette
12. Zorra
@ 5 -- I think you've explained why in the last few years I've fallen in love with Jane Marple. :)
Karen L
13. changisme
In order to deal with gender issues or misogenistic culture, we have to first recognize its existence. Martin builds his cruel world this way, at the very least is a recognition, and gives his characters an arena to conquer.

Girls also tries to give an arena, but unfortunately, the fighting isn't so exciting. I think a parallel successful fight is Robin from How I Met Your Mother. The show itself has numerous flaws in terms of social issues, but Robin actually deals with a lot of gender and sexual conflicts.

Another show comes to mind is Parks and Recreation. There are a few very well developped female characters in there, but the show lives in an ideal world of no gender discrimination.
Michael Grosberg
14. Michael_GR
So, I just watched ten minutes of Girls. That was enough for me to despise each and every character save for the english girl. That is not such a bad thing in itself: Every character in Seinfeld was utterly despicable and it went on for ten highly successful seasons. Perhaps Girls just rubbed me the wrong way. I don't know. I know I have better ways of spending my time.
That said, I don't think it's fair to use this show to make any
Sweeping generalization about depictions of modern women. Not every show has to present an inspirational role model figure, and Girls is clearly not trying to do that. Perhaps it is trying to warn us.

P.S.
The empty lives of previliged new yorkers, with all its ennui, sex and drugs, is also a major element in Lev Grossman's _The Magicians_ and _The Magician King_. And those are wonderful books.
Edgewalker
15. maus
"I love how a show created by a woman that deals with the issues that people of this generation do face is attacked for being "white-washed"

Oh goodness.

"deals with the issues that people of this generation do face"

Maybe the rest of the country doesn't give a fuck about these nepotistic trustafarians?

"when all the shows on TV created by men that have no people of color are given a free pass."

What a dichotomy! It's impossible for someone to criticize the shallowness of this show and also criticize the maleness/whiteness of other television? Come up with something less laughable next time.
Edgewalker
16. noname
I for one know plenty of twenty-something girls who have just graduated college and still don't really have their 1st real jobs that live off of their parents and act exactly like the girls on "Girls". They worry about boys, how they look, where they are headed in life, all the things that have happened on the show thus far. This might not be what you are looking for as a "stereotype offered of today’s modern woman" but I highly doubt thats what the writers/ creators were going for. They just chose one group of young women who do really exist in real life and tried to make a funny show about them.
Edgewalker
17. sofrina
this comparison makes no sense. epic fantasy versus a contemporary sitcom? they can't really be compared. of course people in a fake magical world are going to strive against oppression. that's the nature of fantasy. comparing it to a depiction of how a certain type of contemporary person caves inward when faced with the first threat of adversity is absurd. as mary tyler moore put it, "pain nourishes courage. you can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you." the chicks on girls don't live in a comparably tough world to that of westeros.

this is a thinly veiled excuse to rant about "girls" in a place where it doesn't belong. that said, i can appreciate that the idea of girls is to appeal to people who are like the characters and to shock those of us who aren't. i had no idea young adult's personal lives were this empty. although, you have to expect this from kids of the "i did not have sex with that woman"/girls gone wild era. in some ways, it even reads like a cry for help. the main character's life is so bankrupt as to invoke pity. unlike gen x, who got assertiveness trained, self-defensed and candle-light vigiled into adulthood, these ladies seem to have been set back a few decades. which is a shocking shame.

still, i think comparing a show that is about the reality of modern life against a show that is essentially about destiny and "the soul's high adventure" is nonsense.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
18. tnh
Any character can be made to seem feeble and boring by having them deal indecisively and dispiritedly with trivial problems. It's the flip side of being to make any character more sympathetic by following them around and watching them do decisive, competent work.

===

Noname, I'm sure that such girls exist. The question is why we're watching them do it.

Are we sure that Girls is supposed to be humorous? I have yet to hear anyone say it's funny.

