“I think there was a pressure for a time for shows and movies to provide that service, and it always felt false because it was like, ‘Here’s the titillating part of the movie.’ It was a marketing technique,” says Willimon.
“Now you can’t put anything on TV that’s more pornographic than what’s easily available with a few mouse clicks.
Obscene material that could result in a fine must have “prurient interests” lacking “literary, artistic, political or scientific merit” as defined by “the average person.” Premium channels tried to lure viewers from network TV and basic cable with nudity.
Writers working for HBO, Netflix and Amazon say they only have to convince their bosses that certain scenes are not “gratuitous.” But while porn may have hastened the arrival of graphic sex on TV, it also presented a problem to directors.
It was a scene that made many cringe, but it signaled a transformation in the television landscape.
Sex on TV, it turned out, didn’t have to be romantic—or even appealing.
“It’s difficult to film sex scenes not just because it’s awkward for the actors to be disrobed making out with a colleague in front of a lot of people, but mostly because it’s very difficult to make it look real,” says Beau Willimon, the showrunner of , the award-winning Netflix series about devious politicians.
“There was a scene with a prostitute in season one that ultimately, when we look back on it, we cringe and feel like that really wasn’t about the character. It wasn’t central to the story, and we’d never do that again,” Fields says.They had decided that in the first episode, Elizabeth and Philip needed to reconnect after Elizabeth’s absence at the end of last season.They wanted to restore an equal power balance in the relationship.No longer did kids have to visit a friend with an HBO subscription to see nudity.Access to graphic sex online spurred networks into what became a nudity arms race.That was a specific choice.” After it aired, Vulture called the scene “TV’s most emotionally resonant 69 scene ever.” TIME’s James Poniewozik pointed out that the position “emphasized how sexually egalitarian the show is.” The 69 was simultaneously an act of feminism and realism.