Game Of Thrones: Are the sex scenes too gratuitous?

Mike Ryan, writing in Vanity Fair, talks about the sheer amount of sex in HBO’s Game Of Thrones. The title of the piece suggests that the series is bordering on porn parody, and Ryan gives adult filmmakers the free title of Game Of Bones.

Yes, of course there is sex in the book, but even what is a rather innocent conversation between Dany (Emilia Clarke) and her servant on ways to satisfy her new warrior husband, Khal Drago (Jason Momoa), becomes an excuse for some hot girl-on-girl action on-screen.

Yes, HBO managed to slip in a girl-on-girl pseudo-lesbian sex scene in last night’s The Kingsroad. And no, there probably wasn’t any real need for the scene.

Ryan goes on to acknowledge that Daenerys’ story becomes far more important than it appears right now. *ahem* spoilers *ahem* Readers of the books will already know how her story progresses (I don’t). But for the moment, she’s a wide-eyed, innocent young girl who’s had no say in her destiny thus far. She’s been used as a pawn by her brother in an attempt to reclaim his throne, married off to a Dothraki warlord who seems to be keeping her primarily as a sexual plaything.

But with no strong female figures in her life to guide her, that lesbian scene (which isn’t really a sex scene) is pivotal in showing Daenerys how to take charge in the bedroom. Since she’s been married to a barbarian who can’t even speak the same language, Dany learns to use sex to level the playing field.

At the same time, there’s really no denying that Game Of Thrones has gone a bit heavy on the sex scenes in its first two episodes. There’s been a dwarf in an orgy with four prostitutes, that incest scene between between Cersei and Jaime Lannister and Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys in various states of undress/tearful copulation.

My opinion? I enjoy adult drama, and I don’t flinch when sex scenes are shown onscreen. With Game Of Thrones, the sex is mostly integral to the storyline. You can see how it’s used to manipulate, or to gain power. In the case of the Lannisters, it’s a shameful secret that brother and sister are sleeping with each other, and one that might threaten the crown if discovered. (How long have Cersei and Jaime been sleeping together? Are the blonde-haired children really the children of Robert baratheon?)

As an adult, I appreciate sex being tackled in a forthright manner on television. Sometimes it can be downright erotic. Other times – Dany’s wedding night, for instance – it can be harrowing and uncomfortable to watch. And as with Tyrion’s lusty romp in the first episode, it can be simply entertaining.

What Game Of Thrones seems to offer is a heightened reality: a medieval fantasy landscape where the balance of power is constantly shifting (hence the title). It’s a violent world with swords, enormous wolves, savage nomadic tribes and much more. But that seems like a twee justification to me. I also enjoy the decadent scenes that Californication frequently gives us.

In short, I’m in favour of good solid adult drama. In whatever form. But I also think it’s possible to overdo it – programme makers need to ensure there’s a balance and not to shoehorn in a sex scene in every episode.

What’s your take on sex scenes in Game Of Thrones and in television in general? Are you for them or would you prefer the characters to keep their clothes on?

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