Nudity, prudity, and double standards on cable television

posted at 12:01 pm on March 11, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, I mentioned the obligatory and gratuitous nudity featured in True Detective, one of the most interesting and original premium-channel series. The mention prompted a couple of challenges from readers to discuss that aspect of film entertainment at more length, which prompted my column at The Week today. I may well be a prude, but the issue — especially in this segment of the industry — isn’t really about whether nudity should be used at all in art, a fight that was settled in the Renaissance and later after the abolition of the Hays Office in Hollywood. It’s about what is being sold, and how.

In the beginning, premium-channel original series were about as subtle as a jackhammer about how they differentiated themselves from free-broadcast competition:

As anyone who has watched original series on premium channels knows, the only constants are bare breasts and slapping pelvises. Ever since 1982′s A New Day in Eden, the market has defined itself by its willingness to bare all. The fact that this definition holds to this day speaks to an anachronistic view of cable television and its audience, and to a stunted point of view from the people who produce it.

In the beginning, this nudity made at least some market sense. Series like A New Day in Eden had to differentiate themselves from their broadcast competition. Most of them couldn’t compete on quality — A New Day in Eden was a bad soap opera even for soap operas — so the only way to keep viewer attention was by putting skin literally into the game.

The selling point for pay-TV was that it was unedited and uncensored. Back before the universal access of HBO and Showtime, Los Angeles had ON-TV, a scrambled over-the-air service that advertised itself with a woman disrobing (with a strategic freeze-frame to make the ads airable). The sale was sex, sex, sex rather than high-quality original entertainment.

That changed over the next decade or so, when premium channels started putting money and effort into their original programming. The quality and prestige improved … but the sales pitch never did:

Defenders of the practice claim it shows authenticity and artistic honesty, but the examples seen by audiences seem like anything but honesty. In Showtime’s The Tudors, which ran for four seasons, we barely got past the opening credits of the first episode before the ridiculously young Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (playing a middle-aged King Henry) and a female bit player began discarding royal clothing. The series wound up making Tudor England look like a nudist colony.

HBO’s Game of Thrones is arguably even more licentious. One of its directors, Neil Marshall, talked in June 2012 about the pressure executives placed on him to amp up the nudity and sexuality. One executive producer, whom Marshall declined to name, told Marshall, “I represent the perv side of the audience, and I’m saying I want full nudity in this scene.” Clearly the motivation here isn’t honesty.

In fact, it’s particularly dishonest.  In most of these shows, it’s the girls undressing for the camera – and girls of a particular body type (with Girls being an exception). The men aren’t doing that, as True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto noted off-handedly while defending the series’ nudity to BuzzFeed’s Kate Aurthur:

The staging was more or less there in the scripts, and then Cary and I worked together on the execution. But there 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.”

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are credited as executive producers, which means that they could have settled for “none,” too — or offered up as much nudity as they expected from their female co-stars. Like most series — Girls and perhaps Game of Thrones being exceptions — the nudity comes almost entirely from women who don’t have significant roles on the male-centric series in which they appear. The Tudors was especially egregious in this regard, shuffling in dozens of bit players to get naked with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.

If women are overrepresented among the underdressed, they’re underrepresented in practically every other aspect of filmmaking:

The latest study on women in front of the camera finds that female characters are still significantly under-represented on the big screen. …

Female actors accounted for 30% of all speaking parts in the survey, which has examined some 7,000 screen characters across 300 pics since 2002. Only about 13% of 2013′s top 100 pics featured an equal number of female and male characters.

“Overall, we have seen little movement in the numbers of female protagonists and females as speaking characters over the last decade,” Lauzen said.  “Moreover, female characters are less likely than males to have identifiable goals or to be portrayed as leaders of any kind.”

In other words, women tend to get hired to service “mandates,” perhaps especially so in premium-channel programming. Most of it is just as gratuitous as Pizzolatto indicates, or as Game of Thrones director Neil Marshall indicated in June 2012 about the pressure he faced from producers to service the “perv side of the audience.” Naked female bodies don’t drive narratives in most cases,  but serve as sales pitches for products that shouldn’t need them in the first place.

As good as these series have become, they need to come to terms with their exploitation of women, especially those who don’t have much power in Hollywood. That may make me a prude, but the problem is too acute to ignore.

Update: I laughed when one commenter accused me of “basically being a lib,” because I had that thought myself when I wrote the column. However, I’m not advocating for government regulation as a solution (and I would oppose it, especially on narrowcast pay-for services). I’m offering criticism as a way to impact the market, its demand, and provide feedback to provoke some original thought in Hollywood.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

Katherine Hepburn could not get to an audition today.