Sofrina: Yes, the shows can be compared. The author did so. Please speak to the article itself, instead of speculating about why she wrote it.
Edgewalker
19. N. Mamatas
I find Girls to be funny, and so too do many other people.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
20. tnh
Thank you, Nick. I was starting to wonder.
Rob Munnelly
21. RobMRobM
I'm with @19, at least based on first episode. (Still waiting to schedule time together with spouse to see second/third eps.) Being of a particular age, I particularly loved the "No...more...money" bit from the parents. The girls themselves made me cringe a bit, but not everyone in fiction or life can be Sex in the City fabulous, and the off-kilter party/dinner/relationship scenes gave me flashbacks to when I was in my awkward post-college years.
Brandon Lammers
22. wickedkinetic
While I have not yet watched the HBO series in full, I have read the Game of Thrones source material, and I also understand that it is heavily based on real Medieval times, specifically the War of the Roses, and the tech-level, food, and culture of that time is prevalent in the film. He was originally planning a historical fiction or alt-history based in that time but I'm glad he chose to move more into the fantasy genre.

Whatever the reason, I would prefer to say that he captured the general cruelty and hopelessness of most people in those days, a reality that is sorely lacking in almost every romanticized tale of knights and chivalry and nobility and if we just had our true good King every thing would be perfect etc etc....

I agree it is a miserable time for women, although he does show that in certain kingdoms women are allowed to rule (i.e. Queen of England) whereas in other cultures it is only men. He does a brilliant job putting his female characters in very unfortunate situations, but the men and boys don't fair any better. He does show a very misogynist culture, but I think it accurately represents 16th-century European culture, and I don't feel that the author in any way promotes or condones this or any of the other torture or abuse or violence in the books, but shows them honestly and painfully as ugly parts of an ugly world, and many of these scenes are more disturbing to me due to the fact that so little has changed.....

I also watched the first episode of Girls, and found little remarkable about the show itself. We do have a massive culture of hopeless 20-somethings that have no purpose, goal, or hope for the future. It seems they are too 'cool' to get a boring job in corporate america and too unmotivated to chase a challenging education in medicine, or hard science, or higher math, engineering, etc. I'm sure its partly driven by our public education system and news media constantly spewing the 'doom and hopelessness' curriculum. i.e. in the future all life on earth will die because of Hummers and their poor gas mileagae, or our economy is doomed and we're all going to be hiding from Cannibals like The Road by Cormac McCarthy, or alien robots or "Predators" or artifical intelligence or comets or asteroids are going to come along and destroy everything so why bother trying to do something useful with your life..... (but zombies are cool) - etc.

On the other hand I do find the meta-story inspiring and motivational, that a talented, motivated female that doesn't fit the entertainment industries standards (where everyone must be remarkably beautiful and/or surgically enhanced - and ugly people are played by pretty people with bad clothes or dirt on their face.....) is able to both write, direct, and star in her own TV show about women. Sure, its HBO so there is requisite gratuitious adult material, but due to the modern 20-something asthetic, its all presented with the same apathetic ironicality as the rest of the show. Meh.
Edgewalker
23. Evan R
It's more interesting to watch people with real problems than First World Problems.
Mordicai Knode
24. mordicai
18. tnh

I know people who think it is funny. I mean-- I totally accept the verisimilitude of these characters, but that is the problem! I wouldn't spend 30 minutes with them in real life, let alone my fiction viewing. &

14. Michael_GR

What, the English girl is THE WORST.
Edgewalker
25. Elen
Unfortunately I think you might be disappointed in Sansa's progress. I'll leave it to you to judge, but she has always been my least favorite character. And I guess we'll see what changes they make to Dany on the show and where she ends up at the end of the story, but she's second from the bottom on my list. At the top are Brienne and Arya, two ladies who are being their totally badass selves.
What's so cool about being "badass"? Sure, they're cool, but heroes are also oppressors. "Heroic" and "violent" are intertwined.

