This weekend, fans of House of the Dragon were (once again) in uproar about the poor technical presentation of the show, with scenes so dark that many viewers said they couldn't see what was going on or tell who was talking. When it was called to their attention on social media, HBO simply reacted by saying that it was "an intentional creative decision," and ignored the blowback that caused. Which, honestly, is no surprise, since it's the same thing they did in 2019, when the same thing happened with an episode of Game of Thrones, the show that House of the Dragon spun out of.
Going back to the parent show, the Battle of Winterfell episode "The Long Night" sparked so much backlash over the dim lightning, director Miguel Sapochnik's cinematographer Fabian Wagner (Overlord) defended the stylistic choice in lighting, saying that it was a thematic and stylistic choice to make the shifting turns of fate, dark emotions, or ideas of darkness vs. light all part of the visual aesthetic.
"I wanted to evolve the ... [to make the] storytelling of the lighting evolve with the storytelling of the characters," Wagner said at the time.
But if you aren't so frustrated that you're ready to turn it off, there are a few things you can do to improve the visibility in the episode.
Over at Vulture, they've figured out that "The majority of us are watching it at the wrong time of day. House of Da Dragons is, quite simply, a morning-time banger."
No, really. Here's how Tirhakah Love breaks it down on the site:
[I] have an adjustable hue light next to my decade-old smart TV that I usually brighten to the max so the screen can respond in kind.
So why is this different from the nighttime? I'm very glad I asked. Watching this show when it airs usually means a couple things: (a) The home is dark, so our TVs can't find additional light to adjust to (TVs usually darken as to not be too intense on the eyes), and (b) everyone else is watching the show, and like GoT before it (if to a lesser degree), it's still very easy to slip into watching Twitter for live reacts to the episode. I'm not saying that critics succumb to the distractions — it's literally our jobs not to, and many have watched in advance anyway — but that doesn't mean we're above our impulses. I think the morning time sorta implies a quieter setting and less of a need to be privy to what the rest of the world is thinking.
House of the Dragon airs new Season 1 episodes Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.