If you’re not a devoted Game of Thrones watcher, please move away.

Sean T. Collins has a post about the recent rape problems on the show that kind of echoes what I’d been thinking. Basically, that the Jamie/Cersei rape scene wasn’t necessarily a fatal misstep, given that we don’t know where these characters are going…but the problem is that it probably wasn’t meant to be a rape scene by the producers, a view supported by the confused interviews they’ve given about the scene in question.

Collins also brings up the real problem in the matter: HBO’s titty mandate. This was on display in True Detective, where the completely gratuitous and jarring T&A sex scenes gave the impression that this was a story complicit in the demeaning attitudes about women it was actually exploring. Creator Nic Pizzolatto said as much when he was quizzed on the lack of female characters. There is no problem with a wonderful piece of storytelling that follows two great characters who happen to be men; but when unnecessary bare breasts are thrown in, the entire enterprise gets an unseemly tacky element. (Also, the all male police department of the 90s amused me — it’s the 90s not the 30s fer gawd’s sake, even if it is Louisiana.)

I haven’t read the Game of Thrones books (yes yes, I know…….) but it’s often mentioned that one of George R. R. Martin’s themes is is the suffering caused by brutality against women and brutality in general. The TV version retains that, but, once again, the endless sexposition undermines the message. As someone I was watching it exclaimed the other night, “Oh, a glass of wine! We’ll be seeing titties soon!” And indeed, whenever someone is relaxing with a glass of wine, a good shag is about to follow 80% of the time.

Martin’s books are actually coming from a more evolved place than HBO, which operates under the assumption that to be adult you’ve got to show naked ladies. Serves them right that so many times, it turns out to be Lena Dunham.


  1. The pay-TV “titty mandate” is real. When CHEW was under development at Showtime, one of the script notes came back during one script iteration was to add some nudity. IE Female nudity, it was understood, though gender was never specified. No reason for it from a story perspective… except that it was pay cable.

  2. I’m not necessarily disagreeing here. I’ve not seen one bit of the new season. I just want to comment on something else.
    So, here’s how I watch GoT: I wait for the DVDs and watch it in a week or weekend long binge. Very fast. All at once.
    We were well into the second season before I saw the first season. Hearing about it, I expected naked ladies like every single episode. And maybe that’s how it’s perceived when you watch it weekly. It feels that way (maybe).
    But when I watched it on DVDs I was like — there really isn’t that much sex at all. And a lot of it is off screen.
    When there is a naked lady, it’s for like 1.5 seconds.

    I’m not complaining. I’m not saying it isn’t a brutal show and objectifying. It’s just… it seems like the whole narrative of how porn’y it is (see also: HOUSE OF CARDS and TRUE BLOOD) seems more than a little overblown.
    I’ve not seen TRUE DETECTIVES, so I can’t speak to that. But GoT’s sex level has struck me as roughly equivalent to the *very mild* level of R rated movies.
    I’ve not seen much of it, but I’ve looked into it (for a weird writing assignment I had) and the only show that really seems to push it is SPARTACUS. Maybe.

    That said: yes, the whole “we’re an adult TV show so we need boobs” thing is a bit too obvious for the company not to feel embarrassed about. It’s true. Tho it’s working for their bottom line I guess.

  3. I don’t watch Game of Thrones, so I can’t comment on that, but did enjoy the discussion of this very episode on the most recent edition of the Script Notes podcast with John August and Craig Mazin. They also went into the Bryan Singer situation, too. Should be at JohnAugust.com somewhere…

  4. Really far behind this season, only just watched the second episode this past Tuesday, so I haven’t seen the rape/sex scene yet, but I recall it a little differently from the book (I think the timeline has been significantly mangled moving to TV).

    I think GoT only has a lot of nudity and sex when compared to network TV, but pales in comparison to real life. Then again, I do teach life drawing, so there might be a good deal more nudity in my life than usual.

  5. I think all the people running HBO were from the “watch scrambled playboy channels to see distorted titties” era and so they are predisposed to integrate that into the shows they produce.

    Boobs gonna boob!

  6. I haven’t watched every episode, but I don’t think there was any nudity on THE NEWSROOM, VEEP, SILICON VALLEY or CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, so it wouldn’t seem to be a “mandate” at HBO (also, thankfully, Bill Maher, Bryant Gumbel and John Oliver keep their pants on).

  7. To your point about the all male police department in the 90’s of True Detective, we’re never shown a full municipal police department. We’re shown a State Police CID, and it doesn’t seem out of keeping with the slow progress of reality that a detective bureau in LA would be a boys club (a white boys club at that) in 1995.

  8. “This was on display in True Detective, where the completely gratuitous and jarring T&A sex scenes gave the impression that this was a story complicit in the demeaning attitudes about women it was actually exploring. ”

    —sez you. you do know it’s possible to completely disagree with this “truth”, don’t you?

    “Creator Nic Pizzolatto said as much when he was quizzed on the lack of female characters.”

    —this poorly constructed sentence makes it sound as if Pizzolatto is agreeing your your assessment of the show. that is NOT true at all.

    “the show is plainly showing a vein of misogyny running through not just these men but their culture. To the idea that this is not on purpose, or that the females are one-dimensional, I’d say we’ll agree to disagree. If someone sees Maggie as merely some kind of fuming shrew, then that viewer is revealing their own prejudices, not the show’s. “—Nic Pizzolatto.

  9. I watch all these shows for boy’s bums… and am constantly overwhelmed with the tities. A little balance couldn’t hurt. Show of hands of those who who wouldn’t mind seeing Kit Harrington’s bum once a week?

  10. Other 671, Pizzolato also said:

    [T]here is a clear mandate in pay-cable for a certain level of nudity. Now, you’re not going to get our two lead movie stars to go full-frontal, but we at least got Matthew’s butt in there. There’s not a great deal of nudity in the series at all, though, compared to other shows on pay-cable. I’d be happy with none. Seems to me if people want to see naked people doing it, there’s this thing called “the internet.”


  11. You’re criticising the channel that won awards for pioneering gratuitous T&A. Bada-bings. Set your lead’s place of business at a strip club. Deal with great, mature stories, just so long as a few seconds each episode or so you have a scene at the office. It’s a recipe for hitting bank. People like dragons? Same thing. People like CSI? Same thing. Duh. This one’s a no brainer.

    Silly but True

  12. I wonder if Netflix shows have the same mandate. Look at the first episode of this season’s House of Cards. No spoilers, but it seems they really squeezed that shower scene in at the last possible minute — like they ‘had’ to.

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