BobMbx on March 11, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Daenerys is hot.

discojoe on March 11, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Naked female bodies don’t drive narratives in most cases, but serve as sales pitches for products that shouldn’t need them in the first place.

You mean to tell me that sex can’t substitute substance?

PROGRESSIVES LIED TO ME! /

nobar on March 11, 2014 at 12:08 PM

……but what about the “War on Women”?

Tater Salad on March 11, 2014 at 12:08 PM

So here’s the conundrum: Liberal women tend to make Tarzan’s jungle mother look attractive; and movies and stuff are all liberal.

So where are they finding these women? And are they Republican?

Vanceone on March 11, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Hear hear.

netmarcos on March 11, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Sources I trust have informed me that Game of Thrones is basically porn.

22044 on March 11, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Katherine Hepburn could not get to an audition today.

BobMbx on March 11, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Nor could Marilyn Monroe…

ladyingray on March 11, 2014 at 12:13 PM

In the season premiere of “The Americans,” stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys were shown embracing nude in a position that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen before on basic cable (in this case FX).

If I had the time, I could probably come up with, oh, SIXTY-NINE reasons why this was kind of shocking.

Kensington on March 11, 2014 at 12:13 PM

But by all means, let’s ban the word “bossy”, because that’s the real problem. Not a lack of female leaders in television and film.

Alderene on March 11, 2014 at 12:15 PM

I gotta admit, I contemplated watching Game of Thrones after hearing about the nudity. But in the end, the nudity actually made me decide not to download it on netflix.

astonerii on March 11, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Los Angeles had ON-TV, a scrambled over-the-air service

I remember ON-TV. You could turn to channel 52 and sometimes the scrambled signal would become momentarily clear enough to see boobies.

Mark1971 on March 11, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Irony Alert…

SweetSensationalist on March 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM

. . . . . women tend to get hired to service “mandates,” perhaps especially so in premium-channel programming. Most of it is just as gratuitous as Pizzolatto indicates, or as Game of Thrones director Neil Marshall indicated in June 2012 about the pressure he faced from producers to service the “perv side of the audience.” Naked female bodies don’t drive narratives in most cases, but serve as sales pitches for products that shouldn’t need them in the first place.

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2014 at 12:01 PM

.
Kinda like those “anti-fur” ads with Pamela Anderson (and others).

listens2glenn on March 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM

That girl gives me the creeps for some reason.

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Seems that prudes and feminists can at least agree on one thing.

Me? I don’t care. “Blood and Boobs” is the mantra of slasher flicks and ’80s action movies. I’d rather have gratuitous nudity than gratuitous violence.

BigWillieStyles on March 11, 2014 at 12:18 PM

ON – TV wasn’t exclusive to LA. We had it in Detroit.

spinach.chin on March 11, 2014 at 12:18 PM

It really is too bad. Shows like Rome and Tudors had compelling stories and some great acting. I don’t know if pay-cable’s ‘perv audience’ is larger than their regular audience, but I wouldn’t miss the constant nudity and orgies one bit.

Of course, I don’t have pay cable. I have Netflix. So, my preferences are probably not the top of their concerns.

JadeNYU on March 11, 2014 at 12:19 PM

“The men aren’t doing that” Have you seen Spartacus? Yikes

lookaboobooday on March 11, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Katherine Hepburn could not get to an audition today.

BobMbx on March 11, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Audrey Hepburn could, but I doubt she would.

CurtZHP on March 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Defenders of the practice claim it shows authenticity and artistic honesty, but the examples seen by audiences seem like anything but honesty.

I’ve honestly never heard that defense when it comes to HBO shows. They have nudity cause that’s what people want to see. Seems like Ed created a pretty big strawman.

themuppet on March 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Some amount of nudity in Game of Thrones is necessary, but a lot of it is purely exhibitionist, and yes full frontal male nudity is rare by comparison to its female counter-part. For a show that has plenty of other things going for it, it is illuminating to hear this perspective on how sex is being emphasized. There are parts where the show gets essentially soft-core pornographic, and I’ve no doubt now that some executive producer wanted it that way.

LancerDL on March 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM

It seems a bit sexist to suggest these women are being exploited. They are adults. They do know what they are doing. And as adults they likely have a better grasp of what is in their own best interest than I do.

