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Why do the premium movie channels feel like they need to have soft-core porn in every episode of every show? The hubs and I were watching the first episode of Black Sails the other day, testing it out to see if it was a series we wanted to pay for (we don’t have cable, and prefer to save money using Netflix, Hulu, and buying the remaining programs one by one). We’re a little short on content right now, and thought Black Sails might be a good gap filler. Nope.
First and foremost, we weren’t fans of the show. You could see the actors acting, and the story opened on the wrong plot point (IMO). I won’t get into it here, but there’s a good argument that the show should have either started prior to Flint’s hunt for the treasure ship, or once they were already in competition with the other captain. But I digress.
A comment that we both made after the episode ended was that there was too much forced boobage. That’s right, too many naked boobs. Even the hubs thought so.
Starz is by no means the first to have a primetime show that might as well be soft core porn. I have no facts to back it up, but HBO probably started the trend. Take True Blood. I read the first eight or so Sookie Stackhouse books before the show ever started, and yes there was sex, but there was also STORY there. Some actual romance between the characters, not just sweat between the sheets. The HBO adaptation quickly grew beyond my personal comfort zone and I stopped watching after season 4, when the episodes became more about the quantity of skin than the plot. True Blood wasn’t the first, either, but I think it’s a great example of a show moving from story, to porn.
Sex sells. I get it, really I do. But what happened to the storytelling?
I read quite a bit of romance, paranormal romance in particular, and it can get explicit very quickly. The best romances use sex as a storytelling device. They don’t just throw two people in bed together, or have women walking around without their shirts on (while the men are fully dressed) for no reason. The sex makes sense.
Here’s a great example from one of my favorite paranormal romance authors, Nalini Singh. Within the first chapter of Branded by Fire (Book 6 of the Psy-Changeling Series) the two main characters get hot and heavy. If you read the series from the beginning, you’re introduced to Mercy and Riley, and you know quite a bit about their background. You would know that the changelings are more connected to their physical senses, and sex is by no means taboo in the pack culture. You also know that Mercy is a leopard and Riley is a wolf, they’re both dominant changelings and high-ranking in their respective pack hierarchies, and their relationship has been tense – they get on each other’s nerves even as they’re drawn to one another.
The STORY is about how these two very different people are drawn together and ultimately CHOOSE to build a relationship, potentially sacrificing their position in their own packs. Sex in the first chapter serves a purpose; it creates the tension necessary to write about two people who shouldn’t love one another, who should choose duty over their personal lives, but can’t help themselves. The sex is hot, but it’s not the point. What the sex does to their relationship is the point.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t mind seeing boobs on tv, but they need to advance the story, not just titillate the audience.