I actually like Sansa over Arya. Arya is fun to read, sure, but we've seen plenty of characters like her. Whereas, I find Sansa interesting for a heroine of a fantasy series. Martin broke the mold when he created Cersei, Catelyn and Sansa. They are different from their usual stereotypes. With A Song of Ice and Fire, Martin has given women who do not kick butt and wield a sword a chance in the fiction.
Edgewalker
26. Ide Cyan
The women in Game of Thrones are generally either princesses, queens, or prostitutes, and their lives are depicted according to a narrative that skips over most of the parts not relevent to the epic storyline. The young women of Girls are shown living everyday lives as relatively well-off ordinary people. You don't see a half an hour show about the princesses's daily lives at King's Landing -- that's glimpsed briefly in the background as the power players decide, for example, whether marrying them off is a good thing or a bad thing. You get to see Arya's life because so little of it is routine, or Sansa's when she's made aware of what the power players intend for her and there is something she has to react to; Myrcella is barely given dialogue. Dany and Catelyn are on the move to form alliances and try to broker political power, while Cersei is trying to hold onto hers in a precarious situation, but these are not regular lives. The prostitutes or salt wives are brought in for other characters to exposit nearby, but rarely for their own sakes. Roz or Shae are there mainly when Petyr or Tyrion have need of them. They don't get too much chance to smalltalk about sexually transmitted diseases or better job opportunities. Osha, who is one of the rare female recurring characters not to nominally fit those roles, is both enslaved from the get-go and serves mainly to provide Bran with new information, and Brienne, who has just shown up, isn't living much of a routine life either, due to being very close to the main political players.

Conversely, Hannah & the others on Girls are living every day lives, where they are not in the middle of wars and court intrigues or bought and sold in violent plot twists. They do get to talk about STDs and looking for jobs, and have sexual encounters that are about them and their self-images rather than demonstrating that Pycelle is more than he seems or what Theon Greyjoy thinks he's going to find upon going back home.

I'm not saying it's unfair to compare them, but they are apples and oranges as far as their situations and narratives go, and that should be taken into consideration when judging the merits of their respective shows.

Jerry Seinfeld's life was hardly Tyrion Lannister's, either.
Edgewalker
27. chavalah
Jerry Seinfeld's life was hardly Tyrion Lannister's, either.
Very true, but weren't there complaints or at least eye-rolls over the fact that it was a show about self-involved people griping over nothing? Granted, it seems like shows primarily about men can get away with characters like this, without them being compared so fiercely to more impressive specimens in other genres.

Thoughtful point you bring up, Shoshana, about women in "Game of Thrones" who hold onto their dignity despite their misogynistic society, vs those in "Girls" who barter it away. I've seen a lot of arguments about how Sansa isn't a good heroine because she doesn't have the wherewithal to become an active "player" in her own right, but compared to what's going on in the (modern!) "Girls" comedy, she seems to be orbiting around Hannah! Especially in the book...which is sadly under-represented on the show right now.

It's probably worth noting that adversity can lead people into finding their mettle. Ned's death made Sansa realize that the life she was groomed for wasn't such a "fairytale" after all, and in order to survive the people she once trusted, she'd have to put her "armor" on. Certainly if she were completely truthful about what she really feels about Joffrey, or if she actively conspired against him rather than tricking him into freeing a man's life, say, her head might be on a spike. Similarly, Arya can only get away with a little insubordination with Tywin (if she were with Joffrey and Cersei the situation might be much different.) Over all, Arya, too, either has to play along with her captors or face death. The only thing giving her the slightest bit of autonomy right now is that she has a friend willing to help her.

