HBO's Game of Thrones has always been a magnet for controversy, whether it be for the graphic sexual content, incestuous relationships or the intense violence portrayed on the show. Last season was no different, with many fans lashing out at the fantasy drama series for a disturbing rape scene involving Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and her new husband, Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). With Season 6 debuting on Sunday, April 24, Entertainment Weekly caught up with the show's creators and showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who reveal that none of the stories they're telling this year have been influenced by the online criticism facing the show.
Back in December, Jeremy Podeswa, who directed the Season 6 premiere, made it sound like the opposite. He claimied that negative backlash over the Sansa Stark rape scene had helped create a change in tone, and that some of the stories in these upcoming episodes had been altered due to some of the online outrage. In a story that was widley reported, he had this to say about how David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were course correcting the ship.
"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."
Since hardly any plot details have been released yet, we don't know what's in store for Westeros. But the main female characters are expected to take center stage this year. Even so, D.B. Weiss unequivocally denies that the negative press swirling around last season had any influence on what they're planning. When asked if the beefed up female storylines had anthing to do with the online criticism, he flatly states, 'No.' Here's what he had to say about Jeremy Podeswa's comments from December.
"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. 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."
Even if David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wanted to tweak the show based on criticism from fans, it would be logistically difficult to pull off. The stories are often planned out years in advance, making it almost impossible to adjust after audiences react to any one particular episode. Here's what David Benioff had to say about the negative reactions and how it's dealt with.
"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."
Both of the showrunners recently teased that Season 6 is the best yet, which will feature what they claim is the biggest battle in TV history. While the show has started to release new trailers, there still isn't much we know about what will happen in Westeros this season. Are you glad that the showrunners aren't influenced by all of the negativity surrounding thier actions as artists? Chime in with your thoughts, and stay tuned for more on this hit series as we get closer to the April 24 premiere.