[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for House of the Dragon, Season 1 Episode 7, “Driftmark,” and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Season 1 Episode 6, “Udûn.”]
The newest episode of House of the Dragon picked up some backlash this week after viewers of the Game of Thrones prequel series complained that a few key scenes were so darkly lit, with so little contrast, that they were nearly impossible to watch on many screens.
Speaking for myself, I initially did struggle to watch that scene, but the low lighting was perhaps a blessing. Because otherwise, my throat might have gone hoarse yelling, “That’s your uncle!” at the television.
Right now, we technically have an embarrassment of riches to enjoy when it comes to fantasy television, with Dragon and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power running simultaneously on HBO Max and Prime Video, respectively. For the record, Amazon had announced the Rings of Power premiere date over a year in advance, which means that HBO Max knew exactly what it was doing when it scheduled Dragon to premiere 13 days beforehand; the resulting comparisons have been inevitable, with some people doing their best to frame this as a battle between the two franchises.
Despite those efforts, in so many ways it’s honestly hard to compare the two shows. At least on a creative level, the story being told by Rings of Power Season 1 — the early days of a great epic war between good and evil — is very different from the Game of Thrones prequel series, which is delving into the complex palace intrigues which will eventually lead to a greater conflict between various political dynasties for control over the throne.
But while there’s very little narrative common ground between them, they are unified on one matter: If you are watching either of these shows for romance, you are very much out of luck.