Awkward-hot is slaying right now. Geek-cute and unique-attractive dudes are finally having their moment in a big way. The classic handsomeness of the Helmsworths and the Efrons is being challenged by the quirky good looks of Daniel Radcliffe and Will Poulter, although he got jacked for his newest movie. The latest unconventional hottie to make us swoon is rebellious and hot-headed Daemon Targaryen from HBO’s smash spin-off GOT series, The House Of The Dragon.
Our latest series obsession comes in the unexpected form of a bad boy with a whiny streak, incestuous future, and narrow cleft chin. Matt Smith’s Daemon Targaryen has dominated our thoughts, and few know why. He is a mess of a person so mired in insecurity, resentment, and complexities it is hard to like him. That’s even before he marries and has children with his niece Rhaenyra. Daemon is kind of a dick. He pokes fun at his dead nephew and steals dragon egg heirlooms just because he wants to. He is duplicitous and scheming and just might be stealing the show. Matt Smith is a fantastic actor but isn’t a traditional Hollywood pretty boy. The Crown alum was outstanding but didn’t cause us all to breathe a little heavier despite his portrayal of Phillip having similar undertones. What is it about Daemon, then?
Maybe the world is ready for something a little more real than Homelander. Perhaps we want a little Karl Urban’s the butcher? The idea of a flawed protagonist isn’t new. However, the antihero is seeing its golden age. These screwed-up individuals who f@#k stuff up as often as making good are more relatable. Humans are messy. Those we look up to should be too. Daemon more than hits that mark. The silver-haired pouter teems with unfulfilled potential and arrogant charm. If TikTok is any measure, we are all thirsty for the Rogue Prince.
It’s not just Matt Smith. A wave of neo-hot dudes has begun taking over space once reserved for chiseled and carb adverse. Just look at Pete Davidson’s storied love life as proof that the once dorks of the world are now killing it. This unconventional, funny man has snagged gorgeous, intelligent, successful women of various ages. It’s not that he is terrible looking. He’s just different from the polished, muscle-bound romance novel covers we are used to seeing as sex symbols. He’s like a neuritic vampire with a sprinkle of self-deprecating honesty. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Either he is the most entertaining, sweetest guy on the planet or has other assets we can only imagine.
Daemon isn’t endearing or a baby-faced Harry Styles type. On the contrary, he’s a disaster that you definitely couldn’t bring home to meet the family. He’s power-hungry, sex-starved, sulky, mean, and violent. He is everything your mother warned you about. This guy has all the warning flags waving at full mast. Yet, I can’t say I’d run from him. I can’t look away anytime he is on screen, and I’ve found myself thinking I would be into it. The swagger and magnetism are intoxicating. The man oozes dirty sex. You just know he’s a freak in the sheets. Sure he may try to kill you or your family afterward, but the guy rides dragons. You know he could offer you a wild ride.
Credit HBO for understanding that The House Of The Dragon couldn’t be Game Of Thrones. It needed to be adjacent to but not an appendage of. As such, the family Targaryen and their many allies and enemies don’t feel like auxiliary players in the greater fight for the Iron Throne. Instead, they are unique characters with their own charms and idiosyncrasies. After all, the only Targaryens we knew in GOT were Jon, Dany, and her turd of a brother. These Targaryens should feel different than the heroic Starks, even though we get glimpses of those who rule in GOT. Even though I know what eventually happens, I want to see it play out. God help me; I need to see Daemon get even crazier.
Smith is committed to bringing Daemon’s manic allure, and he dives head first into the madness. He doesn’t try to sugarcoat some of his baser instincts. Rather he forges ahead and dares you to challenge his honesty. If you were in his shoes, would you act differently? There is the essential question and what makes our hearts pitter-patter. If we are truly honest, we don’t want to marry our uncle, but I understand the ambition and the impotence of being neutered by your older brother. He’s a mirror of what we might be if we were in the same circumstances, and he does it all with a naughty smile and rock-hard erection(or so we are led to believe).
This insecure bad boy longs to be loved. He is so overcome with self-loathing that he can barely function unless he overcompensates by slaying jousters and hurling insults. Bravado seeps out of his pores only because he wills it. Daemon is intelligent enough to know his shortcomings but crazy enough to think he can overcome them. He schemes and plots, ruts, and generally acts like a menace for sport. He is the most interesting man in Westeros and on all our screens right now.
Underneath all that narcissism and conceit is a man who loves his mistress and his family, particularly his niece. He commands respect and loyalty because he is a leader, and leaders, no matter how flawed, are sexy. Considering that most of his bad behavior is due to unfair treatment, he becomes downright likable, at least comparably speaking. Maybe he isn’t the righteous Jon Snow archetype who, despite all the unfairness handed to him, became a just leader and voice of good, but Daemon is mesmerizing.
The erratic prince shouldn’t be ordinary or classically gorgeous. Let’s not forget the Targaryens are an inbred bunch of flaxen-haired dragon-riding hillbillies who might be dinohumans. There must be some reason they bond with dragons. Prince Daemon should look otherworldly. He’s the razor-cheeked monster who’s familiar and foreign simultaneously. Matt Smith is perfectly cast as this unpredictable dragon lord. He’s the obnoxious dude you think you could fix with enough love and support.
I know a relationship would end badly. I would be swept up in so much family drama and probably dead. But, I can’t help but want my dragon rider on the storm. I do love a rainy night.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.