There are two Daenerys Targaryens: the one in the books and the one on the show.
The book character annoys me, but she isn’t a bad character. She has a sense of purpose. She is now the only known Targaryen heir. She is rebuilding the concept of rulership for a person of Westerosi origin in Essos. (Basically, she does her conquering outside of Westeros.) She is seen in the backdrop of a culture far different than her own. She overcomes a lot of hardship to get to where she is: a forced marriage, the death of her child, the mental destruction of her husband, starvation and thirst across the Red Waste along with continuous politicalization from men who want to own her dragons while they rule through her. She is only 14, sitting on a throne in Meereen that she can barely hold. She moves between acts of genuine kindness to unconscious cruelty. As characters go, she isn’t my favorite, but I enjoy learning of Essos and the hypocritical politics of slave trading in other nation states. We see much of the Planatos world that GRRM built through her character. She is necessary.
The show character started off well, but the showrunners have dithered with her, making her a savior to the enslaved, a mother of dragons, a person without much emotion, a superhero who challenges any male who wants to wipe the floor with her, a sex symbol, a feminist role model, a dragon rider and someone who needs anger management classes. I see that as the show’s inability to know what to do with her. She is preferable in the books by far as she represents something akin to a human being. In the show, she shifts from the greatest thing on earth to someone who has absolutely no idea of what she is doing.
The show took a decently crafted character and made her inconsistent as hell. She has the capacity for great cruelty (I see that in the books as well), but the showrunners are determined to make viewers adore her. So go ahead and call her out on her negative traits and wait for the pianos to fall from the sky onto your head. It is hard to figure out who she is. The show wants viewers to see her as an absolute_______ (insert: tyrant, babe, wonder woman, khalessi, victim, survivor, badass, woman of a thousand titles). I find myself very frustrated with the show version of Daenerys, but the character herself isn’t “bad”. She is poorly developed. The showrunners want to turn her into a feminist icon, which is condescending and dehumanizing as she no longer seems like a breathing human being that pumps blood.
In short, the character isn’t bad as in useless. The book character is very important to the story. The show version has made me very uncomfortable any time she comes onto the screen, but I see that as the showrunner’s unwillingness to probe the ambiguities of Daenerys Targaryen. However, they did start off trying to make her into a fully realized character, but made their own changes. The results have not always worked for viewers.
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