“I’m way cooler in the show”: The Shae Edition

Shae is really the reason I created the “I’m way cooler in the show” series. I don’t like focusing on the little difference between the show and the books — Theon’s sister’s name being changed from Asha to Yara or the Reeds coming in at a different time — too much. But big difference like Robb’s wife, everything that happens during Daenerys’ season two story line, and Shae I would like to talk about.

Anyway, this post is about Shae. The Shae is the books is 18-years-old and a common whore from Westeros. When Tyrion goes to King’s Landing, she doesn’t move into the Red Keep with him. She stays at a house somewhere in the city for a while. She then becomes Lady Tanda’s (she doesn’t exist in the show) daughter’s hand-maiden and hardly ever interacts with Sansa. She does become Sansa’s handmaid in book three, but they still don’t interact that much. She never pulls a knife on anyone, that we know of, and doesn’t seem to be friends with Bronn.

Shae is better in the show for many reasons. One: she is made slightly older — I’d guess mid-twenties — and foreign. That all had to do with the casting. “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss said they made Shae foreign because they needed to reason to explain why she had a accent. She had an accent because they really liked Sibel Kekilli’s audition and gave her the part. Well, when you cast a 32-year-old Turkish-German actress to play a 18-year-old Westerosi, you are going to have to make some changes.

I’m really glad that they did cast Sibel Kekilli. She is an excellent actress, fits the part perfectly and makes Shae mysterious. We don’t find out until “Blackwater” that she is from Lorath and has been in Westeros for 10 years. Before that all we are told is that she is foreign and possibly high-born.

The scene when Shae, Bronn and Tyrion are drinking in his tent before the battle in season one is one of my favorites. We get to learn a lot about Tyrion and his “friends” very quickly. Tyrion doesn’t tell Shae the Tysha story until “Clash of Kings” (book two, which season two is based on). Also, it creates a connection between Shae and Bronn, which is revisited only by a swooping bow in season two, but the connection is there and I like it.

Shae is about as brash in the books as the show, but her relationship with Sansa is what makes show Shae better. All the Stark children seem to find very strange segregate parents,  but “little dove” Lady Sansa being paired with foreign-whore Shae seems to be the weirdest. As Tyrion says making Shae a hand-maiden for Sansa was on of his “better ideas.” I think it was one of the writers’ too. And I love when she tells Sansa she can’t trust anyone not even her, but she still pulls a knife on a Cersei-apointed hand-maiden to protect Sansa.

George R.R. Martin and the show creators take part in a Joss Whedon-like level of strong-female character development. Shae fits into this category weirdly because she is a whore, which makes her occupation only exist for and determined by men. But, Shae is strong, interesting and overall awesome in the the show. And I think far more so than in the books and that is way I decided to dedicate an “I am way cooler in the show” post to her. Keep being awesome, Shae.


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