The use of the word exploited here doesn’t seem to be far off from how the left claims big evil corporations exploit the working class.

jhffmn on March 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM

If women are overrepresented among the underdressed

Ed … that comment makes you sound like a raving lib. Ever heard the phrase, “vive la difference”? What’s next? Healthier school lunches? Comparable worth in pay for men and women? Eliminating the use of the word “bossy”?

LashRambo on March 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM

The reality is that ratings will increase for female T&A, while you really aren’t going to see ratings increase for male nudity.

So, the reality, in terms of the nudity, is that it is a supply and demand issue. Do we really want to “solve” this issue in terms of mandating more male nudity?

I’ll bet that a lot of shows don’t really need the nudity – like Game of Thrones – for their ratings, so I guess simply arguing that they don’t need the nudity is fine.

As far as women characters on screen – again, I’d argue that it is a supply and demand issue. Men watch far more movies than women. And men watch action, sci-fi, and fantasy movies. Despite the efforts to make women actions stars, for the most part it doesn’t work – it is simply not believable to see a 110 lb women kicking 200 lb men’s asses.

this strikes me as the kind of “concern” that leads to affirmative action quotas for movies and television. Why not just let the market work? If there are enough people out there willing to pay to see women-character driven movies – then those movies will get made.

Monkeytoe on March 11, 2014 at 12:22 PM

I remember ON-TV. You could turn to channel 52 and sometimes the scrambled signal would become momentarily clear enough to see boobies.

Mark1971 on March 11, 2014 at 12:16 PM

We had ONTV in Chicago, as well, and I had a portable black-and-white TV with the sort of UHF fine-tuner that allowed me to very reliably pick up a relatively “unscrambled” picture of the late night pr()n offerings. If I turned the volume all the way up, I could hear some of it faintly, too.

And this was hardcore stuff, too.

I miss the 1980′s.

Kensington on March 11, 2014 at 12:23 PM

“Game of Thrones” could be best described as a Pr0n flick that has a plot.

“Girls” could best be described as one of those weird fetish videos that can’t get but “F-List” talent with no plot at all.

ConstantineXI on March 11, 2014 at 12:23 PM

The Tudors was especially egregious in this regard, shuffling in dozens of bit players to get naked with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.

I found this laughable, considering that the real Henry VIII was a fat slob who smelled bad.

CurtZHP on March 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

I don’t think they realize that some people are actually turned OFF by nudity. It’s the same way nudity and language make for sensations among reviewers, but family friendly is the commercial success.

I don’t watch HBO, and have no interest for the reasons cited by Ed. I can afford it and am willing to pay for commercial free programming. But HBO has very little that interests me because of their move toward ‘stimulating’ entertainment. I wonder if they realize that women watch television too.

Why can’t we have what Disney WAS: family friendly commercial free programming you can turn on for your kids while you finish up whatever, then sit down and watch with them. Now I’m restricted to Disney Jr. for my kids to be able to watch without supervision. EVERYTHING on cable has gotten worse over the last 20 years.

MC88 on March 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

By the way, not to be crude, or anything, but, what’s the name of the blond in the blog pic and where are her nude pics.

LashRambo on March 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Betcha Ed doesn’t miss the poetic language of “Deadwood”. Best series evah!

philw1776 on March 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Sorry, I’ll stick to TCM. I need a medium that includes quality acting and a plot.

Deano1952 on March 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Seems to me if people want to see naked people doing it, there’s this thing called “the internet.”

What’s this “internet” thing I keep hearing about?

rbj on March 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

It doesn’t make you prude. It’s stupid to stuff fan service into shows that don’t need it. It devalues the show itself and makes it harder to care about what’s going on. And I’m definitely far from prude or a puritan or one of those anti-porn wackos. We’re way past the stage where on screen nudity is a selling point for TV shows. No one talks about the boobs on Game of Thrones, they talk about the plot and the characters and the setting. That should be all the evidence anyone needs to cut out the pointless nudity, but television executives minds are harder to change than the government sometimes.

Cyhort on March 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

As good as these series have become, they need to come to terms with their exploitation of women, especially those who don’t have much power in Hollywood.

Your cover photo is of Emilia Clark. Prior to GoT that statement would be met with, “Emilia who?” I wish I were exploited too.

MJBrutus on March 11, 2014 at 12:25 PM

If, upon the first time I watch a particular TV-series episode, it doesn’t grab me with some crisp writing and some ostensibly solid characters, I couldn’t care less whether it featured lots of nudity or none.

In my opinion, the inability to get past nudity on a well-written, solidly acted TV program is to strain at a gnat; however, I respect a person’s personal convictions on the matter. Conversely, if someone’s reason for watching a particular TV program is solely for the nudity…well, I think they’re probably not getting as much as they could for their cable-TV entertainment dollar, but in the end, I really don’t care.

