The short answer is yes, but it will probably be nothing to write home about and is unlikely to include any main characters. So in a way, that’s almost a soft “no.”
I watched the first episode of House of the Dragon today, The Heirs of the Dragon, an episode name also fitting the new series’ place as a sort of heir to HBO’s Game of Thrones series. It had two nude scenes and one near miss.
The first scene is the near miss. The queen is in a bath tub, and as people tend to be when bathing, she is naked. If you’re hoping for a repeat of the iconic nude scene with Emilia Clarke lounging in and then rising out of the bath tub when she played Daenerys Targaryen, banish the thought. The bathwater is completely opaque, and the actress stays below the waterline at all times.
The second “nude” scene and the first proper nude scene in House of the Dragon features an actress whose name I cannot find because her character is not named in the show. If you’re either eagle-eyed or desperate, you can catch a few flashes of nip throughout this scene. If you’re an ass man, you will probably be a bit more satisfied.
The last nude scene is split in two in the episode. Doctor Who is enjoying an orgy, and a whole lot of naked women and men can be seen in the background. Not a single one of these characters has a speaking line, let alone names.
So why am I harping on about this? Because it runs contrary to the wormy appeasement and grovelling that HBO have been vomiting over the past month or so. As The Telegraph points out, Game of Thrones was marred by (rightful) accusations of “sexposition,” where gratuitous, pointless nudity was on screen during what were often dry monologues in a lazy effort to not lose the audience. The New York Times sums up HBO’s stance on the matter by referring to House of the Dragon’s approach as being “self-consciously tasteful, popping up like a diorama in a natural-history museum.” So naturally, I’m curious as to how they’ve done this by having literally all of the nudity in the first episode done by unnamed characters and all but one nude actress having no speaking lines at all.
There seems to be little consensus on the topic, and it’s to the point where reports on it vary so wildly that it’s not even clear that everyone is talking about the same show. Our friends from the Emerald Isle claim that there will be “plenty” of nudity on display, and Steve Toussaint, who plays Lord Corlys Velaryon in House of the Dragon, told audiences that there would still be nudity, if not quite as much as in GoT. IndieWire report a “multitude of nude and sex scenes in Season 1” and that the creators of the series have claimed them “necessary” to the story. Matt Smith has even added his two cents in an interview with Rolling Stone about how there were too many sex scenes and that they were unnecessary.
The whole approach from HBO has shown a strange misunderstanding about the appeal of nudity in these kinds of shows, Game of Thrones included, among the new generation of showrunners. When approached about nudity, on multiple occasions, this was automatically associated with “sexual violence,” as if the two concepts cannot be separated. Salon identified a flipflop in HBO’s position on even this, where showrunner Miguel Sapochnik told The Hollywood Reporter that the show would not “shy away from it” and “shine a light” on it, while executive producer Sara Hess told Vanity Fair that sexual violence would not be depicted on screen at all.
The reality of the situation will make itself clear over the next two months and a bit as the debut season of House of the Dragon unfolds, but I’m likely to take this pilot episode as an indicator of the direction of the rest of them. For what it’s worth, the careers of the four main actresses by and large do not show form for nude scenes, let alone gratuitous ones.
Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, who play the younger Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower, respectively, do not have any previous nude scenes under their belt, and given HBO and television at large’s habit of frontloading nudity in the first one or two episodes of an actress’ appearance in a show, it’s unlikely that they’ll start now.
Emma D’Arcy plays the (relatively) older Rhaenyra, and the story is the same with her, although to be fair, she hasn’t had her debut scene in House of the Dragon yet, so we don’t quite have the full story there, meaning hope remains.
The most hope I’m reluctantly holding onto, however, is for Olivia Cooke, who plays the other half of the Alicent Hightower role. The Mancunian actress has brief nudity in both The Quiet Ones (2014) and the appropriately named Naked Singularity (2021), with a considerably more gratuitous naked appearance in 2016’s Katie Says Goodbye. Olivia has yet to appear on screen in House of the Dragon, so I’ve got all fingers and toes crossed that if we ever do get some top tier nudity out of the show, it’ll be from her.
Don’t worry. I don’t intend to make tedious, unfappable posts like this a regular fixture. Titties will follow. In the meantime, I leave you with this bizarre moment from the first episode.
