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House Of The Dragon Writer Sara Hess Doubles Down On Her Stance On Daemon Targaryen

If you've made it this far without learning the term "Internet Boyfriend," congratulations — and condolences, because your streak is about to end. In this age of constant social media posts, an "Internet Boyfriend" is basically an actor or character who becomes the object of a ton of projection online, with fans obsessing over this real or fictional person nonstop, like Oscar Isaac or Noah Centineo as two prime examples.

Lately, a truly unexpected candidate for the latest Internet Boyfriend has emerged: Matt Smith's Daemon Targaryen from "House of the Dragon," an incestuous, violent, and relatively unstable guy who definitely doesn't seem like he'd bring you breakfast in bed or anything. In conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, "House of the Dragon" writer and producer Sara Hess echoed these sentiments, saying, "He's become Internet Boyfriend in a way that baffles me. Not that Matt isn't incredibly charismatic and wonderful, and he's incredible in the role. But Daemon himself is ... I don't want him to be my boyfriend! I'm a little baffled how they're all, 'Oh, daddy!' And I'm just like: 'Really?' How — in what way — was he a good partner, father or brother — to anybody? You got me. He ain't Paul Rudd."

Sara Hess got harassed over her take on Daemon Targaryen

Naturally, these comments stoked some controversy online, and according to Hess herself when speaking to Vanity Fair after the fact, she faced some pretty awful backlash.

"Let's just say that the themes of our show are very relevant IRL," Hess said. "I mean, I'm a woman writing a fantasy show, so I'm well aware of the special ways People Online choose to express what is basically, 'You and I have different opinions.' I mean, obviously I was being a bit glib. And I'm not at all shocked by Daemon's popularity...he's an iconic, fascinating character, and I love writing him, and in Matt's hands he's charming and charismatic and riveting to watch."

Hess, however, wants viewers to be... shall we say, realistic? "My dude killed his wife! Among other things," she continued. When it comes to Rhaenyra, though, Hess allows that the two are truly bonded on a very deep level. "Saying they 'love' each other seems almost too simple," Hess says, "it's more that they have a profound, primal connection that nobody else understands." Proving that Daemon is, again, full of contradictions, Hess did go on to qualify her statement, bringing up how the two forged their romantic connection: "He's a grown man and she's a child, and he uses the fact that she admires him to influence her. He takes her to a sex club and then when things get too real he abandons her in the middle of town."

George R.R. Martin plays favorites with his characters, apparently

According to the Vanity Fair piece, Daemon, with all his good and bad qualities, is actually original series author George R.R. Martin's favorite Targaryen. "I was actually texting about this with George the other day, and he reminded me of that quote about Byron: 'Mad, bad, and dangerous to know,'" Hess revealed. "And that, from a character standpoint, is super interesting to us. We're working on season two right now and really getting into exploring his psyche and taking him on a journey to where he needs to end up."

So how do Hess, Martin, and Daemon fans come to terms with him choking Rhaenyra in the series finale in a moment of naked fury? "I have no idea if it shifts anything," Hess admitted. "I kind of doubt it." Still, he's fascinating for a reason; as Hess points out, Martin describes Daemon as being "equal parts light and dark," and Smith's portrayal definitely makes that clear. "'Good' people do awful things sometimes, and 'bad' people can be unexpectedly kind or noble," Hess concluded. "I think it's a condition of our current political moment that we want to believe in absolutes. And humans aren't absolute."

Daemon and all his multitudes can be seen on "House of the Dragon," which is streaming on HBO Max now.