Like thousands of Game of Thrones fans across the nation, on Monday night I will be sitting down to watch the third season of the show.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the story develops, which characters get killed off and who will get a step closer to taking the Iron Throne. What I won’t be looking forward to is having a pair of breasts thrust into my face every week for the next two-and-a-half months.
For those who've never seen Game of Thrones, the series is about the power struggle between several families to win the throne and rule over the fictional land of Westeros. The series has been adapted from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, and along with the uncompromising violence the show is characterised by its sexual content.
On the whole the sex scenes in Game of Thrones have been taken directly from the books and serve a purpose, compared to shows such as Rome and Spartacus: Blood and sand where the sex only really adds to the aesthetic. Indeed I would argue that the majority of the sex scenes are integral to the plot of Game of Thrones and are important because they define the characters. Sex is part of the human condition and by showing the wants and desires of these characters they become more believable and rounded as literary creations. For instance, Theon Greyjoy uses sex to demonstrate his power and nobility to others. Whether it involves sleeping with the daughter of a sea captain or unwittingly fondling his sister (it’s a long story), the overall impression is that he constantly needs to prove himself.
Saying this, I've also found that at times the series has featured sexual scenes that are unnecessary and add very little to the plot. In the first season a brothel owner instructs two prostitutes on the art of making love and orders them to give him a demonstration. The whole sequence played out like a piece of girl-on-girl action for the fan boys and came out of the blue in the overriding scheme of things.
Unsurprisingly, this scene was not in the book and in my opinion added very little to the plot, apart from shoehorning in what was essentially some softcore porn. It might not surprise viewers to learn that some of the scenes were so raunchy that a number of actresses turned down parts on the show. Porn stars were even drafted in to play the more risqué roles.
Game of Thrones is a wonderfully rich and complex story with the depth and detail of The Wire, and production values on par with Boardwalk Empire. The makers simply do not need to stray into softcore territory with superfluous sex scenes to hold their audience’s attention. I think it’s safe to say the makers won viewers over the moment Bran Stark was thrown out of a tower in the first episode. Some of the adult content works, but the additional sex scenes feel unnecessary and comes across as the thinking man’s porn of choice – man being the key word.
My main gripe is not with the sex itself but with the disparity between male and female nudity. Nine times out of 10 it is a woman who is seen disrobed while her male counterpart remains clothed. It is something that is inherent across the film and television industry and needs to be rectified starting with Game of Thrones. If there are going to be sex scenes then surely both male and female characters should both bare their flesh rather than just one party?
Interestingly, I posed the question of the inequality in nudity in Game of Thrones to several of the show’s stars last year and got a particularly strong response from one actress. Natalia Tena, who played the Osha and filmed a scene involving full frontal nudity said: ‘I think it’s really unfair, every actor, any actress has had her t*ts out. Every single actress I know. Blokes it’s like, let’s see some c**k. Do you know what I mean? Let’s make it more even.’
It shows that something needs to change in the industry. Why shouldn’t the male form be celebrated as much as the female form? After all we are living in an ever more sexualised society where the lines between art and porn in the mainstream are blurring.
As a female fan I find myself seeing a lot of women of Game of Thrones in the buff and it feels rather disconcerting. Surely the makers should be catering for female viewers as well as male viewers? Women make up a good chunk of the audience, so perhaps next year they can feature a scene in a brothel where we are shown the rent boys of Westeros or the bed slaves of Essos? Just bring some parity to the nudity for the fan girls.