On the opposite end, maybe a little less coddling from others will help Hannah to take control of her life.
Edgewalker
29. ASfandancer
Tor.com, thanks so much for these fascinating reviews. I find the comments simply hilarious. It amazes me how people become so involved and how many get irate about them. I watch Game of Thrones because it is super entertaining and the acting is suburbs. I don't get involved in the issues of how women are treated, gratuitous sex, or all the other points people bring up, I have enough issues of my own. Don't watch Girls nor have I ever seen Sex and the City neither looked at all interesting to me. After reading this article I think I made the right decision. Keep up the good work people, your reviews and comments are sometimes the highlight of my day.
Edgewalker
30. joana.
I completely agree with the article and I really liked reading it and identifying myself with it.
But I guess we don't need to go to Westeros:
http://film.britishcouncil.org/women-in-war-time
Charles Gaston
31. parrothead
I haven't seen either show. I did read the first three Martin novels and found them utterly vile. The characters, and in particular the female characters, were so flat and horrid that I felt no connection or sympathy with any of them. Not Bratty Princess Archetype Subvariant 1 The Snotty Girl, not Bratty Princess Archetype Subvariant 2 The Faux Tomboy, and certainly not the adults, all of whom were sociopathic harridins who think out of their vaginas (yes, this does include Stupid Dragon Lady since she regards the dragons as her children). I will admit that taking those two cliche princess types and breaking them into soulless monsters hasn't been done before, but suggest that there might be a reason for that. All of his characters of either gender, aside from Tyrion (the one I actually did like) and to a lesser extent the Gary Stu-ish Jon, are either stupid, evil, or both.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
32. tnh
Goodness. Whyever did you read the second and the third volumes?
tatiana deCarillion
33. decarillion
@ASfandancer
I'm with you.
I read, but I don't really think much about what goes on in books, as it might relate to real life. They're fantasies (I tend not to read non-fiction), whether they are actually in the genre or not. I read a lot of mysteries, but I never think about the murders or torture or abuse in the context of my own life or real life, in general. Such horrors are not part of my life-experience, so I (fortunately) have no personal context for them.

That's not to say that I don't think about elements of the story or characters when I'm done reading a chapter or even the whole book. I just don't think of them in the context of reality--more like, what if the story had gone this way, or what would that character have done if this had not happened, etc.

On the other hand, when I watch TV comedies/dramadies, they are often set in real-life situations, and it's hard NOT to imagine what I (or people I know) would say or do in the same situations, and it almost never jives with what the characters do. I usually wind up calling them ...well, various things, none of which are positive LOL
Edgewalker
34. missdk
"I read, but I don't really think much about what goes on in books, as it might relate to real life."

@decarillion when your race and/or gender are never shown as heroes or simply diverse human beings but sexual objects or a tokens or a commodities, you don't get that privilege. The way GoT and Girls treats women and race does not exist in a vacuum. Your inability to see that does not make it less true.
Edgewalker
35. Kira
"What's so cool about being 'badass'? Sure, they're cool, but heroes are also oppressors. 'Heroic' and 'violent' are intertwined."

