Spoilers ahead for the latest episode of House Of The Dragon, “We Light The Way.”
House Of The Dragon, we have a problem.
A spin-off of HBO’s wildly popular and occasionally problematic Game Of Thrones, this fantasy prequel had every opportunity to course-correct many of the original’s dubious choices. And yet…
Apparently, old habits die hard as House Of The Dragon found itself relying on the same unfortunate trope that plagued GoT—one that’s been all-too-common on television for years: Killing off LGBTQ characters.
We see the trope— known as “bury your gays”—time and time again, from Buffy The Vampire Slayer to Grey’s Anatomy, where queer characters are treated as expendable and frequently offed as some sort of turning point for our (typically straight) heroes.
Previously, on House Of The Dragon, we were introduced to Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate)—a prince who made a pretty bad*ss entrance on the back of dragon—and Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod), canonically queer characters from George R.R. Martin’s source novels. Their arrival was an exciting one that boded well for a series still trying to find its footing.
In the most recent episode, “We Light The Way,” Laenor and Joffrey’s romance was confirmed with a stirring love scene that gave queer fans hope for positive representation—but that didn’t last long.
Laenor is preparing to marry Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock)—also queer-coded—in an arrangement that will keep them politically aligned while allowing the two to enjoy their own relations outside of the marriage. In other words, Laenor and Joffrey would be free continue their fling behind closed doors.
But it’s at the wedding (frequently fraught ceremonies in the world of GoT, it should be said) where Joffrey confronts fellow knight Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) about his past affair with Rhaenyra, and Criston does not take it well. He brutally beats Joffrey to death, thus ending another queer character’s storyline before it has room to go anywhere. We’re left with the tragic image of Laenor sobbing over Joffrey’s body.
Look, it’s a Game Of Thrones story, we get it: People are dropping like flies in Westeros! But it’s hard to brush this particular death off as House Of The Dragon exploits yet another queer character for trauma porn.
Joffrey’s untimely demise calls to mind that of both Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony) and his lover, knight Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones), in GoT: Two more gay men of Westeros whose stories came to callously cruel ends.
Again, its 2022. Why are we still doing this??? By telling an epic new story within the world created by George R.R. Martin, House Of The Dragon had the chance to do right by its queer characters—and its queer fans!
Here’s what Twitter has to say about House Of The Dragon’s employment of the “bury your gays” trope:
They do the queers so dirty on these GOT shows my god
— JOHNNY SIBILLY (@JohnnySibilly) September 19, 2022
house of the dragon doing a speedrun of bury your gays is kind of impressive actually
— ???? (@dunwaIl) September 19, 2022
— out of context house of the dragon (@oochotd) September 19, 2022
— depression (@raccoonmum) September 19, 2022
— Ratcole (@2__jet__2) September 19, 2022
— cade !! (@c4deio) September 19, 2022
Of course, we’re only halfway through House Of The Dragon‘s first season, so there’s still plenty of time for the series to make good and give characters like Laenor and Rhaenyra the complex, nuanced storylines they deserve. But we should be demanding better than this.
New episodes of House Of The Dragon air every Sunday on HBO.