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Rhaenyra Targaryen Actress Milly Alcock Called Out the Misogyny of ‘House of the Dragon’ Fans Pitting Her Against Emily Carey

Rhaenyra listening to music in House of the Dragon

Milly Alcock is taking over the world and has bewitched fans of Game of Thrones with her portrayal of young Rhaenyra Targaryen in the HBO series House of the Dragon. While we only have a few episodes with her given the show’s impending time jump (where actor Emma D’Arcy will take over the role), Alcock has proven herself a powerhouse.

But with this new level of fame comes people breaking apart every little bit of the series, and it often isn’t the best of moves. Speaking with Nylon Magazine, Alcock talked about the friendship between her character and co-star Emily Carey’s Alicent, and the love they shared for one another at the beginning of the season. But she also talked about the reception that the characters and their relationship are getting, both within the show and from the fandom of Game of Thrones at large.

I think it was all kind of written on the page, and Emily [Carey] and I understood very quickly what this relationship meant, and that we really needed to display their unconditional love for each other when we see them. Especially in the first couple of episodes — so that when the demise of that friendship inevitably happens, the audience cares. Because I think the irony that I’ve kind of found over the show coming out, is that House of the Dragon highlights yes, the patriarchy, yes, misogyny, but also the internalized misogyny that these two women are forced to face. They’re forced to be put at odds with one another by the choices by men.

Alcock went on to point out that the dynamic has also ushered in the audience (mostly male audience members) pitting the young actors against each other, in a way that mirrors sexist aspects of the society on the show that no one should be trying to emulate: “But what I found quite hilarious is that the fan base is also putting the actors, the young Alicent and the young Rhaenyra at odds with each other, and choosing who’s better, also by decision of mostly men. So I think that it’s really just fucking ironic.”

The internalized misogyny

This has been, unfortunately, a trend. With the original run of Game of Thrones, it was a “pick your favorite lady” situation online, or “who’s better and why?” and we didn’t really see it with the male characters. Everyone could love a great deal of the men on the series and that was fine, but you were either forced to declare you loved Maisie Williams as Arya Stark better than Sophie Turner’s Sansa or people rooted for Daenerys rather than either of them, and so on and so forth. You get it.

But it also led into a cultural investment in the young actors of the series and their relationships to each other, and who was “better” than the others, in a way that seemed to only extend to the female cast of Game of Thrones. And that seems to be repeating with House of the Dragon. We don’t see people pitting Paddy Constantine and Matt Smith against each other; we’re just appreciating them both, and why isn’t that same feeling extended to Alcock and Carey?

So, to see it still happening, where the young actresses are being put at odds against each other in a “who is better” competition no one asked for, the same way their characters are forced into competition by a misogynist culture, is upsetting. It’s not to say you can’t love one female character above another. It’s that we really don’t need to drag the actors into it, and people doing that is, to quote Alcock, “fucking ironic.”

(featured image: HBO)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.