Why The Vikings Creator Has Problems With Game Of Thrones

Vikings is a show about big, bold dreams and conquests, which occasionally leads to violence and more. However, Vikings creator Michael Hirst has always maintained that the History series is not gratuitous in ways that subscription cable and even some cable shows are. Recently, he took that claim a step further, calling out specific TV programs for the “unnecessary” ways that they depict r-rated concepts. He’s what he specifically had to say about HBO’s popular and critical darling, Game of Thrones.

I feel like a lot of other people, that sex in Game Of Thrones and other shows is completely gratuitous and unnecessary and a lot of the violence is gratuitous... It's largely to shock.

I’ve read some pretty bold statements from showrunners before, but this one really takes Game of Thrones to task, and follows sentiments some critics have expressed over the fact that nudity is so blatant on the series, not to mention the way rape has been handled on the show. However, what Michael Hirst does not mention within his talk with the Press Association is that HBO also has more freedom to reflect a world full of violence and nudity than the History Channel series does, and that both networks obviously have more creative freedom in terms of battles or relationships than network TV would.

In fact, the comments are coming after Vikings chose to show a woman being whipped in a dungeon at the end of the third season of the series. But Hurst is adamant that his show’s depiction of sexual relations—and in that case BDSM—is neither gratuitous nor unnecessary. In fact, he says that the plotline featuring Count Odo and the courtesan getting whipped in the dungeon will pay off in a really big way.

It's part of (Odo's) character so it's not gratuitous.

Past plotlines have also included Lagertha stabbing her former husband in the eye and taking over his earldom, so I wouldn’t exactly call Vikings a passive or nonviolent series. In fact, we've seen some gruesome stuff from most of the characters, and you really need look no further than what Ragnar did to his enemy Jarl Borg a few seasons ago.


Then, in last week’s Season 4 opener, one dude literally lost his balls, which is very similar to a certain plotline we’ve seen on Game of Thrones. What Vikings does have going for it that Game of Thrones does not is the fact that the Vikings were known for plundering and violence. Hirst and the rest of his team are striving to be as historically accurate for the period as they can be when producing Vikings while Game of Thrones gets to produce as much fantasy as it wants. Still, there’s probably little point in calling the kettle black.

Vikings only recently returned to the History Channel this past week, and will be airing on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. ET. In addition, History recently doubled the order of the hit scripted drama, so 20 episodes will be produced for Season 4. That for certain is a hell of a lot more episodes than Game of Thrones. You can find out more about the new season here.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.