By Brian Henry
Over 8 seasons Sansa Stark has witnessed the execution of her father, mourned the death of her mother and brothers, been held hostage, repeatedly raped, and abused. Through it all, Sansa, the once naive young girl who dreamed of marrying a prince, has emerged as the Lady of Winterfell and even proved key to winning the Battle of the Bastards. So why haven’t more fans warmed up to her?
“I feel like it was just a symptom of her kind of being written as a passive character in the beginning,” Angela Watercutter, senior associate editor at Wired, told Cheddar. “I think her greatest trait for three seasons was that she was able to survive.”
“She survived the Lannisters, she survived Ramsay Bolton, and just kind of perpetuated that it took a long time for people to find other character traits in her because of the way that the character evolved. Now she has risen to all this power … I personally want to believe that people are warming to Sansa.”
There’s also a big contrast between how Sansa and her sister, Arya Stark, were received by fans. In the pilot, Arya was introduced as a spunky tomboy who has since gone on to avenge the deaths of her family members.
“Arya was given this great hero’s journey. She goes off and becomes a faceless man, she kind of does this whole thing, from the very, very beginning," Watercutter said. "With Sansa, it was her sort of surviving things and getting by. Now that she’s become the Lady of Winterfell, people don’t know what to do with her in power in that way.”
In Season 5, Sansa was repeatedly raped by Ramsay Bolton, a plot point that wasn’t in the books the show was based on. Watercutter explained why many critics were upset by the move.
“It’s become sort of like a trope that the show uses a lot. The men on the show have all sorts of things that define their character. Jaime Lannister loses a hand. Tyrion kills his father. All of these other characters have all these great arcs and are still beloved even in all the screwed up things that they do. For Cersei, for Dany, for Sansa, they all sort of survive sexual assault and it becomes one of their defining traits.”
Watercutter chided TV writers for using rape as a plot device, arguing “the men on the show are given much more sort of complex character developments.”
Still, Watercutter credited "Game of Thrones" for creating strong female characters, such as Brienne of Tarth and Daenerys Targaryen, that challenge traditional archetypes.
Will we see a woman on the Iron Throne?
“I want it so much,” Watercutter told Cheddar. “We’ll see.”