The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power showrunner Patrick McKay promises the series won’t have Game of Thrones-level sex and violence. Both fantasy franchises are gearing up for the release of highly anticipated prequel shows. Before Game of Thrones came to a controversial conclusion in 2019, HBO was developing several spinoffs set in George R.R. Martin’s mythical land of Westeros. One of them, House of the Dragon, will air sometime this year. The series is set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones and chronicles the fall of the Targaryen house.
On the other hand, the Lord of the Rings prequel series has been gestating since 2017 when Amazon purchased the television rights and made a $1 billion commitment to produce five seasons of the show. This includes an estimated budget of $465 million for the first season alone, which is bigger than the combined cost of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Developed by the duo behind the Star Trek Beyond script, McKay and J.D. Payne, The Rings of Power is set thousands of years before J.R.R. Tolkien’s works (save for The Silmarillion) during the Second Age of Middle-Earth. Though it stars a relatively unknown cast, familiar characters like Galadriel, Elrond, and Sauron will be returning.
For Vanity Fair’s first look at the series, The Rings of Power showrunners recently spoke to the publication about what fans should expect from the Lord of the Rings series. McKay was very clear about one thing: the show will not feature Game of Thrones-level sex and violence and will instead be aimed at everyone, even “kids who are 11, 12, and 13.” Read what he had to say below:
[The goal was] to make a show for everyone, for kids who are 11, 12, and 13, even though sometimes they might have to pull the blanket up over their eyes if it’s a little too scary. We talked about the tone in Tolkien’s books. This is material that is sometimes scary—and sometimes very intense, sometimes quite political, sometimes quite sophisticated—but it’s also heartwarming and life-affirming and optimistic. It’s about friendship and it’s about brotherhood and underdogs overcoming great darkness.
Concerns about adult content in the show began to swirl after a rumor surfaced that Amazon had hired an intimacy coordinator for its New Zealand set. This even prompted a petition from Lord of the Rings fans demanding that nudity be kept out of the show. Now, it certainly sounds like these rumors about the show containing nudity were unfounded. McKay’s comments indicate the show will be family-friendly and honor Tolkien’s original vision. After all, The Lord of the Rings was a sequel to a children’s book, The Hobbit.
McKay’s comments shouldn’t be that surprising, given every one of Jackson’s adaptations were rated PG-13 and featured virtually no nudity and kept graphic violence to a bare minimum. Though a few other fantasy shows have been accused of copying off the cultural sensation that Game of Thrones was with gratuitous nudity and violence, it doesn’t sound like The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will be guilty of such. Instead, it will look to honor the spirit and vision of Tolkien’s works.