Hopefully you've watched the video above, which is a tongue in cheek look at the issue. I stumbled across it a few months ago and judging by the views you've probably seen it before.
America and the world have an odd relationship with television and nudity. It's not a new thing by any means but over a period of time there were limits put in place. However the amount of flesh being allowed on television screens over the last decade or so has risen dramatically. This is down to shows being produced by cable networks such as; Showtime, HBO, Starz and even Netflix. Recent shows with nudity include:
True Blood Dexter True Detective Game of Thrones Girls Masters of Sex Orange is the New Black The Americans Boardwalk Empire Weeds Californication Looking Black Sails Da Vinci's Demons Penny Dreadful
What you'll notice is that the majority of these are shows that the public have lapped up because they're different in the way that they tell the story and because they aren't afraid to show a little skin.
As in the video that I displayed at the start of the post if the scenes were described to someone who didn't know what show it was for they may think it was porn, however more often than not the fact that the characters are in the buff helps to make the scenes more believable.
Some shows such as Game of Thrones over uses nudity a little too much as a way of keeping the audience waiting for the next "oh there's a boob" moment. However there are shows like Masters of Sex where the show is kind of built around the whole idea of the study of the body. Or you have Lena Dunham's Girls where she strips of frequently in highly awkward (the whole show is awkward but you have to watch it) but normal scenes.
You even have shows like Looking which is pretty much one of a kind in that it's a show focused on gay men and it approaches nudity in a very tasteful fashion but you still have sex acts being performed (that's totally not the right word...no sex actually happens on camera...or I've wiped it from my brain).
My point is there is a whole variety of approaches taken to having nudity on TV that don't make the shows porn and is helping to normalise nudity on TV.
Pushing the Boundary
This rise in nudity on cable television has caused shows on networks such as The CW that would have avoided nudity if they were written a decade ago to "up their game" and have more risqué shots.
So shows intended for teenagers such as Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl are free (in a sense) to push that boundary as far as they can as long as there is no full frontal nudity.
Sometimes I'll be watching a show knowing it's not going to have any nudity but then they'll surprise me with some ample cleevage or as I saw in The Mindy Project the other week where Chris Messina really goes for it in a butt grab of Mindy Kaling. I mean he took a good handful. I was like wow. But it's that boundary of what's acceptable.
I spent far too long there trying to find a gif. Couldn't find the right one but pretty much illustrates my point above.
What are we comfortable with?
I think if we (the general public) were posed this question in the street we would probably say we are comfortable with most things. It is just trying to find that acceptable balance. You do not want to be watching a show that has nudity in it with your parents for example, so if it's a family show keep it family friendly. However I think most people are open minded enough to allow for at least partial nudity on a television show.
What we should also be asking is how comfortable are actors with the possibility of nudity in a scene? I can't personally speak for them but I know for a fact that it is something that can follow a person around for the rest of their career. Such is the case with Kate Winslet where she is still haunted by the iconic Nude 'Titanic" portrait.
You also have to weigh up whether nudity is actually called for in a show or not. So is it there as a way to push our level of discomfort or is it the case that it helps viewers to be more comfortable with the scene.
I don't think I'm honestly going to find an answer in this short post and these are just my musings on the subject but if you have anything to add please leave a comment below.
Hopefully you enjoyed that post a little bit. I feel a little dirty after doing the research for that. As always I'll end with something that appropriately sums it up.
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