Hey, it’s all about choice and priorities for everyone–and this is as it should be. It’s just that, as a 46-year-old man, I’ve seen a lot, and I find nudity at this stage in my life neither off-putting nor super-tantalizing. For me, it’s a non-issue.

But, hey–that’s just me.

Dime IV on March 11, 2014 at 12:25 PM

I remember ON-TV. You could turn to channel 52 and sometimes the scrambled signal would become momentarily clear enough to see boobies.

Mark1971 on March 11, 2014 at 12:16 PM

So basically we are twin brothers, then. Good to know. :-)

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Audrey Hepburn could, but I doubt she would.

CurtZHP on March 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

“How doooooo youuuuuuu doooooo…….”

BobMbx on March 11, 2014 at 12:26 PM

I really like Game of Thrones on HBO, and it does a fair job of staying true to the books… BUT, the obsession with Peter Baelish’s whore houses is ludicrous. In the books, he’s portrayed as an opportunistic businessman who’s not afraid to invest in unseemly ventures, one of which just happens to be prostitution.

In the HBO series, every other scene with Littlefinger takes place in a whore house, naked hookers included.

spinach.chin on March 11, 2014 at 12:27 PM

I found this laughable, considering that the real Henry VIII was a fat slob who smelled bad.

CurtZHP on March 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

…who shuffled in dozens of women to get naked with him. Probably the only nudity mentioned in the whole article that has some justification within the story. Though it would be funny to see it more historically accurate with the fat slob who smelled bad.

MC88 on March 11, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Nudity in an original premium-channel series is about as unexpected as a fight 5 minutes into the 2nd period of a minor-league hockey game.

Knott Buyinit on March 11, 2014 at 12:28 PM

I was at some friend’s house and they were watching both the Tudor’s and Deadwood at the time. I probably would have watched Deadwood even if it didn’t have nudity, but it certainly helped catch my attention for the Tudor’s. But once I started actually watching it, it became overkill pretty quickly.

Flange on March 11, 2014 at 12:28 PM

I found this laughable, considering that the real Henry VIII was a fat slob who smelled bad.

CurtZHP on March 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

That just makes him the Tudor Ron Jeremy.

Kensington on March 11, 2014 at 12:29 PM

As far as women characters on screen – again, I’d argue that it is a supply and demand issue. Men watch far more movies than women. And men watch action, sci-fi, and fantasy movies. Despite the efforts to make women actions stars, for the most part it doesn’t work – it is simply not believable to see a 110 lb women kicking 200 lb men’s asses.

Monkeytoe on March 11, 2014 at 12:22 PM

IE: Women as protagonists in “sword and sorcery” or similar action movies where the combat is very physical will never work. Unless all the men in that world are built like Barack Obama.

However, it’s not out of bounds in a more modern setting. After all, most women can be trained to handle AR 15′s or even heavier firearms.

And a bullet fired accurately from a weapon at your enemy doesn’t care what the size disparity is between you and them… As Sam Colt famously said:

“Be not afraid of any man, No matter what his size; When danger threatens, call on me And I will equalize.”

ConstantineXI on March 11, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Defenders of the practice claim it shows authenticity and artistic honesty, but the examples seen by audiences seem like anything but honesty.

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2014 at 12:01 PM

.
I’ve honestly never heard that defense when it comes to HBO shows. They have nudity cause that’s what people want to see. Seems like Ed created a pretty big strawman.

themuppet on March 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

.
Speaking for myself … I don’t like it, ’cause I’m a PRUDE … and I want everyone else to be, too.

Everyone should be just like Ned freakin’ Flanders, then life would be “just peachy”.
.
What ? !

listens2glenn on March 11, 2014 at 12:30 PM

By the way, not to be crude, or anything, but, what’s the name of the blond in the blog pic and where are her nude pics.

LashRambo on March 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Daenerys is hot.

discojoe on March 11, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Thanks. I shoulda read the comments. Eh. It’s like they say. Once you’ve seen two, you’ve seen them all.

LashRambo on March 11, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Audrey Hepburn could, but I doubt she would.

CurtZHP on March 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

She may have been the only woman in history who rivaled Elizabeth Taylor in pure beauty in her prime.

ConstantineXI on March 11, 2014 at 12:31 PM

I will sound like the typical conservative curmudgeon here, but I never watched Game of Thrones, Girls, or True Detective for this very reason. I could not get past the sconed episode of The Tudors despite it generally bieng a well done show, because of all the ridiculous sex and nudity. The blatant sexism and pandering to horny men in these shows is obnoxious.

