Game of Thrones: We should all celebrate Arya and Gendry’s relationship


Arya and Gendry finally made it official this week on Game of Thrones, and their hookup is something all fans should be celebrating.

Gendrya shippers’ dreams came true this week on Game of Thrones, as Arya Stark and Gendry finally gave into the attraction that’s been apparent between them for years.

Of course, a major motivation for them finally giving the people what they want is that they both think they’re likely to die within the next 24 hours. But, given that they both have been staring at each other longingly for years, it certainly doesn’t feel as though their love scene is an unearned one.

For many viewers, however, watching Arya’s sudden (and generally unexpected) first time was more than a bit uncomfortable. Part of this is likely due to the fact that we’ve literally watched both Arya and the actress who portrays her, Maisie Williams, grow up onscreen. For these folks, Arya suddenly – and quite forcefully – demanding sex with Gendry probably feels like accidentally walking in on your little sister hooking up with her high school boyfriend whose name you’ve never really bothered to learn.

(Though one does have to wonder whether these folks feel equally as uncomfortable when Arya is slitting throats, though? Or only when her sexual agency is involved? Seems like a fair question that no one’s really asking.)

We should not only be happy for Arya, we should also be glad that Game of Thrones decided to spend some of its precious final season airtime on this particular couple snatching some small piece of joy in front of what is surely impending horror and doom.

Remember, Game of Thrones isn’t usually a show that depicts sex in a way that is romantic, caring, or often times even consensual. Think about it – when was the last time we saw a couple get together sexually in a way that left no doubt about anyone’s enthusiasm for the event or feelings for one another? Jon and Daenerys were clearly into the situation when they got together last year, but since their entire encounter is generally marred by the fact that we know that they’re related, it does kind of cast a pall over events. Maybe Greyworm and Missandei in season 7? Or do we have to go all the way back to Sam and Gilly in season 5?

Far often than not, the sexual relationships we see on Game of Thrones are born of duty at best, or violence at worst. Sansa Stark has spent most of her adult life living under both the specter and reality of physical and sexual assault in some form or another.

Daenerys Targaryen was basically sold to a man whose language she didn’t speak and has now slept with her own nephew. Even Cersei, a queen who’s been perfectly comfortable telling the world she’s sleeping with her own brother, has to give herself over to a disgusting man she doesn’t seem to particularly like much because she needs access to the resources he can provide.

To put it mildly: Female characters don’t exactly have it great in the romance department on the show.

Arya, thankfully, doesn’t have to face any of those things. Her first time is 100 percent her own choice, both in terms of the fact that it happens at all, and who it happens with. She isn’t forced, manipulated or tricked into sex.

Instead, she chooses a man she already has a great friendship with and has clearly always fancied. And she directs almost every aspect of their encounter, from initiating it to removing her own clothes. (In fact, she even tries to give Gendry some of his own agency back after he tells her about what happened with Melisandre.) In the world of Game of Thrones, this is honestly one of the healthiest relationships we’ve possibly ever seen on the show.

And let’s remember, technically, Arya’s still a teenager. Not wanting to die a virgin seems completely relatable – in fact, it’s one of the few absolutely normal, age-appropriate things she’s done since probably the series’ first season. I mean, this is the same girl who killed a man’s kids and fed them to him in a pie. She deserves the chance to do something as simple as have sex with a boy she likes.

Arya and Gendry’s night-before-battle encounter is not only a nice reminder that Game of Thrones still understands the concept of consent, it lets us know that the show is still capable of giving us some happy moments amidst what will likely be a bloodbath of final episodes in which we’ll lose many of the characters we love. And given the horror that’s surely waiting for both Arya and Gendry, do any of us actually expect both of them to survive the season? 

Allowing the young couple to share one night of happiness feels like a gift to us all, and one which I wish we could pass along to all our faves before the end.

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Game of Thrones continues next Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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