'Game of Thrones' Season 2 Has Half the Nudity of Season 1, But Twice the Death
In Season 1, the only people shown committing sexual assault were Dothraki, frequently referred to as "foreign savages." Season 2 brings the constant threat of rape to Westeros.
Photo by Helen Sloan
Broadly counted every instance of rape, murder, and nudity in "Game of Thrones." An introduction to this data and methodology can be read here, along with the total numbers across all seasons.
Notable deaths: Renly
Notable rape scenes: Sansa's attempted rape by King's Landing rioters
Season 2 is the first to include the only woman credited for writing an episode on the show: Vanessa Taylor, who wrote two episodes this season and one in Season 3. This season cut the last's nudity numbers in half, but nearly doubled its numbers of onscreen death. Only one episode passed the Bechdel Test, and there were two instances of rape and attempted rape onscreen. Showrunners also double down an early theme of the show: living under the threat of sexual violence.
While Season 2 has less than half the number of rapes as Season 1, all of the first season's incidences of rape were depicted as "cultural practices" of the "savage" Dothraki. This is the first season in which we see rape in Westeros and how the writers weaponize its threat against viewers. Sansa, whose character arc serves as an inversion of the princess trope, consistently lives under the threat of rape (by Joffrey, The Hound, Littlefinger, etc). In Episode 6, the eldest Stark daughter is chased and trapped by rioters, who then attempt to rape her. The harrowing scene lasts roughly 51 seconds (compared to the 42 seconds of screentime devoted to her rape by Ramsay in Season 5). Sansa's story this season is intertwined with that of Shae, a clever and perceptive prostitute who becomes her handmaiden, protector, and friend. The only episode that passed the Bechdel Test this season includes a conversation between Shae and Sansa, who were playing a game to pass the time at the harbor.
The way in which several of King Joffrey's scenes were written were the worst part of this season. The showrunners consistently underestimated viewers, most egregiously making us endure a way-too-long scene of Joffrey Baratheon forcing two prostitutes to abuse each other when we already understand his character to be stupidly evil from plenty of earlier examples—like having the butcher's boy murdered in Season 1 or beating and humiliating Sansa in court in Season 2, Episode 4.