UPDATE – Aug 29
No, there wasn’t any nudity in episode 2, but the character who had a nude scene and a line in the pilot episode was given a name (and a much bigger role) in the episode that followed.
Her name is Mysaria, and she is played by Japanese–British actress Sonoya Mizuno of Ex Machina fame. Given this revelation, I have gone back and given her nude scene the due consideration it deserves. It’s got a new (significantly superior) lick of color correction, proper editing, and a selection of stills captured from it.
Looking forward to not be disappointed by episode 3, but not exactly holding my breath.
UPDATE – Sep 5
Episode 3: Second of His Name contained no nudity, no lewdity, no allusions to either, and I think at one point it gets made canon that every person in Westeros has the body of a Ken or Barbie doll or a Sim when you remove the blur.
I will of course continue to monitor the situation, as I am now also doing for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
UPDATE – Sep 12
Episode 4: King of the Narrow Sea finally has the kind of nudity we were waiting for.
That’s right. The actress who plays Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, who had never done a nude scene before, has finally done one. It’s not the most gratuitous of nude scenes, but which madman would pass up the opportunity to see Milly Alcock naked?
There are actually two Milly Alcock nude scenes in the episode, but as I write, I’m not convinced that the first of them has any visible nudity. By the time you read this, the full analysis will probably already be up. If there is a link in this paragraph, then follow it to see for yourself and get the final answer.
By contrast, we could have gotten an Emily Carey nude scene in this episode as well, but did not. Young Alicent Hightower is having sex with her husband, King Viserys Targaryen, but she is doing so while wearing a Westerosi bra. Yes, a sex scene involving a bra. What sad times we live in.
There are also ten million extras who appear naked in a King’s Landing pleasure house in this episode, but none have names or lines.
My hope for suitable nudity from House of the Dragon is somewhat restored, and I will continue to follow future episodes in the hopes of more, as I have been doing with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
UPDATE – Sep 19
I know what you’re all here for, so I’ll skip right to the chase. This episode had no nude scenes.
After the previous episode contained that great extended nude scene with Milly Alcock, including her lounging around in a whorehouse and having sex with Ser Criston Cole, I really did think that even though we only had one episode left with the Australian actress, the last episode to have her in the role of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen would include some nudity from her as one final hurrah. No such luck.
The weirdest thing about it is that – without dropping any spoilers – this episode did cover Rhaenyra’s wedding. Admittedly, I don’t remember this element featuring in HBO’s adaptation Game of Thrones, but if you’ve read the books in the Song of Ice and Fire series, you’ll know that weddings in Westeros contain some rather choice customs that give producers the perfect excuse to shoehorn a nude scene into a show – you know, when it is necessary “to progress the story” (in the way that the graphic orgy scenes from the pilot episode definitely didn’t, but who’s keeping track?).
If you haven’t read the books, what I’m referring to is the practice of stripping the bride and groom completely naked at their wedding right there in front of everyone. Yes, really. And since the source for that seems to be a Sansa chapter, I’m glad I’ve finally figured out what purpose those POVs served other than giving readers a chance to zone out as they move through.
Suffice it to say, no such public stripping happened at Rhaenyra’s wedding – not of Milly Alcock, not of her groom, not even of any background orgy guests à la the first episode.
As for any scenes of Emily Carey nude, for all the talk in last week’s article in The Guardian about the young actress doing sex scenes on camera for the first time, we didn’t get anything lewd last week, and there was nothing even approaching nudity from Emily in this last episode of hers in House of the Dragon.
Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke join the cast next week in the roles of Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower, which they will carry in the remaining five episodes of the season. Does that give us enough time for some nude scenes out of them? Time will tell, and I will continue to update this post every week with any news.
UPDATE – Sep 26
Episode 6: The Princess and the Queen aired last night. We said goodbye to Emily Carey without a parting nude scene and Milly Alcock with just the one. The roles of Queen Alicent and Princess Rhaenyra were filled by Olivia Cooke and Emma D’Arcy, neither of whom got naked in the episode.
There’s really nothing more to say at this stage other than that there are 4 episodes left to air, and we can do naught but keep our fingers crossed for results in the future.