If “the perv section” of the TV audience were found to enjoy, say. watching white men beating black women, do you think HBO would make a show that featured that a lot?

rockmom on March 11, 2014 at 12:31 PM

So why is gory bloody violence and murder ok for prime time TV, but very natural nudity and sex is bad?
IMHO – most of our society, especially in terms of what is or is not acceptable for TV, is seriously screwed up.

dentarthurdent on March 11, 2014 at 12:32 PM

LashRambo on March 11, 2014 at 12:30 PM

I think they’re rather like snowflakes. OK, snowflakes that travel in pairs, but you get the idea :-)

MJBrutus on March 11, 2014 at 12:32 PM

The reality is that ratings will increase for female T&A, while you really aren’t going to see ratings increase for male nudity.

So, the reality, in terms of the nudity, is that it is a supply and demand issue. Do we really want to “solve” this issue in terms of mandating more male nudity?

I’ll bet that a lot of shows don’t really need the nudity – like Game of Thrones – for their ratings, so I guess simply arguing that they don’t need the nudity is fine.

As far as women characters on screen – again, I’d argue that it is a supply and demand issue. Men watch far more movies than women. And men watch action, sci-fi, and fantasy movies. Despite the efforts to make women actions stars, for the most part it doesn’t work – it is simply not believable to see a 110 lb women kicking 200 lb men’s asses.

this strikes me as the kind of “concern” that leads to affirmative action quotas for movies and television. Why not just let the market work? If there are enough people out there willing to pay to see women-character driven movies – then those movies will get made.

Monkeytoe on March 11, 2014 at 12:22 PM

The most recent attempt at a female action star was Gina Carano in Haywire. One and done. And the movie was released in January. Nuff said!

22044 on March 11, 2014 at 12:33 PM

I remember ON-TV. You could turn to channel 52 and sometimes the scrambled signal would become momentarily clear enough to see boobies.

Mark1971 on March 11, 2014 at 12:16 PM

.
So basically we are twin brothers, then. Good to know. :-)

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2014 at 12:25 PM

.
Shame on you two . . . . . back in the mid-’80s we had that out of Phila on UHF 57, and I never did that (several times).

listens2glenn on March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

If women are overrepresented among the underdressed

Depends on whether they’re Hawt or not…..

O.K., I’ll stop now……

Oh BTW, we had a casualty yesterday….no more schad…

ToddPA on March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

ToddPA on March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

I would gloat, but that would be Schadenfreude.

MJBrutus on March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

I found this laughable, considering that the real Henry VIII was a fat slob who smelled bad.

CurtZHP on March 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

That was true later in life (the bad smell came from a suppurating wound to his thigh that never healed properly, probably because of diabetes). At the time of Anne Boleyn, he was a fairly fit middle-aged man of his time. The role should have been played by Stephen Waddington (who played Buckingham in the first few episodes), who was the right age, build, and even hair color for the role. And a better actor than Rhys-Meyers, who chewed scenery in practically every episode.

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM

The most recent attempt at a female action star was Gina Carano in Haywire. One and done. And the movie was released in January. Nuff said!

22044 on March 11, 2014 at 12:33 PM

The only actress in recent memory that pulled off a female action role with any “believability” was Lucy Lawless as “Xena”.

Mostly because she LOOKED credible in the role.

That show didn’t have (or need) constant nudity. Of course it was on broadcast TV and they couldn’t do that anyway.

If they made that show today it’d be a cross between Game of Thrones and Girls unfortunately.

ConstantineXI on March 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Seems that audiences want this.
I don’t what one should take from that fact – but you can’t ignore the demand that drives the content.
I understand the argument that it’s cheap and exploitative entertainments (often) and I wince sometimes at what seems to be accepted. But often that isn’t the nudity but the context. Some of the actresses have walked off set on GOT – not because they were asked to be naked, but because of what they were asked to act out while naked.
On a similar note, Law & Order now comes up with some of the most violent and sadistic crime ideas to present. It used to just be a sheet over a body in that scene. And now it’s always something much more crude and graphic.
I don’t think it has anything to do with being a prude. I think it’s more a sense of regret at what we’re desensitized to – and entertained by.

verbaluce on March 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM

In my opinion, the inability to get past nudity on a well-written, solidly acted TV program is to strain at a gnat; however, I respect a person’s personal convictions on the matter…
Dime IV on March 11, 2014 at 12:25 PM

For me it’s not always so much personal taste (though I admit to that being part of it) but how those scenes can break up a story, totally bringing me back out of something I was absorbed in while I wait for whatever fanboys in THEIR living rooms to finish drooling over “boooooobs”.

