This session, Changing Rules for Women and Sex on TV, aimed to look at how popular TV shows show sex on TV and how the rules are changing with new shows and of course with cable versus network. This session was moderated by Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress.org and the presenters included Noreen Malone of The New Republic, David Haglund of Slate and Sarah Shapiro and Anna Camp of SEQUIN RAZE.
As was to be expected, the most popular TV show discussed during this session was Girls. It was brought up over and over again, but that’s because it’s done so much for showing, what the team called real sexuality for women on TV, and that’s why it has so many followers and die-hard fans. There’s a lot of discussion about Girls too for the body image aspect of the story, and the team said that is similar with The Good Wife as it’s one show on TV where you do see mothers and middle aged women being portrayed as sexual and that’s not something you would have seen on TV 15 years ago.
From the very beginning, Girls has challenged the preconceived notions of what others shows present. Part of it’s purpose is that viewers find it’s more
interesting sex than any other show on TV and it’s an added layer for the critic and viewers at home. New Girl does a great job of portraying real life situations for women the team thought when the characters get out of long relationships it shows real life situations. That it’s hard to date again after a relationship and you can see sensitive guys on the show as well, similar to ones you see on Girls too.
The panel felt that comedies engaged in sex in more interesting ways that drama, excluding Mad Men. House of Cards is another that uses sex in a power dynamic way. TV has made progress though in how sex is presented and become more objective because it’s out there in so many different ways.
The team ended with some of the more interesting and hotter topics that shows have started to take on more ranging from fertility to rape to abortions. These can be very hard to depict such as the male perspective on whether or not they agree with their partner wanting an abortion to the fact that seeing the main characters on New Girl check their fertility rate made a lot of viewers, including Malone, uncomfortable. But, she said that’s simply because she understands where they are coming from and it also makes it too real as it’s a question then many viewers want to know about themselves and their own body. The creators of the shows would be leaving rich territory unexplored if they didn’t cover these hot topics. There is and should be a plot for them on TV.