Two of the most popular shows on the fall TV schedule this year are prequels to highly successful fantasy properties. However, while these shows have their similarities what differentiates Rings of Power and House of the Dragon is the intensity. The head of Amazon Studios, the streamer that releases ROP, has explained that they wanted to make a lighter show and that fans actually asked for it.
Social media has clearly pointed out the differences. In one episode of the Lord of the Rings prequel, we might get some nice songs, convo about the day's food, and that gorgeous warm fantasy lighting. While in the Game of Thrones prequel we are due to get incest, violence, and dark scenes both literally and figuratively. Jennifer Salke, the head of Amazon Studios, talked to Variety about this, explaining:
I’d agree, Lord of the Rings and Rings of Power are properties that families can watch together. I would happily watch both with my parents and younger sibling. However, Game of Thrones and subsequently House of the Dragon are not shows I want to watch in communion as a family activity. The incest in Westeros is for sure more intense than watching a couple of hobbits chat with trees.
One thing both properties have in common is their vast worlds and massive ensemble casts. Both prequels have also hired diverse casts. While they have been praised by critics, both shows have been criticized by viewers for their diverse casting. Especially, Rings of Power, which got review bombed after the first few episodes were released. However, the OG LOTR cast as well as the Rings of Power actors have defended the casting, like Nazanin Boniadi who said it’s reflective of “Tolkien’s image of fellowship.”
This image of fellowship is what separates Rings of Power and Lord of the Rings from the Game of Thrones franchise. As Salke explained putting lots of sex and violence into the show didn’t “feel true” to Tolkien’s vision. Fans have also spoken out about making sure the series fits within Tolkien's world, which is why they requested less violence. Personally, I appreciate how different these two shows are and their different approaches to tone.
If you want to check one or both shows out you can. Rings of Power can be watched with an Amazon Prime subscription and drops new episodes every Friday, while the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, Game of Thrones, and House of the Dragon (with new episodes every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO) can be watched with an HBO Max Subscription.
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Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor and resident Swiftie at CinemaBlend. She also adores (and writes about) Ted Lasso, rom-coms and whatever streaming series is gracing our screens.