MC88 on March 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM

I don’t think it has anything to do with being a prude. I think it’s more a sense of regret at what we’re desensitized to – and entertained by.

verbaluce on March 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM

This is a great point. Thanks!

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Oh BTW, we had a casualty yesterday….no more schad…

ToddPA on March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

You got to be kidding. He was probably over 30,000 posts. Over the line sometimes, but so self-isolated, in a strange way, it was just “schad being schad”. Any story on that?

LashRambo on March 11, 2014 at 12:38 PM

The most recent attempt at a female action star was Gina Carano in Haywire. One and done. And the movie was released in January. Nuff said!

22044 on March 11, 2014 at 12:33 PM

I remember “Zena: Warrior Princess”, but not because of a kick-ass female action star (Lucy Lawless). No, it was more for her boobs. If her costume consisted of a robe, the show would never have gotten out of the first screening.

Then there was “Charmed”, also known as “The No-Bra Club”. What was that show about, anyway?

BobMbx on March 11, 2014 at 12:38 PM

The nudity in Game of Thrones is off putting. And the torture. It is too much.

djl130 on March 11, 2014 at 12:39 PM

What was that show about, anyway?

BobMbx on March 11, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Neilson ratings.

MJBrutus on March 11, 2014 at 12:39 PM

She may have been the only woman in history who rivaled Elizabeth Taylor in pure beauty in her prime.

ConstantineXI on March 11, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Grace Kelly was pretty slammin’ too, if you like blondes.

I don’t care much for redheads, but Ginger Rogers? YES, PLEASE!

CurtZHP on March 11, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Shame on you two . . . . . back in the mid-’80s we had that out of Phila on UHF 57, and I never did that (several times).

listens2glenn on March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

LOL! I guess I’m surprised that ON-TV was in more markets, but I’m not sure why. I just assumed it was a SoCal thing.

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Oh BTW, we had a casualty yesterday….no more schad…

ToddPA on March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Another victim of the Great Eye?

What did he say, I better write it down.

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Oh BTW, we had a casualty yesterday….no more schad…

ToddPA on March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

What happened to schad?

dentarthurdent on March 11, 2014 at 12:40 PM

The only actress in recent memory that pulled off a female action role with any “believability” was Lucy Lawless as “Xena”.

Mostly because she LOOKED credible in the role.

That show didn’t have (or need) constant nudity. Of course it was on broadcast TV and they couldn’t do that anyway.

ConstantineXI on March 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Ha – I don’t think that’s the best example.
Russ Meyers could’ve had a credit on that one.

verbaluce on March 11, 2014 at 12:40 PM

The only actress in recent memory that pulled off a female action role with any “believability” was Lucy Lawless as “Xena”.

ConstantineXI on March 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Gina Davis in the movie “The Long Kiss Goodnight”. Anne Francis on the TV show “Honey” was great, but it only lasted a year. Not exactly an action hero. Trinity in “The Matrix”.

Lynda Carter as “Wonder Woman”. Strength AND curves.

LashRambo on March 11, 2014 at 12:40 PM

The most recent attempt at a female action star was Gina Carano in Haywire. One and done. And the movie was released in January. Nuff said!

22044 on March 11, 2014 at 12:33 PM

.
The only actress in recent memory that pulled off a female action role with any “believability” was Lucy Lawless as “Xena”.

Mostly because she LOOKED credible in the role.

ConstantineXI on March 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM

.
I thought all of the Kill Bill ladies looked credible, even if much of the ‘stunt work’ was not.

listens2glenn on March 11, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Shame on you two . . . . . back in the mid-’80s we had that out of Phila on UHF 57, and I never did that (several times).

listens2glenn on March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

We’ve got it all…on UHF!

22044 on March 11, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Ha – I don’t think that’s the best example.
Russ Meyers could’ve had a credit on that one.

verbaluce on March 11, 2014 at 12:40 PM

I am dating myself with this one, but my introduction to the wonderful female form was watching Lynda Carter as “Wonder Woman” in the late 70′s….

ConstantineXI on March 11, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Yeeeash. really? too many boobies in Game of Thrones? I could maybe buy an argument that the violence is gratuitous. The nudity is an afterthought. Is it absolutely necessary? no. Neither is the bad language. You might as well argue that no dialogue harsher than “gosh” or “golly” is necessary.

