Tension and Intention:
How Streaming Services and Intimacy Coordinators Are Changing The Sex We See on TV
Long before America had access to the internet, online porn, and OnlyFans, it focused its censorship efforts on everything except gratuitous violence.
Mainstream television, under pressure from various conservative organizations and lobbyists, held pretty fast to the notion that protecting a woman from her sexuality extended to suggestions of just-starting or just-finished coitus, and hiding everything below her collar bone under a suspiciously L-shaped bed sheet. If people were having wild, unadulterated sex they certainly didn’t want their audiences knowing about it. While we are still behind in showing full-spectrum representation and honest depictions of sex and sexuality on television, streaming services have begun to open the gates. Season 2 of Pose brought us the very moving lovemaking scene between Pray Tell (Billy Porter) and Ricky Wintour (Dyllón Burnside), two gay Black men living with HIV.
After it aired and sparked a dialogue about representation in television, Porter told The Hollywood Reporter, “That's what I love so much about television — because of multiple episodes, multiple hours, we get to see characters evolve and grow and live in a more real-time fashion.” Pose, originally owned by cable TV network FX, also streams on Netflix.
Another network that has chosen to evolve and grow and live in a more real-time fashion is HBO, which released I May Destroy You in June of 2020. The show is created, written, co-directed, and executive produced by Michaela Coel, who also plays up-and-coming writer Arabella Essiedu.
During a scene where Arabella and her date—Biagio—begin hooking up,