- Female characters in “Game Of Thrones” only had 25% of speaking time across all eight seasons, a study found, leaving 75% of the lines to men.
- In the final season – which finished on Monday – women only got around 22% dialogue, even as strong female characters like Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen came to the fore.
- The figures place “Game of Thrones” in a worse position than an industry average, where 71% of lines went to men and 29% to women.
- This post does not contain spoilers for “Game of Thrones” season 8.
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Male characters in “Game of Thrones” have about 75% of speaking time, according to a new study for the BBC, leaving only one-quarter of the lines to women.
Despite the prominence given to powerful female characters like Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen, the data shows that “Game of Thrones” still awarded a very large majority of dialogue to its male protagonists.
It also fell short of the industry average of 71% of lines going to men and 29% to women.
The split was identified by Swedish data company Ceretai, which used algorithms and machine learning to record whether a man or a woman was speaking.
Lisa Hamberg, who co-founded Ceretai, told the BBC that the new study shines a light on how women are portrayed in popular culture.
“We are not doing this to make people stop watching, but to make them aware of the fact that it’s an unfair representation of the world”, Hamberg said.
The figures compare unfavorably to a study by academics at the University of Southern California. By analyzing nearly 1,000 scripts for feature films, they found a 71%-29% split between men and women.
The algorithm used to analyse “Game of Thrones” had an accuracy of about 85%, Ceretai told the BBC, meaning a more accurate analysis could give slightly different figures.
The data showed that women’s speaking time fluctuated across the show – starting at 24% in the first season and reaching a peak of 31% in season seven.
The last season fared worst – even though female characters like Cersei Lannister, Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, and Daenerys Targaryen had pivotal storylines in those episodes. Only 22% of lines went to women in Season 8.
The split was also especially pronounced in the show’s finale, with male characters speaking about 80% of the time, the research showed.
Game of Thrones has often been criticized for oversexualizing female characters and romanticizing violence against women.
In season five, many viewers were outraged that the series used a rape scene solely as a storytelling device, while in this season much anger was directed at the abrupt death of another female character (click here for the story, which contains spoilers), which also prompted accusations of racism.
But the female characters’ lack of speaking time may come as a surprise to some fans.
Dr. Stephanie Genz, a media studies lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, told the BBC that women are often visible on-screen in “Game of Thrones,” but are not necessarily well-represented.
Dr. Genz said the show often has women “speak with their bodies,” which means that “the audience will not notice how little they speak.”
“It’s just confirming what we know in society anyway – that women’s voices are underrepresented,” she said.