“Game of Thrones is among our favourite shows on TV right now, but it has a big diversity problem. Almost all of the show’s major characters are white, which is rather sad considering that shows such as Twin Peaks have championed inclusivity over 25 years ago.
The Game of Thrones universe is set in a medieval age where Westeros isn’t as racially diverse as the world today. Fans of the show can often be heard using this as an excuse to defend the show’s lack of diversity. They claim that since Westeros is based on medieval Britain and western Europe, the lack of major characters being portrayed by non-white people is to keep the show “realistic”.
Of course that argument is ridiculous in a show where there are ice-zombies and fire-breathing, flying dragons. If Thor can be a woman and Captain America can be black then there’s no reason why all major Game of Thrones characters should be white.
Lack of representation
George R. R. Martin himself acknowledged the show’s diversity problem in response to a comment from a fan on his Livejournal page. Martin told the fan that the next book in the series Winds of Winter will feature ‘characters of colour’.
“I do have some ‘characters of colour’ who will have somewhat larger roles in Winds of Winter. Admittedly, these are secondary and tertiary characters, though not without importance,” Martin wrote.
This applies to the book only though, and not the show.
Martin wrote, “I do think HBO and David [Benioff] and Dan [D. B. Weiss] are doing what they can to promote diversity as well, as witness the casting of Areo Hotah, which you mention. Of course, Hotah IS a guard… but he is also a viewpoint character in the novels, a brave and loyal warrior.”
On the TV show in particular, the only people of colour you will witness are savages – without exception. In one particularly galling scene, the white (and blonde haired) Danaerys walks into a crowd of brown people who have been liberated by her cultural values – since no brown people have problems with slavery (apart from the slaves) – and then literally bodysurfs past the worshipful crowd.
It would have been easy for the show to avoid the kind of issues it has blundered into, and Game of Thrones and HBO wouldn’t have had to look too far to find TV shows that tackle the diversity problem head on.
While Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra isn’t the only show to feature a diverse set of characters, it deserves special mention for how deliberately it demolishes tropes. If the Game of Thrones universe reduces most women to non-combat roles, then The Legend of Korra has men and women fighting alongside each other…”