Game of Thrones routinely shows people being hacked to death, spitting and spraying blood. It’s not uncommon to show people burned alive or heads on spikes. One of the characters has his skin gradually flayed off and his fingers and other parts amputated, including his penis, bit by bit, for no other plot point than to show that his captor is a sadist.

Naked female bodies don’t drive narratives in most cases, but serve as sales pitches for products that shouldn’t need them in the first place.

The products shouldn’t need them? You know what else we shouldn’t need? fried foods, loud rock music, cars that drive over 100 mph, 3000 square foot houses, rolex watches, and 60 inch televisions. Now everyone sit their gosh darn bottoms down AND WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T LOOK AT THE BOOBIES!

trubble on March 11, 2014 at 12:43 PM

That girl gives me the creeps for some reason.

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM

My first thought when I saw the picture was that we have a daughter that she looks alot like. Then I read your post and went back and gave the picture a closer look. Seems th camera angle and lightning gives her neck an un-real look.

Hey, in no way, shape, or form am I saying you would think my daughter would look creepy. Men on the other hand…”sitting on a park bench”!!!! Finally, the wife can’t count past 68.

HonestLib on March 11, 2014 at 12:43 PM

That girl gives me the creeps for some reason.

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 12:17 PM

The Mother of Dragons will remember that.

sentinelrules on March 11, 2014 at 12:43 PM

geez, all this talk of Henry the 8th, (I am , I am)

Time for Herman’s Hermits.

“Second verse, same as the first!!”

ToddPA on March 11, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Update: I laughed when one commenter accused me of “basically being a lib,” because I had that thought myself when I wrote the column. However, I’m not advocating for government regulation as a solution (and I would oppose it, especially on narrowcast pay-for services). I’m offering criticism as a way to impact the market, its demand, and provide feedback to provoke some original thought in Hollywood.

This is one aspect of our all things political world nowadays I personally hate, and it is indeed a leftist infection. We can no longer just simply like or dislike things, but we must legalize what we like, and outlaw that we dislike. I also think nudity is overdone, and too often designed to appeal to our most base desires. And because of that I’ll be attacked politically. Why is it we can’t have an opinion on content without it quickly devolving into a discussion about the law and regulation? I don’t want to outlaw the awful in the “art” world, I just want to point out how awful it is.

NotCoach on March 11, 2014 at 12:44 PM

I thought all of the “Kill Bill“ ladies looked credible, even if much of the ‘stunt work’ was not.

listens2glenn on March 11, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Loved the two female leads in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.

LashRambo on March 11, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Naked women are not obscene.

Feminism is obscene.

chuckh on March 11, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Oh BTW, we had a casualty yesterday….no more schad…

ToddPA on March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Wha?

verbaluce on March 11, 2014 at 12:45 PM

As good as these series have become, they need to come to terms with their exploitation of women, especially those who don’t have much power in Hollywood. That may make me a prude, but the problem is too acute to ignore.

Hey! At least they aren’t calling women and girls bossy!

Happy Nomad on March 11, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Lynda Carter as “Wonder Woman”. Strength AND curves.

LashRambo on March 11, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Absolutely. Lynda Carter in her prime was probably the best ever actress for a female action role. But again, she didn’t look like a “typical” actress. Nothing fragile and delicate about her.

Natalie Portman is probably the most beautiful and best actress of her generation. She wouldn’t work in an action role. Of course, neither would have Audrey Hepburn (whom I think she strongly resembles).

ConstantineXI on March 11, 2014 at 12:46 PM

I am dating myself with this one, but my introduction to the wonderful female form was watching Lynda Carter as “Wonder Woman” in the late 70′s….

ConstantineXI on March 11, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Jeanie. Practically porn on TV back then. And, it was B&W for me with rabbit ears.

Can you imagine that show today?

“Oh, thank you master…..”

Yeah…right.

BobMbx on March 11, 2014 at 12:46 PM

LOL! I guess I’m surprised that ON-TV was in more markets, but I’m not sure why. I just assumed it was a SoCal thing.

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2014 at 12:39 PM

My grandparents had it here in Michigan as well. I totally forgot about it until you mentioned it in this post.

NotCoach on March 11, 2014 at 12:47 PM

I am dating myself with this one, but my introduction to the wonderful female form was watching Lynda Carter as “Wonder Woman” in the late 70′s….

ConstantineXI on March 11, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Aaaaangie DickInson! POLICEWOMAN BABY!!!

But my vote for all time Hottie:

Racquel Welch- KANSAS CITY BOMBER!!!! HUBBA HUBBA!!!!!

