But why do I keep coming back to Arianne being my character when there are other fantastic female characters in Dorne? In the series as a whole? Why does this feel like such a personal slight, as well as socially irresponsible?
The answer I keep coming back to is that when I read the books, I picture Prince Doran Martell as my dad.
It truly means more than I can possibly say that they cast Alexander Siddig as Doran Martell. Even better, he looks nothing like my dad, which I’ll be grateful for when they give him a sexposition scene. However, his casting would mean more to me if they had given him a daughter. A willful daughter who fought him, and did not listen to him, and loved him, and eventually came around to understanding him. To the best of my memory, the only tender scene between an Arab man and his daughter I’ve ever watched on screen — and I watch A LOT of television and movies — is in Aladdin. So that’s fucking upsetting.
I had a horse in this race and HBO shot it and the jockey out back before the starting signal. I needed this. And If I needed this, I can’t imagine how many other girls of color out there needed this. Given the prevailing cruel and sexist stereotypes of Middle Eastern men in American media and culture, I can’t imagine how much good a hit show like Game of Thrones could do by simply having a strong and complex father-daughter narrative.
I’m not saying television owes me anything. But what I am saying is that cutting an Arab (or North African, or Indian) woman who’s the center of her story is more than “streamlining” the show. It’s actively hostile, it’s lazy, it’s sexist, it’s racist, and it’s a big deal.