Wil Johnson and Steve Toussaint in House of the Dragon (2022)

Showrunner Explains Why the Velaryons Are Black on ‘House of the Dragon’—Although He Shouldn’t Have To

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when you include diversity in your fantasy series, annoying fans will start whinging about their franchise being ruined by a light infusion of color. HBO’s Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon has dealt with that from some fans before the show even aired, and one co-writer connected with author George R.R. Martin. In response, co-showrunner and creator Ryan Condal has explained why the decision to make the members of House Velaryon Black was made.

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During an interview with TheGrill for The Wrap, Condal clarified that the decision was not made in order to “tick boxes” but rooted in something Martin said years ago:

“We went to the Velaryons in particular was because that felt like the most fantastical race in the show, and it felt like these were people from a lost continent that we don’t really know that much about,” Condal explained. “We know they all silver hair, we know they have an affinity for dragons, some of them. And we know they are seen, as quoted in the books and in the show, as closer to gods than to men. So what does that all look like? It always stuck with me, this article where George had talked about when he set out to write these books, considering making all of the Velaryons Black, and Black people with silver hair, that always really stuck with me as an image.”

They also decided that the series takes place not that far off from the Doom of Valyria, and considering Valyria was an enormous continent with diversity, to quote Condal: “Why couldn’t there have been a line of Black Velaryons in that in that story? […] And I think if you’re willing to take that first leap of suspension of disbelief, you really come to [the idea that] it feels integrated and intrinsic to the show in an organic way.”

He also goes on to say that this diversity was not done “to tick a box,” which I feel is an unneeded concession to the fans who think diversity is only and can only be for points. “It’s 2022, it’s a different era than the shows used to be made in, we have an incredibly diverse audience that’s not only across America, but in multiple countries that speak all sorts of different languages, that represent all the colors under the sun,” Condal continued. “And it was really important to see some of that reflected up on screen. This is a fantasy world. I think if this was a historical fiction piece, it’d be a more nuanced discussion. But I think simply because of the fantasy world, if we believe in dragons, and shapeshifters and direwolves, we can believe everybody in the story is not white.”

Yet that remains something that some (usually very vocal) fans struggle with. Now, having watched House of the Dragon, it seems so strange to me that anyone could be bothered by this if they weren’t just racist. I say that because it changes nothing about the story. To the point where I’d argue it is almost a colorblind decision. Plus, the actors are doing a fine job. The characters they are playing keep dying so it isn’t as if we need to worry about the diversity of HotD not making sense in Thrones.

It is just a pointless complaint that only serves to make Black fans feel unincluded in a show about incest and dragons.

(via Yahoo News, image: HBO)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.