This is usually the case, which I'm okay with. I have no problem with violent heroes. I wish I were able to fight like Brienne or disguise myself like Arya. Though, I'm not sure how these characters are oppressive. To me,
tatiana deCarillion
36. decarillion
It's not that I'm unable to see these things; it's just not what I do, when I read a story. My version of escapism through reading doesn't involve relating the story to real life, most times.
Mostly everything that goes on with women, in this saga, is necessary to the story and appropriate for the setting. The abuse/horrors are akin to what really did happen during the time of the War of the Roses and other eras. These scenes show us what females, among other groups, were up against, making me cheer that much louder when someone rises up against it, especially the girls/women. I don’t think less of the ones who work as whores—they are doing what they can do to survive in that world, and they have no idea or care about being objectified, etc—they just know they are still alive.
I don't read Sansa as a victim. Yes, I was thinking all manner of unkind things about her, while reading, thinking about her self-centeredness. Then, I remembered her age in the books and the fact that she was raised as a noblewoman. That context made her behavior more understandable to me. Once her fairytale fantasy was blown out of the water, she still didn't become a victim, in my eyes--she is trapped, physically, in King's Landing and--she's still a kid and has no allies at court. She does what she has to, to survive--she submits—or so they think. Is submission worse than dying? Not when you're a kid and, only maybe when you're an adult. But, we see flashes of another facet of her--the one that wants to break the bondage. She's just not in any position to do it alone. She wants to live, though, and so she adapts to her environment, both in King’s Landing and beyond. I hope she gets her happy ending, but what are the odds in the world that she lives in? Slim to none.
Edgewalker
37. teeka
I can understand both points of view. I personally enjoy watching Girls and I DO find it hilarious most of the time. I don't think Leah was attempting to portray women who persevere in a male dominated world, or one filled with female oppresion. Like many of the comments above, I believe her characters are young women who are confonting their first "adult" world problems (ie. money, relationships, jobs) however trivial they may seem in comparison to those in GOTs. They are not struggling to survive, they are struggling to "find themselves" which is very real in the lives of many young, post college, not quite a "real adult," middle class, educated, girls and boys. Would it be better to portray a young woman who graduates college and then responsibly tours Europe on his/her savings from waiting tables for years? Or a young woman who graduates and then moves on to law school and has responsible relationships, works several jobs to pay for school, and studies every free minute? Is that what we're looking for? Maybe a victim of sexual abuse and poverty becoming a succesful doctor, mother,and advocate for womens' rights? Oh and a fierce kickboxer that could kich the ass of any man she met if of course. Let's show them what we got ladies! The show Girls was not meant to show women with tragic pasts persevering against all odds. If the women of GOTs were in today's society they would likely be very different no? And like wise, if Hannah found herself in a situation such as Dany I think she too would have a different reaction than that of her current character.
Finally, I have to say, and PLEASE tell me your thoughts on this, I think it's appalling that HBO turned a 13 year-old girl forced to marry against her will and raped repeatedly into a sex symbol. Honestly the author of GOTs also seemed to make the rape and abuse of this character okay with readers. Talk about unrealistic, and yes I know it's a fantasy, but I HATE that men and women are watching this and possibly thinking "well she fell in love with Kohl Drago, she liked having sex with him." Yes, I know she had to make the best of her situtation, but I wish the author had gone about it differently. The character in the HBO series is obviously not 13 and it makes me angry that they used an actress that is clearly so much older and physically mature looking (not that I would have wanted someone 13 to take that part, but someone older who just looked young maybe?) This bothers me way more than anything in Girls. I want to like GOTs so badly, but I can't get over this part of it. Thoughts?
William Fettes
39. Wolfmage
You really shouldn't attempt a take down like this when it's clear you've only watched one or two episodes of Girls. Presupposing that Girls is satirical comedy and that you're meant to find the characters engaging and likeable is an obvious mistake that couldn't survive cursory engagement with the show, if being unable to cite a single element about it that wasn't from the pilot wasn't a big enough clue.

I'm not even a passionate and compulsive watcher of the show, but I've at least seen more than two episodes before forming a judgement. What's more, I've taken the trouble to read pieces about it on feminist blogs and publications and by thoughtful TV reviewers I trust, like Alan Sepinwall, along that journey to tease out what the show is about. Based on that, I think the judgement being made here is pretty awry, and dismissing it because your fleeting first impression of the female characters was unflattering really misses the point.

The show explores the issues, ennui and angst of modern life through the prism of entitled characters who are quite obviously meant to be alienating in many regards.

Ultimately, comparative analysis of Girls and Game of Thrones for feminist credentials isn't worthy undertaking when the issue is framed around asinine critics who confuse is with ought and description with prescription. Anyone who seriously worries that GRRM is somehow endorsing the oblique gender relations in Westeros is not worth considering, and notwithstanding Lena Dunham's friend's relationship with a certain disgusting photographer, her intentions with Girls are similarly benign.

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