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Game of Thrones Showrunners Say Fan Criticism in No Way Influenced Season 6

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Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have denied a report that aspects of the HBO drama’s upcoming sixth season were changed in response to online criticism.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, the pair responded to a statement that was made by G.o.T. director Jason Podeswa at a press event in December. When asked about the controversy surrounding the show’s portrayal of certain sexual situations — particularly Sansa Stark’s rape — Podeswa said that fans’ opinions had been taken into consideration by the producers. “They were responsive to the discussion and there were a couple of things that changed as a result,” he said. “They did not want to be too overly influenced by that [criticism], but they did absorb and take it in and it did influence them in a way.”

Read More: HBO: Game of Thrones’ Women Will ‘Power’ Season Six’s Story

However, the showrunners have now claimed that these comments are completely false. “The thing that’s slightly frustrating is the idea that we’re responding to criticism from last year, so therefore we’re going to beef up the female roles – that’s blatantly untrue,” Benioff told EW. “What happens this year has been planned for quite some time and is not a response. We can take criticism – and certainly we’ve gotten our share of it – but hearing people look at a middle chapter of a story and make claims about the story as a whole … it’s not in any way a response to online criticism, or any other type of criticism.”

Weiss was in agreement, adding that online commentary had in no way affected the storytelling of the upcoming season: “I can literally say that not one word of the scripts this season have been changed in any way, shape or form by what people said on the Internet, or elsewhere.”

Game of Thrones returns April 24th on HBO.

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Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com