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House of the Dragon v Rings of Power

A Comparison in Relationships

By Alexandrea CallaghanPublished 11 months ago 3 min read

With House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power being released and concluded around the same time fans can’t help but compare the two, at least a little. Though the two share the same overarching genre, their subgenres are different. House of the Dragon is medieval fantasy whereas Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power is high fantasy. Now to be clear House of the Dragon, and Game of Thrones simply would not exist without Lord of the Rings and Tolkien. Let's not pretend that George R.R. Martin came up with original thoughts, he simply rearranged the furniture Tolkien built.

Now the main point of dissonance between these two wildly popular pieces of media is how each adaptation treats its female characters. In Rings of Power Galadriel is front and center, she is depicted as a leader. A strong, capable leader who can more than hold her own in a fight. The other main woman we have in the Rings of Power is the Queen of Numenor and though these women started at odds they ended up fighting alongside each other. The women are also front and center in House of the Dragon but Rhaenyra and Alicent are constantly at odds. I’ve said a plethora of times about House of the Dragon that acknowledging sexism and then leaning into it is not the same as commenting on sexism. Alicent is constantly at the mercy of the men in her life, her father, her husband, and her son. She has no agency, every decision that she has ever made was forced by a man or in favor of one. Rhaenyra is strong and badass but she is also overlooked and challenged simply for being a woman (which is their intent but their execution is not awesome). Now we can also learn a lot from the internet's reaction to these two shows. Bitchy fanboys really hate Galadriel in Rings of Power and yet they have no real problem with either woman in House of the Dragon. The obvious reason being that Galadriel isn’t sexualized or submissive, yet Rhaenyra and Alicent are.

Another major point of division is how the male relationships are depicted in these two shows. Tolkien is really known for his male friendships. Lord of the Rings is one of the best depictions of male friendships in all of media and Rings of Power continues that tradition. Elrond and Durin have the most loyal, sweet and playful friendship. It's kind and fierce, they truly love each other and one simply can not get enough of them on screen. House of the Dragon however lacks male friendships entirely. Because of the political nature of the show the men are constantly at odds with each other the only male relationship we really got to see was Dameon and Viserys. Granted we did get to see that relationship evolve. Viserys started protecting his brother, then exiling him. Dameon started by rejecting his brother, then missing him, then loving him. Through not a lot of screen time (that's the bad execution part) these men went through a lot of changes in their relationship.

The last real point of dissension is the way that the parental relationships are depicted across the two shows. In Rings of Power we see Bronwyn and Theo, Elendil and Isildur, and the King and Durin. Though these relationships all have quite a few differences which I will discuss at length in a very different article, they are all very protective. The parents of Rings of Power are fiercely protective, and sometimes harsh because of that. In House of the Dragon we see the relationship between Rhaenyra and Viserys, Alicent and Otto, Alicent and her children, Rhaenyra and her kids, and Daemon and his. Now again, all these relationships are very different but for the most part they are manipulative and neglectful, at least on team green’s side, and Daemon. House of the Dragon is filled with abusive relationships that simply aren't in Rings of Power.

I am a huge fan of both series, now Rings of Power is better for one particular reason…it's not sexist. Nothing in its writing or in its depiction is problematic whereas (though the season gets better as it goes on) House of the Dragon is sexist. Whole episodes were seriously questionable and there is simply no excuse for that.

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About the Creator

Alexandrea Callaghan

Certified nerd, super geek and very proud fangirl.

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