ToddPA on March 11, 2014 at 12:47 PM

I don’t think it has anything to do with being a prude. I think it’s more a sense of regret at what we’re desensitized to – and entertained by.

verbaluce on March 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM

This is a great point. Thanks!

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2014 at 12:37 PM

I still love GOT.

verbaluce on March 11, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Thank Ghu for DVR – now I can FF thru the boring stuff and go straight to the nekkid parts.

myiq2xu on March 11, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Betcha Ed doesn’t miss the poetic language of “Deadwood”. Best series evah! philw1776 on March 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Actually, much of the vulgar epithets used in those scripts were not in use at the time.

Akzed on March 11, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Shame on you two . . . . . back in the mid-’80s we had that out of Phila on UHF 57, and I never did that (several times).

listens2glenn on March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

.
LOL! I guess I’m surprised that ON-TV was in more markets, but I’m not sure why. I just assumed it was a SoCal thing.

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2014 at 12:39 PM

.
There was another one out of Philly on UHF as well, but I don’t remember the channel.
UHF 57 still broadcasts out of Philly today, but ON-TV is just a memory.

listens2glenn on March 11, 2014 at 12:50 PM

I’m offering criticism as a way to impact the market, its demand, and provide feedback to provoke some original thought in Hollywood.

You want to impact the market for sex? Seriously???

WryTrvllr on March 11, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Loved the two female leads in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.

LashRambo on March 11, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Yes – CTHD was a very good movie with memorable characters.

22044 on March 11, 2014 at 12:52 PM

I think that Ed is exploiting this young lady to generate more comments for his blog.

MJBrutus on March 11, 2014 at 12:52 PM

I think my stance on this is best stated by BuzzFeed’s Kate Aurthur above:

“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.”

I have heard glowing reviews of Game of Thrones, True Detective, and others. I will probably never watch them because I don’t need nroq to enjoy a narrative.

Effay5 on March 11, 2014 at 12:52 PM

I don’t pay for TV because of their politics and activism. The ONLY thing on TV worth watching these days would be the nude scenes.

WryTrvllr on March 11, 2014 at 12:53 PM

I don’t think it has anything to do with being a prude. I think it’s more a sense of regret at what we’re desensitized to – and entertained by.

verbaluce on March 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM
This is a great point. Thanks!

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2014 at 12:37 PM

When I lived and worked in Japan, the things I saw on the telly there made programming in the UK look prudish.

HonestLib on March 11, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Grace Kelly was pretty slammin’ too, if you like blondes.

I don’t care much for redheads, but Ginger Rogers? YES, PLEASE!

CurtZHP on March 11, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Grace Kelly was the quintessential beauty.

Philly Girl…..research the pics of her as a young lady
after graduating from Catholic schools there…Smokin Hot!

ToddPA on March 11, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Jeanie. Practically porn on TV back then. And, it was B&W for me with rabbit ears.
Can you imagine that show today?
“Oh, thank you master…..”
Yeah…right.

BobMbx on March 11, 2014 at 12:46 PM

COULD have been – if Major Nelson wasn’t such a prudish idiot.
He had this incredibly hot scantily clad babe who could do magic – and he had no interest in using any of her uh capabilities.
He must have been gay….

dentarthurdent on March 11, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Ed – the problem isn’t nudity on HBO or other pay channels. You’re still only talking about 30-40 million subscribers and they control with product airs.

The problem, is basic cable.

The rule used to be nothing R before nine. The majority of basic cable channels hit 100 million homes. They barely edit for content. Couple that with reality programming, and now all bets are off.

When you see what passes for daily content, then consider how many latchkey or just non-observed kids we have, you don’t need to blame the internet for desensitization.

This isn’t even considering the shlockumentaries that glorify gangs or serial killers. I mean, Spike TV’s highest-rated show was Gangland. The used to run it in 3-4 hour blocks because it did better than their original content. It took pushback from actual police orders to bring some attention to the problem, and even then, it barely held.

This all falls under the FCC guidelines. Clinton and W let it go straight to hell because of cable/media lobbyists, because they were so focused on the web. But now, under Barry, it’s been an unmitigated disaster.

budfox on March 11, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Oh BTW, we had a casualty yesterday….no more schad…

ToddPA on March 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Another victim of the Great Eye?

What did he say, I better write it down.

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 12:40 PM

I will let others elaborate….

ToddPA on March 11, 2014 at 12:56 PM

I will let others elaborate….

ToddPA on March 11, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Which thread?

dentarthurdent on March 11, 2014 at 12:59 PM

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